Wednesday, 23 December 2015

Winter is Coming: Five Foot Problems You should Beware

With winter knocking at the door, you must have already started taking out warm clothes, woolen socks and snug shoes. This is one season which can be actually felt by every part of the body, often resulting in certain discomfort. Since your feet remains maximum exposed to the chilling weather, it can lead to several painful conditions.

And so, if you want to enjoy a pain-free active winter, here are listed five common foot conditions you need to be careful about.

Heel spur

The comfortable cold weather encourages you to become over-active. You want to make up for those gym sessions or jogging schedules you missed during sweaty summer months. This is the time when team activities and organized sports get arranged too. Such activities can result in injuries like heel spur, runner’s knee, and shin splints.

Ingrown toenails

You start wearing closed-in shoes during this season to keep your feet warm. And it can aggravate ingrown toenails condition, if you are already suffering from it. Even the pressure of your heavy blankets can sometimes irritate those ingrown toenails! Consult a podiatrist to manage this problem better, which would guarantee a good night’s sleep.  

Dry cracked skin

You just can’t avoid dry cracked skin as it starts losing moisture during winter months. Foot skin gets affected the most, as it can peel and develop cracks too. In severe situations, the skin crack opens very badly and starts bleeding, especially in areas where the pressure is highest, i.e. the heel. Wash your feet daily with gentle pumice stone or loofah. Then apply a good moisturizing cream. Consult a podiatrist for remedial measures, if the painful condition persists still.

Fungal infections

Many are of the opinion that fungal infections are the same as dry cracked skin, since both foot conditions appear to be the same, to start with. If the problem is ascertained to be fungal infection, then soon you will notice redness, itching and scaling. In severe cases, open wounds appear on the bottom of your feet. Check between your toes as these are the common hiding spots for some types of fungal infections. Application of Tea tree can prove to be helpful; or else seek guidance of a foot specialist.


It is a common foot problem which is triggered by cold weather. You have chilblains, if you notice small red-colored swellings along with itchiness. When your foot remains exposed to cold weather for long, blood vessels in your toes tend to get smaller in size. Keep your feet warm and these cold-affected blood vessels will return to normal size.

In case your toes become warm too fast, that can cause pain, swelling, redness, and blistering, typically associated with chilblains. It can be treated by applying the right kind of lotions and creams as prescribed by your podiatrist. If left untreated for long, chilblains can prove to be harmful and can lead to ulcers too.

As evident from the above discussion, most of these foot conditions can be prevented or managed by adopting simple measures. If you feel that your foot problem is chronic and refuses to subside, then do get in touch with a reputable podiatrist before it is too late.

Wednesday, 25 November 2015

How You can Prevent Foot Drop

Keeping your feet firmly on the ground – literally – can become difficult if you suffer from certain painful conditions. Foot drop (sometimes called drop foot) is one such ailment which makes it difficult for you to lift the front part of your foot, particularly the toes upwards. It is not a disease in itself. Rather it is a symptom which points towards some basic ailments or medical conditions.

If you suffer from foot drop, you need to address conditions like tendon, muscle or nerve injuries. This foot problem can arise from multiple sclerosis, injury to the spinal cord or a sudden stroke. Sometimes drug reactions can also cause the condition. It can be hereditary too. Some may experience foot drop for a temporary period, while for many it can turn out to be a permanent problem. Discussed below are a few facts which would help you prevent foot drop.

What causes foot drop

Try walking on your heels for a few minutes and if you experience some difficulty, then there is every chance that you suffer from foot drop. As already mentioned, this particular condition arises from tendon or muscle damage which can happen from a sudden injury or some other medical condition. A hip or knee surgery can directly cause foot drop. Disorder of the central nervous system might also lead to this foot condition. Adverse reaction of some drugs especially the ones used during chemotherapy can cause the illness, though for a temporary period. Alcohol can be the reason too.

How to treat foot drop

Surgery is the only option if foot drop is the direct outcome of muscle or tendon injury or a herniated disc (sometimes called a slipped disk or a ruptured disk). In certain cases, podiatrists suggest nerve stimulation by surgically implanting a small device below the knee; it is done if nerve damage is the prime cause. This device generates small electrical pulses which stimulate the nerves to function normally while walking. Physical therapy and exercises are commonly suggested which help strengthen muscles and tendons, thereby preventing recurrence of foot drop.

