Hikers and hunters: Long, vigorous hikes take toll on feet, ankles
(Reston, Manassas, and Leesburg, VA – 10/06/2017) –As brightly colored leaves dazzle the fall landscape, hikers and hunters nationwide will migrate to mountains, woods and fields, but many, unfortunately, are ill prepared for the beating their feet will take, warns a local foot and ankle surgeon.
“Hikers, hunters and others who love the outdoors often don’t realize how strenuous it can be to withstand constant, vigorous walking on uneven terrain,” said Dr. Shaun Hafner, a member of the American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons (ACFAS) located in Northern Virginia. "Lax physical conditioning and inappropriate footwear bring scores of outdoor enthusiasts into our office each fall for treatment of foot and ankle problems such as chronic heel pain, ankle sprains, Achilles tendonitis, fungal infections and severe blisters."
“Walking up and down steep hillsides and tramping through wet, slippery fields and wooded areas puts stress on the muscles and tendons in the feet and ankles, especially if you haven’t conditioned properly before hitting the trail,” said Hafner. “Also, many don’t realize that cross-training athletic shoes aren’t the best choice for extended hiking and hunting. Had some of my patients worn sturdy, well-constructed hiking boots, they wouldn’t have suffered sprained ankles or strained Achilles tendons.”
Dr. Hafner advises hikers and hunters to make the investment in top-quality hiking boots. He said strong, well-insulated and moisture-proof boots with steel or graphite shanks offer excellent ankle and foot support that helps lessen stress and muscle fatigue to reduce injury risk. “The supportive shank decreases strain on the arch by allowing the boot to distribute impact as the foot moves forward. So if a boot bends in the middle, don’t buy it.”
In wet and cold weather, wearing the right socks can help prevent blisters, fungal infections and frostbite. Hafner recommends synthetic socks as the first layer to keep the feet dry and reduce blister-causing friction. For the second layer, wool socks add warmth, absorb moisture away from the skin, and help make the hiking boot more comfortable. “Wool lets moisture evaporate more readily than cotton, so fewer blisters develop,” (HE/SHE) added.
What happens if your feet or ankles hurt during a hike or hunt? Dr. Hafner said pain usually occurs from overuse, even from just walking. “If you’re not accustomed to walking on sloped or uneven ground, your legs and feet will get tired and cause muscles and tendons to ache,” he explained. “To avoid a serious injury, such as a severe ankle sprain or an Achilles tendon rupture, rest for a while if you start hurting.”
According to the ACFAS consumer website, FootHealthFacts.org, pain is a warning sign that something is wrong. “Serious injury risk escalates significantly if you continue hiking in pain.” He likened hiking to skiing, in that beginners should take on less difficult trails until they become better conditioned and more confident.
Evaluation by a foot and ankle surgeon is recommended if there is persistent pain following a hiking or hunting outing. “I’m most concerned about ankle instability and strained Achilles tendons. Inattention to these problems at their early stages may lead to a serious injury that will keep you off the trails for a long time,” Dr. Shaun Hafner said.
Hikers and hunters seeking further information about ankle sprains, Achilles tendon injuries and other foot and ankle problems may contact Dr. Hafner at the Reston Office at 703-437-6333, Manassas Office at 703-368-7166, or Leesburg Office at 703-777-2101.
If you have bunions, then you know the pain and discomfort they can cause. Walking, standing, climbing stairs and performing other daily activities can be painful when you have bunions. Further, certain types of footwear can aggravate the condition, causing additional discomfort. Bunions do not go away on their own so, if you have them, it is important you seek treatment from a podiatrist as soon as possible. The podiatrists at Reston Foot and Ankle Centers in Reston, Manassas and Leesburg, VA are your podiatry experts for treating your bunions.
What Are Bunions?
Bunions are formed when the big toe joint moves out of place. When this occurs, a bony protrusion develops on the side of the foot near the big toe. The protrusion is referred to as a bunion and can become easily irritated when wearing tight-fitting footwear that constantly rubs the bunion throughout the day. The rubbing causes friction and inflammation, which can lead to pain and discomfort. Routine activities, such as walking or standing, can cause additional rubbing, friction and inflammation and further discomfort
Bunions will not resolve themselves. The only way to get rid of them is through medical treatment. An experienced podiatrist can provide the most effective treatment options for alleviating the pain and discomfort of bunions or for removing them completely. Surgery is required to completely remove bunions. Another option is to realign the toe joint, which can lessen the pain and discomfort of your bunions. Your Reston, Manassas and Leesburg podiatry practice is the best place to seek treatment for bunions. Possible treatments include:
- Surgery to remove the bony protrusion.
- Correcting foot positioning with orthotic shoe inserts.
- Stabilizing inflamed toe joints with orthotic shoe inserts.
- Removing any calluses or corns on the feet.
- Performing special exercises to prevent stiffness and improve joint functioning.
- Wearing night splints to realign the big toe and joint.
