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Kick-start kids' summer with shoe-shopping tips for parents

When it comes to the health of your children, you do everything you can to help them grow up healthy and strong. You get them vaccinated, take them to the dentist and optometrist, and you do your best to ensure they eat a nutritious diet that will help them grow. But are you aware of the important role foot health plays in a child’s overall development?

“Every parent knows the frustration of trying to keep up with children who grow quickly, and that rapid pace of growth can mean children need new shoes and socks every few months,” says Steven Gordon, DPM, a podiatrist at Reston, Manassas, and Leesburg Foot and Ankle Centers and member of the American Podiatric Medical Association (APMA). “With warm weather on the way, it’s a great time for parents to take a look at their children’s shoes to ensure they’re wearing footwear that will serve them well through the active days of summer.”

Ill-fitting footwear can irritate kids’ feet and aggravate existing conditions caused by injury, heredity, deformity, or illness. APMA offers parents guidance for keeping kids in shoes that fit properly and protect their feet:

  • Take the child with you while shoe shopping and have him or her try on the shoes. Every shoe fits differently, so even if you’re buying your child’s correct size, the shoe still may not be comfortable. Have the child try on footwear with the socks or tights you expect will be worn with the shoes.
  • Always measure a child’s foot before buying new shoes. Children’s feet grow so quickly that their shoe size can literally change from month to month.
  • Shop late in the afternoon when feet are largest, and make sure to fit the shoe to the larger foot. Everyone’s feet swell by the end of the day, and no one has feet that are exactly the same size. One will always be slightly larger.
  • Never buy shoes that are too large or need a “break-in” period. Shoes should be comfortable immediately. “Buying shoes for kids isn’t like buying a too-large coat that you know they’ll grow into,” Dr. Gordon says. “Shoes that are too big can irritate a child’s feet, and even lead to tripping or injury.”
  • Let kids have a say—within reason. “Of course parents will have to guide children toward good choices,” Dr. Gordon says. “But allowing kids to have a say in the shoe-buying process can help promote healthy foot habits down the road.”

Once your child takes the new shoes home, keep watch to ensure the shoes stay comfortable and in good shape. Examine the child’s feet at the end of the day for signs of irritation. If your child always wants to remove one or both of the shoes, it may mean the shoes are uncomfortable.

Finally, says Dr. Steven Gordon, “Never hand down footwear.”

“Just because a shoe size fits one child comfortably doesn’t mean it will fit another the same way,” he notes. “Plus, sharing shoes can spread fungi like athlete’s foot and nail fungus.”

Foot injuries common after (storms OR hurricanes OR tornadoes)

Reston, Manassas, and Leesburg Virginia – With (HURRICANE OR TORNADO OR FLOOD) season officially underway, a Reston, Manassas, and Leesburg foot and ankle surgeon reminds residents about the risk of serious foot injuries during disaster clean-up.

“In the aftermath of a storm, people just want to clean up the debris as fast as they can and get on with their lives,” says Steven Gordon DPM, FACFAS, a foot and ankle surgeon with offices in Reston, Manassas, and Leesburg. “By taking some simple precautions to protect their feet from injury, they can make the cleanup go more quickly and more safely.”

Many (HURRICANE OR TORNADO) survivors suffer puncture wounds on their feet. After Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, foot and ankle surgeons along the Gulf Coast reported treating patients who injured themselves wearing flip-flops and sandals during debris clean-up. Some patients developed bone infections from improperly treated puncture wounds caused by nails and other sharp objects.

According to the American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons’ (ACFAS) FootHealthFacts.org Web site, puncture wounds require medical treatment within 24 hours to avoid infection and other complications from embedded foreign objects. Pieces of skin, sock and the shoe itself can be forced into the wound during a puncture, as well as dirt and debris from the object itself. If medical care is inaccessible, every hurricane survival kit should include first aid supplies.

“If you can’t get to a doctor, you can still irrigate the wound, apply a topical antibiotic, and a clean bandage,” says Gordon“ Then see a doctor for follow- up care, including a tetanus shot if necessary.”

After initial treatment, the ACFAS recommends puncture wound victims see a foot and ankle surgeon for a thorough cleaning and careful follow-up to monitor the wound for infection and to prescribe antibiotics if necessary.

Other storm foot safety tips include:

Watch where you walk. Debris and murky floodwaters can conceal sharp objects. Be careful standing on unstable surfaces and piles of debris that can throw you off balance, causing ankle sprains or fractures.

Wear appropriate shoe gear, work boots if possible. Don’t go barefoot. Avoid open-toed footwear like sandals.

Take precautions when cutting down tree limbs. One hurricane victim broke several bones when sawing down a heavy tree limb that landed on her foot.

For treatment of puncture wounds or other foot or ankle trauma, contact Gordon at 703-437-6333.