Accessories that help reduce discomfort due to foot drop

A number of devices are available to reduce discomfort caused by foot drop. You can opt for blanket lifters which protect sensitive feet from excessive weight of the blanket or heavy sheets. It is particularly advised after foot drop surgery. A splint or brace can help stabilize and soothe foot and ankle joint. Mostly designed like a boot, the brace supports your foot while walking. Then there are other devices such as foot positioner, heel guard, foot elevator and foot lifter, each of which is specifically designed to prevent further damage to and stress of tendons and muscles.

When to seek medical advice

If you suffer from foot drop, then it would be the right thing to seek immediate medical advice. You can consult a qualified foot specialist to follow the right course of treatment and to check whether you need any surgery. If any medical condition is the cause of the problem, that needs to be attended too.

Preventing foot drop is not that tough. Do not make things tougher for you, if you already suffer it: you just need to be aware of the right solution that works best for you.

Wednesday, 28 October 2015

4 Foot Problems and Solutions Bodybuilders should be Aware of

Bodybuilding is almost like constructing a house which demands a well-designed and solid foundation. If you are a bodybuilder, your foot is undoubtedly that foundation which supports the entire symmetrical structure of your body. During the bodybuilding process if your foot is injured or tendon is overstretched, that will automatically affect other body parts.

Weightlifters usually face a few common foot problems which in turn can cause hip, knee or back pain. If you have been experiencing a forefoot shooting pain, or find it difficult to squat or perform leg press, these are then telltale signs that you need to consult a podiatrist immediately. Discussed below are four common foot problems and solutions which every bodybuilder needs to be aware of.

1. Tightness of Achilles tendon

It is important to confirm whether the problem is due to inflexibility of gastrocnemius or calf muscle. Stretch that affected muscle for at least 30 seconds. If you are not sure which muscle is actually causing the problem then stretch both. In case the problem persists, you would do well to consult a licensed foot specialist for proper guidance.

2. Plantar fasciitis

If you experience weakness, swollenness or irritation of the plantar fasciitis (i.e. the flat ligament band which connects the heel bone to the toes), that means the balance of the arch of your foot is disturbed. Use of ice pack can relieve the pain, if you apply it every day for at least 10-15 minutes. Do some stretching exercises of the gastrocnemius and soleus muscles. In case of severe pain, you can try anti-inflammatory drugs, and if the pain still persists, then do seek professional help.

3. Flat feet/High arches

If you are into bodybuilding or any other strenuous sports activities, then you need to be careful of the flat feet and high arches. Those with high-arched feet are most likely to suffer from hammer toes, whereas flat feet can give rise to knee or hip pain.  A gait-analysis should be carried out to determine your specific problem. Based on the result, the podiatrist suggests the right type of sports shoe or orthotic; it can offer necessary support to your strained foot arch or heel. If your foot tends to pronate often, then it becomes even more necessary to invest in an appropriate training shoe.

4. Toe cramps

Generally athletes don’t take toe cramps that seriously. In fact, a study says that around 95% populace worldwide experience muscle cramps at some point. Extreme physical activities and low calcium, magnesium or potassium levels are the prime reasons behind frequent muscle cramps.  Dehydration can also cause toe cramps. If nutrition deficiency is the cause, it can be corrected by revising the diet chart. In case you notice that the toe cramp lasts for more than a few seconds and frequently, then you need to consult a podiatrist.

Always maintain correct foot position whenever you are squatting or leg-pressing. Not only does it ensure better results from the exercise, but also gives complete protection to your feet and knee joints. And most importantly, don’t ignore your foot problems. Seek podiatric help in time, if you don’t want an abrupt end to your weightlifting career.

Wednesday, 23 September 2015

Five Simple Ways for You to Recover from Metatarsalgia

Foot is an integral body part that often acts as the shock absorber, since it has to endure the cumulative weight of your body. The foot condition can turn graver when your routine includes long hours of running or standing at a stretch. As your entire body weight transfers to your metatarsals i.e. the five long bones that connect the phalanges of your toes to the tarsal bones, this can result in inflammation, pain and irritation. Metatarsal bones being the key parts, which provide proper foot movement by working with ligaments, connective tissues, and tendons, their malfunctioning can pose real problems.