- Wearing roomy footwear to minimize friction and rubbing in the bunion area.
Bunions can cause pain and discomfort on a daily basis. Fortunately, there are several options for treating your bunions. For treatment of bunions in Reston, Leesburg or Manassas, VA, visit the podiatry experts at Reston Foot and Ankle Centers. To schedule an appointment at the Manassas office, call (703) 368-7166. Call (703) 437-6333 for Reston or (703) 777-2101 for Leesburg.
Reston, Manassas, and Leesburg, September 29, 2017-- Soccer season is in full swing and a local foot and ankle surgeon strongly urges parents and coaches to think twice before coaxing young, injury-prone soccer players to “play through” foot and ankle pain.
“Skeletally immature kids, starting and stopping and moving side to side on cleats that are little more than moccasins with spikes – that’s a recipe for foot and ankle sprains and worse,” cautions Steven Gordon, a member of the American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons.
“Kids will play with lingering, nagging heel pain that, upon testing, turns out to be a stress fracture that neither they, their parents nor their coaches were aware of,” He said. “By playing with pain, they can’t give their team 100 percent and make their injuries worse, which prolongs their time out of soccer.”
Gordon said he has actually had to show parents x-rays of fractures before they’ll take their kids out of the game. “And stress fractures can be subtle – they don’t always show up on initial x-rays.”
Symptoms of stress fractures include pain during normal activity and when touching the area, and swelling without bruising. Treatment usually involves rest and sometimes casting. Some stress fractures heal poorly and often require surgery, such as a break in the elongated bone near the little toe, known as a Jones fracture.
“Soccer is a very popular sport in our community, but the constant running associated with it places excessive stress on a developing foot,” Gordon said. He added that pain from overuse usually stems from inflammation, such as around the growth plate of the heel bone, more so than a stress fracture. “Their growth plates are still open and bones are still growing and maturing – until they’re about 13 to 16. Rest and, in some cases, immobilization of the foot should relieve that inflammation,” Gordon said.
Other types of overuse injuries are Achilles tendonitis and plantar fasciitis (heel pain caused by inflammation of the tissue extending from the heel to the toes).
Quick, out-of-nowhere ankle sprains are also common to soccer. “Ankle sprains should be evaluated by a physician to assess the extent of the injury,” said Gordon. “If the ankle stays swollen for days and is painful to walk or even stand on, it could be a fracture."
Collisions between soccer players take their toll on toes. “When two feet are coming at the ball simultaneously, that ball turns into cement block and goes nowhere. The weakest point in that transaction is usually a foot, with broken toes the outcome,” he/she explained. “The toes swell up so much the player can’t get a shoe on, which is a good sign for young athletes and their parents: If they are having trouble just getting a shoe on, they shouldn’t play.”
For further information about various foot conditions, contact Dr. Gordon at 703-368-7166 or visit FootHealthFacts.org, sponsored by the American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons.
Even minor foot problems can limit your ability to walk, run or even climb a flight of stairs. The podiatrists at Reston, Manassas and Leesburg Foot and Ankle Centers discuss several common foot conditions and explain treatment options.
Is the side of your toe sore and red? You may have an ingrown toenail. This condition occurs when an edge of your toenail grows into the side of the skin surrounding your toenail. If you notice the problem soon enough, you may be able to release the trapped edge by soaking your toe in warm water, then placing a small piece of cotton under the nail. When your nail can't be freed, or it becomes infected, you'll need to visit our Reston, Manassas or Leesburg offices for treatment. After your toe is numbed with an anesthetic, we'll perform a minor procedure to remove the trapped edge.
Both osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis can cause pain and make walking difficult. Over-the-counter pain medications and ice can reduce swelling and pain, but sometimes home treatment doesn't quite dull the pain of arthritis. Foot doctors can recommend a variety of treatment options, depending on the severity of your condition. Cortisone injections can temporarily relieve pain and inflammation, while prescription orthotics reposition your foot and decrease pressure on your painful joints. In severe cases, surgery to remove loose cartilage or fuse joints may be necessary.
Plantar fasciitis occurs when the tough band of tissue in the sole of your foot becomes inflamed, causing heel pain. If over-the-counter pain medications aren't helpful, you may benefit from cortisone injections, physical therapy, night splints or custom orthotics. Surgery isn't needed in most cases, although it may be a viable option in severe cases.
A bunion is a painful bump at the base of your big toe due to a misalignment of the bones in your feet. They're genetic, but particularly painful in women who frequently wear high heels. Orthotics, cushioning pads, splints and cortisone injections can reduce the pain, but they won't get rid of your bunion. Surgery to realign your bones is the only way to correct the bunion if it is causing pain or difficulty wearing shoes.
Tired of living with foot pain? Schedule an appointment with the podiatrists at Reston, Manassas or Leesburg Foot and Ankle Center by calling (703) 437-6333 for the Reston office, (703) 368-7166 for the Manassas office and (703) 777-2101 for the Leesburg office.
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.
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