Posts for: July, 2016
Although summer brings lots of opportunities for fun activities it also can be a time of increased risk for certain common foot problems. At New England Foot & Ankle Specialists we want all of our patients to enjoy their fun in the sun and keep feet safe and healthy. Here are some common problems and what to do about them:
Problem: Sunburn—the skin on your feet is just as susceptible to sun burn as the rest of your body. Sunburn on your feet increases the risk of certain types of skin cancer as well.
Solution: Apply sunscreen liberally to your feet with the same frequency that you apply to other areas on your body. Make sure that even on days when you are just out running errands that you have sunscreen on your feet if you are wearing open shoes.
Problem: Blisters—new shoes purchased for vacation or long hikes are just a couple of reasons why you may end up with a blister this summer. Also, sweaty skin tends to increase friction with footwear making blisters more likely.
Solution: Be sure that shoes fit properly and feel comfortable when you buy them. Shop at the end of the day when feet are at their largest to avoid surprises later. If you do feel that the skin in one area is getting irritated, apply moleskin to protect that spot and try not to wear the same pair of shoes again for a few days.
Problem: Sprains—in the summer, people are more likely to spend time in flip flops or other footwear that doesn’t provide good ankle support. Also, impromptu games of beach volleyball or softball at the family barbeque can lead to sprains or other injuries.
Solution: Wear the right shoes for the activity you are engaged in. When in doubt, pack a pair of sneakers or other shoes that support your ankle and don’t play sports, hike or do other activities without the appropriate footwear.
Problem: Fungal Infections—public pools, beach changing rooms and other damp places where people go barefoot are perfect breeding grounds for bacteria and fungi.
Solution: Always were flip flops or shower shoes when walking in public places.
If you have a foot mishap this summer, contact our Reading office for an appointment. Prompt treatment by one of our podiatrists: Dr. George A. Abboud, Dr. Brian D. Tedesco, Dr. Carl Conui, or Dr. Kimberly Thurmond will bring relief and help you avoid bigger problems down the road.
After an impromptu football game at a family barbecue you notice that your big toe is a little sore. By the next day, the pain is intense. There is quite a bit of swelling at the base of the toe and it is difficult to bend it. If these symptoms sound familiar, you may be suffering from a condition we see regularly at New England Foot & Ankle Specialists known as turf toe.
Turf toe is actually a sprain of the big toe joint and it occurs as a result of hyperextension of the big toe. This can happen gradually over time if you participate in an activity that requires repetitive pushing off with your toe. Football, soccer, wrestling and gymnastics are the sports with the highest risk for this condition. Turf toe can also be the result of an acute injury, such as one really big push. Turf toe gets its name from the fact that on artificial turf surfaces your feet (and toes) are more likely to stick or jam on the turf when coming to a sudden stop.
Diagnosis and Treatment
Our podiatrists: Dr. George A. Abboud, Dr. Brian D. Tedesco, Dr. Carl Conui, or Dr. Kimberly Thurmond, will need to examine your toe and also obtain a complete medical history. The foot doctor will most likely also order x-rays to be sure that you do not have a fracture. Other imaging studies that allow the foot doctor to more clearly view soft tissue may also be done to confirm the diagnosis.
Initially, the foot doctor will probably recommend that you follow the RICE regimen: Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications may be prescribed to reduce inflammation and pain. Modifications to footwear may help prevent a recurrence of turf toe.
If your big toe is causing you pain, make an appointment at either our Reading office. Continuing normal activity with turf toe will result in the condition worsening and possibly more invasive treatment to correct it.
Cancer can develop in your feet just as in other parts of the body. Now that summer is here, it’s a good time to remind our patients to apply sunscreen to the tops and bottoms of their feet with the same frequency that you do the rest of your body when you are out in the sun. This will go a long way toward helping prevent skin cancer on your feet. Melanoma, the most serious form of skin cancer, makes up only 1% of skin cancers yet accounts for over 60% of skin cancer deaths. It is curable if caught early but on the feet it often progresses to a late stage because patients don’t spot it early on. At New England Foot & Ankle Specialists, we want to stress the importance of checking your feet regularly and reporting any changes or unusual symptoms to our podiatrists, George A. Abboud, DPM, Brian D. Tedesco, DPM, Carl Conui, DPM, and Kimberly Thurmond, DPM without delay.
Other types of cancers and tumors found in the foot include:
Osteochondromas—these are benign tumors found under the toenail and they make up approximately half of all benign bone tumors found in the foot. Typically, Osteochondromas are not painful and do not need to be removed, although they can deform the nail or cause an ingrown nail. They develop most often in children and young adults.
Neoplastic Disorders—tumors which form from abnormal tissue growth, these can be benign or malignant.
Giant Cell Tumors—although they sound scary, this type of tumor is benign but, because it grows in the tendon sheaths it can be very painful. Giant cell tumors may develop on the top or sides of the foot or on the toes.
Plantar Fibroma—this benign tumor grows deep inside the bottom of the foot on the fibrous band of tissue known as the plantar fascia, which runs from your heel to your toes. Depending on the size of the tumor and amount of discomfort it is causing, it may be treated conservatively with custom orthotics and other measures. If these do not work, the foot doctor may recommend surgically removing the fibroma.
It’s always better to be over cautious when it comes to lumps in your feet or unusual changes in the skin. If you have any concerns about anything you have found on your toes or feet, please contact our Reading office for an appointment.
A fungal toenail infection, also known as onychomycosis, often starts as a small white or yellow spot under the tip of one of your toenails. It is not usually painful or uncomfortable at this stage but as the infection goes deeper into your nail bed your nail begins to thicken and get brittle and crumbly at the edges. The whole nail will begin to be discolored due to the buildup of debris under the nail. The nail will look dull and not shiny. Eventually, the nail may even separate from the nail bed and this can be quite painful.
At New England Foot & Ankle Specialists we treat many cases of fungal toenails in the summer months. This is because fungi love moist, warm conditions. Places like public pools, changing rooms and rest rooms at the beach, nail salons and picnic pavilions at the lake are all likely to see lots of barefoot traffic. These are the perfect places for the fungus to flourish.
Our podiatrists: Dr. George A. Abboud, D.P.M., Dr. Brian D. Tedesco, D.P.M., Dr. Carl Conui, D.P.M., or Dr. Kimberly Thurmond, D.P.M, will need to examine the nail and possibly have some of the debris analyzed by the lab to see what type of fungi is causing the infection. This will determine the treatment. Fungal infections can take a long time to go away. The foot doctor may prescribe an oral or topical medication. Other treatments include debridement, which is cleaning out the debris from under the nail and partial or total removal of the infected nail. It is not uncommon for nail infections to reoccur.
Of course the best scenario is not to get a fungal infection. Here are some ways to protect your nails:
Wash feet every day and dry completely
Keep nails trimmed short and straight across
Do not go barefoot in public places
Don’t wear overly tight hosiery and look for socks made of material that wicks moisture away from your feet
Don’t use nail polish on nails you think may be infected. Always disinfect home pedicure tools and if you have professional pedicures make sure your salon properly sanitizes tools and foot baths
Use anti-fungal powder on feet
If possible, rotate shoes so that you don’t wear the same pair two days in a row
If you have any concerns about changes you notice in your toenails, make an appointment at our Reading office at your earliest convenience.