Metatarsalgia also known as stone bruise is a foot condition which basically arises due to uneven distribution of body weight across the feet.  The condition can be detected easily as you start feeling a stabbing, burning, or aching pain just beneath the toes. The symptoms usually take more than a month to build up, which means one can easily prevent and recover from Metatarsalgia, with a little bit awareness. Indicated below are five simple ways following which you can get relief from Metatarsalgia.

Pick the right footwear

If your foot is flat or neutral shaped, then look for shoes that come with wide toe boxes. A dome-shaped metatarsal pad would also help in protecting your metatarsal bones from throbbing pain.

Consider shock-absorbing insoles and extra cushioning

Orthotics or fitted insoles are often recommended by podiatrists as these can distribute foot pressure evenly while improving the function. Shock absorbing insoles can offer great relief while walking, as these help shield the ball of your foot. Doctors recommend arch supports, in case fitted insoles turn out to be ineffective.

Watch Your Weight

This is the most crucial precaution, which you need to take strictly to recover from Metatarsalgia. Check your food habits and change lifestyle as these are the key factors which mostly cause weight gain.  Do some hard workout to keep your weight under control and also to prevent stone bruises.

Rest Your Feet

Your feet need a break if showing signs of Metatarsalgia. Bring down your mileage and try to run on softer surfaces; even better if you can switch to low-impact activities at least temporarily. Applying ice pack during the first 24 hours can provide instant relief. If the pain is too acute, you may start physician-prescribed anti-inflammatory drugs.

Consult a doctor or podiatrist

This is the final piece of advice which you shouldn’t ignore, if the symptoms of Metatarsalgia do not subside within a week or so, in spite of adopting all precautionary measures. Your metatarsal pad or orthotic selection might be wrong, or you may need to get rid of the callus. Only a podiatrist can suggest the right kind of footwear matching your foot type, stride and exercise pattern. He carries out a detailed assessment of the foot condition and suggests remedies accordingly.

Don’t take stone bruise lightly as it can lead to painful swelling of joints, stiffness and numbness. If you often have this feeling like “walking on pebbles”, then consult the podiatrist to confirm whether your metatarsal bones are in perfect shape or not.

Friday, 28 August 2015

When Should Runners Visit a Podiatrist? 4 Tell-tale Symptoms

Any accomplishment involves quite a bit of effort and comes with its own set of challenges. If you are a runner, perhaps you know it all too well. You may even have encountered pain in the ankles and feet or other foot ailments while running. Though tolerable pains are common in runners and can be dealt with some foot massage and medications, you should visit a podiatrist if you observe these four signs:

1.Pain while performing daily activities: Runners who run everyday often experience muscle soreness or tightness at the beginning of their schedule. If you too have experienced them, you may have noticed how they usually disappear once you do some warm-up stretches. You could even use the R.I.C.E. method (Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation), which involves resting well, using ice packs, getting the affected area compressed with appropriate pressure, and elevating the limb according to the type of pain experienced. However, if you fail to get relief despite using all these methods and start experiencing pain even during your daily activities (like walking, standing etc), it’s time to seek an appointment with a podiatrist.

2.Pain with other symptoms: If you ever experience tingling sensation or numbness in your feet and legs, it could be due to vascular or neurological problems. You shouldn’t ignore them, and should visit your podiatrist immediately. In case you notice swelling in your joints or other parts of the leg and feet, it may indicate inflammation, which again warrants speedy medical attention. Usually, the ideal thing to do in such cases is to quit running and get you treated.

3.Pain that alters an individual’s way of walking/running: The concept of walking/running gait refers to the rhythm with which either foot strikes a walking/running surface. Human gaits do differ from person to person. However, all runners may suffer from some common problems like overpronation (or flat feet, a common biomechanical problem that occurs in the walking/running process when a person's arch collapses upon weight bearing) and supination (turning the hand and forearm with the palm facing up or forwards). Running gait problems may also trigger heel and arch pain, knee and ankle pain, flat feet, back and hip pain, among others. Though wearing the correct shoes can help you avoid some of these problems, other gait issues may need to be addressed by using orthotic inserts (shoe inserts and insoles for foot support). Therefore, you should see a podiatrist whenever you notice symptoms of these ailments or experience pain and discomfort known to be caused by running gait issues.

4.Chronic pain: If you have been a long-time runner and have had running injuries or foot and ankle problems in the past, you may end up developing chronic pain in the ankle, knee or feet. This certainly calls for immediate medical attention and must not be ignored.

