Posts for: August, 2017
After wearing flip-flops all summer, students head back to school with painful feet
Manassas, Virginia 8/30/2017 The sounds of back to school season include the ringing of school bells and cash registers, the slamming of locker doors, the noisy ruckus of school hallways and cafeterias, and the moans and groans of students over tests, homework, relationships, and increasingly, their aching feet.
Flip-flops are the summer footwear of choice for many students. But while these sandals are inexpensive and stylish, they don’t cushion or support the foot, leading to problems. After wearing flip-flops all summer, some students will head back to school this fall with foot pain and even injuries. Steven Gordon DPM, FACFAS, a foot and ankle surgeon with offices in Reston, Manassas, and Leesburg Foot and Ankle Centers, reminds parents and students that foot pain isn’t normal and can be reduced or eliminated.
“People may not realize that even into your mid-teens, there’s new bone growing in your heel,” says Gordon, “Flip-flops don’t cushion the heel, so repetitive stress from walking can inflame that heel bone growth area and cause pain and tenderness.”
Heel pain and arch pain rank among the most common complaints among students who wear flip-flops. Other flip-flop feet problems students can take back to school include inflammation of the Achilles tendon, painful pinched nerves, sprained ankles, broken or sprained toes, cuts and scrapes, plantar warts, Athlete’s foot, and callus build-up on the heels and toes.
Foot and ankle surgeons can usually reduce or eliminate students’ foot pain with simple treatment methods including stretching exercises, ice massage, anti-inflammatory medications, and custom or over-the-counter shoe inserts.
Back to school season will always be painful for some students, but it doesn’t need to involve foot pain. Contact Dr. Gordon’s office in Manassas 703-368-7166 or Reston 703-437-6333 to have your student’s painful foot evaluated, and visit FootHealthFacts.org for more information on foot and ankle conditions.
Simple steps that help people with diabetes keep their feet healthy
A diabetes diagnosis can be daunting, but a simple attitude adjustment can make a world of difference in how well you fare while living with the disease. When people with diabetes take proactive steps to monitor key health indicators, experts agree that it’s possible to prevent some of the most severe risks of diabetes, including lower limb amputation.
People ages 20 and older who are living with diabetes account for about 60 percent of non-traumatic lower-limb amputations, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) 2014 National Diabetes Statistics Report.
“The CDC says the occurrence of diabetes-related foot and lower-leg amputation has decreased by 65 percent since 1996,” says Shaun Hafner, DPM, a podiatrist at Reston, Manassas, and Leesburg Foot and Ankle Centers and member of the American Podiatric Medical Association (APMA). “Working together, podiatrists and their patients with diabetes can reduce the number of amputations even more.”
People with diabetes may be less aware of cuts or wounds on their feet due to the nerve damage related to their disease, Dr. Hafner points out. “Regular and vigilant foot care can help catch problems before they develop into a health crisis.”
APMA offers advice to help people with diabetes protect their foot health:
- Inspect your feet daily, checking the entire foot and all 10 toes for cuts, bruises, sores, or changes to the toenails, such as thickening or discoloration. Treat wounds immediately and see your podiatrist if a problem persists or infection is apparent.
- Exercise by walking, which can help you maintain a healthy weight and improve circulation. Be sure to wear athletic shoes appropriate for the type of exercise you’re doing.
- When you buy new shoes, have them properly measured and fitted. Foot size and shape can change over time, and ill-fitting shoes are a leading cause of foot pain and lesions. Certain types of shoes, socks, and custom orthotics are available for people with diabetes, and they may be covered under Medicare. You can find a list of podiatrist-approved footwear and products for people with diabetes on the APMA website, www.apma.org.
- Keep your feet covered and never go barefoot, even at home. The risk of cuts and infection is too great.
- See a podiatrist to remove calluses, corns, or warts—don’t tackle them yourself, and don’t ask an unlicensed nonprofessional to do it. Over-the-counter products can burn your skin and injure your foot. Podiatrists are specially trained to address all aspects of foot health for people with diabetes.