Cut yourself walking barefoot? It's more serious than you realize

Reston, Manassas, and Leesburg, Virginia 5/9/18 Bare feet are universally associated with summer, but for those who enjoy walking barefoot, a local foot and ankle surgeon warns that inattention to seemingly minor puncture wounds on the soles of your feet can allow serious infections to develop and spread.

“Going barefoot heightens risk for puncture wounds, which require different treatment from cuts because the tiny holes often harbor foreign matter under the skin,” says Steven Gordon DPM, FACFAS, a member of the American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons. “Glass, nails, needles and seashells are common offenders. Regardless of the substance, anything that remains in the wound increases your chances for complications.”

Puncture wounds in the feet too often are superficially treated, according to Gordon, and it is best to get proper care within the first 24 hours to make sure anything that might be embedded in the wound is removed. He notes research suggests that 10 percent of puncture wounds do result in serious infection, but such complications can be prevented with prompt and appropriate medical attention.

The depth and relative cleanliness of a puncture wound are the main factors determining possible infection risk.

“Studies show 60 percent of patients who required incision and drainage of a puncture wound had something embedded,” says Gordon. “With the increasing prevalence of drug-resistant bacteria, even healthy people are getting potentially life-threatening staph infections. So if you step on something and the skin is broken, get treated right away.”

Treatment involves a thorough cleaning to decrease infection risk. Tetanus shots often are needed. Following treatment, the wound should be monitored carefully at home.

“Sometimes an infection can develop later and migrate to the bones,” says Gordon. “So if the wound stays red, swollen and sore after a few days, go back to the doctor for further treatment. In all cases, a puncture wound on your foot should never be taken lightly.”

For further information about puncture wounds and other foot conditions, contact Dr. Gordon at 703-437-6333 or visit the ACFAS consumer Web site, FootHealthFacts.org.

Five myths about foot care

From bunions to broken toes, local foot and ankle surgeon has heard it all

Reston, Manassas, and Leesburg 04/25/2018 “Don’t cross your eyes, they’ll stay that way!”

Old wives’ tales and myths like that example are fun to laugh at. We believed them as children. “Step on a crack and you’ll break your mother’s back.” But there are other myths that are no laughing matter, especially when they involve your health.

From bunions to broken toes, foot and ankle surgeon Steven Gordon, DPM, FACFAS, has heard it all. Gordon treats patients at offices in Reston, Manassas, and Leesburg, He shares five myths about foot care and the realities behind them.

Myth: Cutting a notch (a “V”) in a toenail will relieve the pain of ingrown toenails.
Reality: When a toenail is ingrown, the nail curves downward and grows into the skin. Cutting a “V” in the toenail does not affect its growth. New nail growth will continue to curve downward. Cutting a “V” may actually cause more problems and is painful in many cases.

Myth: My foot or ankle can’t be broken if I can walk on it.
Reality: It’s entirely possible to walk on a foot or ankle with a broken bone. “It depends on your threshold for pain, as well as the severity of the injury,” says Gordon, But it’s not a smart idea. Walking with a broken bone can cause further damage.

It is crucial to stay off an injured foot until diagnosis by a foot and ankle surgeon. Until then, apply ice and elevate the foot to reduce pain.

Myth: Shoes cause bunions.
Reality: Bunions are most often caused by an inherited faulty mechanical structure of the foot. It is not the bunion itself that is inherited, but certain foot types make a person prone to developing a bunion. While wearing shoes that crowd the toes together can, over time, make bunions more painful, shoes themselves do not cause bunions.

Although some treatments can ease the pain of bunions, only surgery can correct the deformity.

Myth: A doctor can’t fix a broken toe.
Reality: Nineteen of the 26 bones in the foot are toe bones.

“What I tell patients is, there are things we can do to make a broken toe heal better and prevent problems later on, like arthritis or toe deformities,” Gordon says.

Broken toes that aren’t treated correctly can also make walking and wearing shoes difficult. A foot and ankle surgeon will x-ray the toe to learn more about the fracture. If the broken toe is out of alignment, the surgeon may have to insert a pin, screw or plate to reposition the bone.

Myth: Corns have roots.
Reality: A corn is a small build-up of skin caused by friction. Gordon says many corns result from a hammertoe deformity, where the toe knuckle rubs against the shoe. The only way to eliminate these corns is to surgically correct the hammertoe condition.

Unlike a callus, a corn has a central core of hard material. But corns do not have roots. Attempting to cut off a corn or applying medicated corn pads can lead to serious infection or even amputation. A foot and ankle surgeon can safely evaluate and treat corns and the conditions contributing to them.

To make an appointment with Gordon,  contact  his office at 703-437-6333 or visit his Web site at WWW.FootVA.comFor additional foot care myths, visit the American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons’ consumer Web site, FootHealthFacts.org