As a runner, you should seek a podiatrist’s opinion when you notice these signs and symptoms as mentioned above, but aren’t sure about the exact cause triggering the pain and discomfort. Even when you suffer from an injury or have a health condition (such as diabetes or arthritis) that can make the problems worse, it’s ideal to seek immediate medical attention. So, stay alert to keep your feet healthy and enjoy running.

Thursday, 23 July 2015

Fond of Wearing High Heels in Style? Stop Today or Brace for Foot Ailments Tomorrow

Many women spend a lot on pedicure as well as buying stylish, high-heels. They have a strong belief that their style statement would be incomplete unless they pair that beautiful little black dress or the gorgeous one with a stunning stiletto or a stylish gladiator. If you too have a fetish for high heels, don't worry! You are not alone! You have a large company. However, there is something else that you need to worry about now!

If you continue wearing high heels regularly, they will make you raise your heel, which in turn would push the center of gravity of your body forward.

Wondering what the big deal is? Well, it may lead to quite a few health problems.

Ailments triggered by high heels

  • Sciatica: This is one of the most common problems. A nagging pain starts in the lower back and spreads through your leg, calf, buttock and at times, the foot. If you have been wearing high heels regularly, you might already have been affected by it.
  • Shortening of the tendon: Wearing high heels may cause the Achilles tendon to tighten. If you wear high heels continuously, this may lead to a condition known as Achilles tendinitis.
  • Chronic pain in tendons: The Achilles tendon connects the heel bone to the calf muscle. If you wear high heels, it will cause a chronic pain in the tendons.
  • Bunions/bony growths at the bottom of the big toe: Wearing shoes with high heels or that are too small for your feet may lead to bony growths or bunions at the base of your big toe. If not taken care of, this may lead to metatarsalgia, a condition of the part of the foot between the ankle and the toes.
  • Hammertoes: This is another common form of deformity caused by wearing high heels. In this condition, one of your toes curls downwards.
  • Stress fractures/cracks in the bones of the feet: Worst of all, wearing high heels may lead to stress fractures. Small breaks in the toe bones or the metatarsals may turn out to be extremely painful.

Is there a way out?

Letting go of your high heels may be a tough task. However, with some preventive measures and keeping the following few things in mind, you can avoid the ailments listed above and the consequent pain and discomfort. Choosing low heels: Consider choosing shoes with heels measuring 1.5 inches or lesser. Ideally, you should prefer the heels that have a wide base.

  • Wearing soft insoles: This is one of the most important tricks as it will decrease the impact on your knees, thus keeping your feet healthy.
  • Choosing Shoes of the right fit: This is an all-time favorite tip to follow. You should make sure the shoes that you wear are of the right size so that your feet don't slide forward or get pinched.
  • Wearing heels depending on your day’s schedule – This is a smart trick to follow. It's best to wear heels on those days when you don't need to walk around a lot or stand for long periods of time.

The Last Word

Wearing high heels with certain dresses may help you look supremely stylish. But you should be careful not to trade your health for style.Certainly it pays to ensure that your sense of style doesn't restrict your ability to step or stand pain free. So, if you need to wear flats and avoid high heels completely for a healthy life, you shouldn’t think twice.

Monday, 29 June 2015

Are You a Sportsperson? 7 Steps for You to Prevent Ankle and Foot Injuries

If you are a sportsperson, perhaps foot and ankle injuries are your career-long companions. This could be more so if you are into body contact sports like baseball and football, or involved in high-intensity sports like tennis, marathons etc. However, with a little precaution on your part, you can keep these ‘companions’ far away from you. You can enjoy your favorite sports to the fullest without worrying about getting hurt or being tethered to your bed for months, after an injury. 