- Get checkups twice a year. An exam by your podiatrist is the best way to ensure your feet stay healthy.
“For people with diabetes, taking charge of your own foot health can help you avoid foot-related complications like amputation,” Dr. Shaun Hafner says. “Working with today’s podiatrist will help you safeguard your foot health.”
What is it about children's feet that make them seem like the fastest-growing part of their bodies? With back-to-school shopping behind you for another year, you might hope you can stop spending on shoes—at least until flip-flop season arrives with spring. But kids’ feet do grow year round, right along with the rest of them. In fact, according to the American Podiatric Medical Association (APMA), a child’s shoe and sock sizes may change every few months. Comfortable, sturdy shoes are among the most important articles of clothing you’ll buy for your child at any time of year. Ill-fitting shoes can cause problems that range from minor blisters and discomfort to serious injuries and impaired development.
“A pair of well-made shoes can keep children safe from foot problems such as sprains and strains, both in class and on the playground,” says Steven Gordon, DPM, a podiatrist at Reston, Manassas, and Leesburg Foot and Ankle Centers and APMA member. “Unless your child complains of discomfort, you may not realize he or she needs new shoes. Parents need to be vigilant to ensure kids are wearing shoes that fit properly and provide the stability and support kids need.”
Conduct the time-honored toe test—using your thumb or forefinger to determine where the child’s big toe is inside the shoe—once a month. Inspect shoes regularly for signs of wear that could compromise their stability. When it’s time to buy children’s shoes, APMA has some guidelines for parents.
“Checking for three different aspects of a shoe’s design makes it easy for parents to distinguish which models are foot-friendly,” Dr. Gordon says.
APMA recommends parents perform a simple, three-step inspection on new shoes before buying:
- Look for a stiff heel. The heel counter should not collapse when pressed from both sides.
- Ensure the shoe bends at the toes, but nowhere else.
- Finally, make sure the shoe does not twist across the middle.
In addition, keep these tips in mind to help ensure kids are wearing comfortable shoes and practicing good foot health:
- Take children with you when you buy their shoes and shop at the end of the day when feet are at their biggest. Every shoe fits differently, and allowing a child to have a say in the shoe-shopping process can help promote healthy foot care habits down the road.
- Always buy for the larger foot. Feet are rarely the exact same size, so buy a shoe that fits the slightly larger foot.
- Avoid shoes that require a “break-in” period to feel comfortable. Shoes should be comfortable immediately. Be sure your child tries on the shoes wearing whatever type of socks or tights he or she will use with them.
- Never hand down footwear. Just because a shoe fits one child comfortably doesn’t mean it will fit another in the same way. Also, sharing shoes can spread athlete’s foot and nail fungus.
- Whenever possible, purchase shoes at a shoe store staffed by well-trained shoe fitters. An experienced salesperson can help relieve worries over getting the proper fit.
If your child’s shoes show uneven wear or wear out on the heels quickly, it could indicate a problem that should be examined by a podiatrist. You can see a list of podiatrist-recommended children’s footwear by visiting www.apma.org/seal and selecting “Find Products by Type” then “Footwear, Children’s.”
New Survey Reveals Majority of Americans Suffer from Foot Pain
Ailments widespread, yet few people address issues
[Reston, Manassas, and Leesburg, VA], [8/11/17]—The American Podiatric Medical Association (APMA) today announced the results of its Today’s Podiatrist survey, which measures the public’s attitudes toward foot health. The study, which surveyed 1,000 US adults ages 18 and older, found the majority of Americans say they have experienced foot pain (77%), but only a third of those would seek expert care by a podiatrist.
Foot pain can have a profound impact on quality of life. Half of all adults say that foot pain has restricted their activities—like walking, exercising, working, or playing with grandchildren—in some way. For those with chronic foot pain, that number jumps to 83 percent. People say they would exercise more (39%) and participate in more activities (41%) if it weren’t for their foot pain.