Here are seven steps, when followed, will help you prevent ankle and foot injuries.
  1. Warm up before your start: It's important to do a number of warm up exercises before you start any sports activity. For instance, you can do toe spread, calf stretch, seated arch stretch or calf drops to warm up your muscles. Even a slow jog for 2-3 minutes can serve the purpose.
  2. Get your muscles ready for the sport: You should gradually increase the amount of time you spend for each activity to build muscle mobility and strength rather than doing it all at one go. You can consider indulging in different activities for cross training to condition your muscles.
  3. Choose appropriate shoes suitable for your foot type: Apart from wearing good quality footwear, you should also be careful while choosing shoes for your use. For instance, if your feet have low arches, you should opt for shoes that provide support both at the front and under the arch of your feet.
  4. Replace your shoes at regular intervals: To keep your feet healthy, it's important to change your shoes at regular intervals. You should observe carefully when the heels wear down or the tread wears out; that’s the time to get your footwear replaced. It’s ideal to change your shoes every six months. In case you are an avid runner, you may have to replace your athletic shoes even before that.
  5. Take proper care while running uphill: Running uphill is one of the greatest workouts for all athletes. But you should acclimatize your body to this strenuous workout gradually, to avoid foot and ankle injuries. You should be equally careful while running downhill too; not being cautious may give rise to serious injuries.
  6. Don't run or step on bumpy surfaces: While running on uneven surfaces, you need to be very careful; you may stumble upon roots, holes, tree stumps or other obstacles. If you are bedeviled by cramps or other problems of your lower legs, foot doctors advise running on a soft surface instead.
  7. Listen to your body: While playing a sport, you should never ignore what your body tells you. In case you are experiencing ankle or foot pain during a specific activity, podiatrists advise you to avoid that particular activity. If needed, you can modify the activity to a certain extent and do it on a moderate level until the pain has subsided or is under control.
Apart from following these seven steps, you should follow some additional preventive measures. For instance, you should walk on your toe and heels alternatively. Also, you should not forget practicing cooling down exercises once your sports session ends. This would let your body relax gradually and shift to a resting or near-resting state.

Did you find these ideas useful? Leave a comment. Tell us what you would like to read further.

More in our next post.

Monday, 25 May 2015

Getting Claw Toes Treated

Claw toe is one of the most common foot diseases that people suffer from. This condition is triggered by wearing shoes that squeeze your toes. Wearing extremely high heels is also a reason of developing claw toes. This condition often occurs as a result of nerve damage that is caused by alcoholism or diabetes. Apart from weakening the muscles of your feet, claw toes also causes unbearable pain. If left untreated, it can get worse and may also cause permanent deformity.

What are the symptoms?

There are certain symptoms that can tell whether you are suffering from claw toes or not. These include if your toes are bent downward or upward at the middle joints or at the ball of the foot. Sometimes, corns may develop either under the balls of the foot or over the top of the toe.

What are the causes?

This condition can be caused by cerebral palsy, rheumatoid arthritis, brain and nervous system disorders, any kind of ankle surgery or fracture, and Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease.

Wearing a shoe that is too tight for your feet may also lead to claw toes. If you wear pointed shoes, the situation may get even worse. In case you wear pointed shoes with high heels, the foot will get constantly pushed downwards to a wall, which may cause severe pain and eventually lead to claw toes.

How to treat claw toes?

Although claw toes get cured normally in case they are at the initial stage, they might gradually turn out to be extremely hard in some cases. In the initial stage, it's advisable to use a tape or splint to hold the toes in the correct position. Additionally, you should make sure to wear shoes with roomy and soft toe boxes.

It’s important to wear the appropriate shoes for any activity that you may be involved in. Some foot doctors may recommend using non-medicated hammer toe pads that fit around your toe joint’s pointed top and help ease painful pressure.

To relive pain and swelling caused by claw toes, you can gently massage the affected area or apply ice packs wrapped in cloth.

Exercising and stretching your toes will help combat the condition. Try crumpling a towel laid flat on the floor or consider picking up marbles with your toes.

Surgical methods

If a claw toe doesn't get cured with the non-surgical methods, surgery is often recommended. The usual procedure followed for curing this ailment is called arthroplasty. This refers to the process of replacement or reconstruction of a joint. There are different types of surgery procedures followed to cure claw toes, which include: 

  • PIP Joint arthroplasty – It is performed on the PIP joint. In this process, an incision is made over the joint.
  • DIP Joint arthroplasty – It is suggested mainly for correcting hammer toe. This method is performed through a small incision on top of the toe over the DIP joint.
  • MTP Joint arthroplasty – Foot doctors recommend this method when it becomes difficult to cure claw toes with other methods. This is performed by making an incision over the MTP joint.
After the surgical methods are performed, patients are usually advised to wear a post-op shoe with a wooden and stiff sole that prevents the foot from bending.
So, the moment you notice any symptoms of claw toes or experience pain in the toe joints, consult a foot doctor immediately.