While foot ailments are widespread, familiarity and experience with the podiatrists who treat them is considerably lower. Most adults would speak with their primary care physician (60%) or do a Web search (48%) to answer questions about foot health before considering a visit to a podiatrist.
“Podiatrists are physicians, surgeons, and specialists. They’re ready and able to treat diseases, injuries, and deformities of the foot and ankle, as well as the foot problems Americans experience most often: heel pain, plantar fasciitis, nail fungus, and foot odor,” said APMA member Dr. Steven Gordon. “They can also catch signs of diabetes, arthritis, and nerve and circulatory disorders, all of which can be detected in the feet.”
The good news: Among those who have visited a podiatrist, 88 percent said their podiatrist was able to quickly provide a clear diagnosis, and 76 percent said their podiatrist was able to prescribe an effective treatment regimen and/or medication that helped their foot- or ankle-related issues improve or go away.
In addition, more than a third (34%) of those who visited a podiatrist said their podiatrist helped identify another health-related issue they had, such as diabetes, circulatory problems, or nerve issues. Those who have visited a podiatrist are also extremely satisfied with their care; in fact, more are satisfied than those who sought out a primary care physician for foot care.
“Foot pain is never normal, and it’s critical that anyone experiencing chronic pain seeks care from an expert,” said Dr. Gordon.
Whether you’re getting ready for a romantic evening out, or looking ahead to when sandal days are back again, treating your feet to a pedicure can help you look and feel your best—as long as you keep foot health front of mind.
“It’s important to ensure your pedicure is done properly, whether you’re doing it yourself at home or enjoying a professional treatment in a nail salon or spa,” Steven Gordon, DPM, a podiatrist at Reston, Manassas, and Leesburg Foot and Ankle Centers and member of the American Podiatric Medical Association (APMA).
APMA offers some pedicure pointers to help you love how your feet look and feel:
- Start with a good soak in warm water for at least five minutes. Soaking will help soften calluses and prep feet for removing dry, rough skin. To exfoliate, use a pumice stone or foot file. “Never use a foot razor to remove dead skin, and ban your pedicurist from using one on you,” says Dr. Gordon. “It’s too easy for a quick slip-up to cause permanent damage or lead to serious infection.”
- Shave your legs a day or two before your professional pedicure, but not the day of. Shaving can cause minor abrasions and fissures in the skin, allowing bacteria to enter while your feet soak or the nail technician handles your feet. A little bit of stubble won’t bother her at all.
- When doing a home pedicure, use toenail clippers with a straight edge and cut nails straight across. Avoid other cutting tools, such as manicure scissors, as they can increase the risk of ingrown nails. For salon pedicures, bring your own tools; shared tools can spread bacteria if they haven’t been cleaned properly. Use an emery board to smooth and round nail edges.
- Never permit a nail technician to cut or trim cuticles, which protect nail beds from bacteria. Instead, use a rubber cuticle pusher or liquid remover to gently push back cuticles just a little bit. Use a wooden or rubber manicure stick—never metal or anything sharp—to clean beneath nails.
- Remove polish after it’s been on for a while. Keeping nails polished for extended periods may promote fungal growth. Leave toenails polish-free for a few days between pedicures.
- After your pedicure, don’t walk around in flimsy flip-flops, especially the ones salons sometimes give customers before they leave. They don’t provide adequate protection or support for your feet.
You can also look for foot-friendly products that have earned APMA’s Seal of Acceptance or Approval by visiting www.apma.org/seal. Podiatrists have evaluated these products and found them to be beneficial to foot health.
Finally, never put up with foot pain. “Discomfort and pain that last longer than several days could be a sign of a more serious problem or infection,” Dr. Gordon adds. Seek treatment from a podiatrist—the foot and ankle expert.