Posts for category: common foot conditions
Having itchy feet, particularly if you’re wearing socks and shoes and can’t get at them, can make you crazy! At New England Foot & Ankle Specialists, we treat many patients whose complaint is that their feet itch. There are, however, several different disorders that have itching as a symptom and they require different treatments.
Our podiatrists, George A. Abboud, D.P.M., Brian D. Tedesco, D.P.M., Carl Conui, D.P.M., and Kimberly Thurmond, D.P.M. will need to examine your foot and will want to ask you questions about your recent activities. Some common conditions that cause your feet to itch include:
Athlete’s foot—also known as tinea pedis, this is a fungal infection that usually starts between your toes. Initial symptoms are usually Itchy, red skin that’s dry and scaly. Athlete’s foot can spread to the soles of your feet and even blister if left untreated.
Dermatitis—this condition has two categories. Primary irritant dermatitis is a reaction to exposure to a harsh substance. This can occur if you have excessive exposure to chemicals, oil, or even hot water. Allergic contact dermatitis is the result of an allergic reaction to something like the dye in your socks, athletic tape or other material that has come in contact with your foot.
Xerosis—this is just a fancy medical term for very dry skin. Xerosis can develop from excessive showering or exposure to water, particularly hot water or using a soap that is very drying. Usually apply an extra-emollient moisturizer several times a day for a week or so takes care of this problem.
Once the foot doctor determines the cause of your itchy skin the proper treatment can be prescribed. Although these conditions are more of a nuisance than a medical threat for most people, patients with diabetes need to be extra cautious as any of these rashes can become infected and lead to long term problems. For all patients, however, it’s best to get skin conditions diagnosed and treated in their early stages when they are usually easy to get under control. If you have an irritating skin condition on your feet, contact our Reading office for an appointment.
What is Heel Spur Syndrome?
Heel Spur Syndrome is another name for Plantar Fasciitis where patients experience sometimes severe pain in the heel and arch of the foot. At New England Foot & Ankle Specialists, heel pain is one of the more common reason patients seek help. Heel spurs are small calcified deposits (like a fingernail) that form on the bottom of the heel bone. These spurs, however, are rarely the cause of the pain. The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons reports that one in 10 people have heel spurs but that only about 5% of them experience heel pain. For patients experiencing heel pain, the real cause is often the inflammation and irritation of the plantar fascia—a strong band of tissue that supports the arch of your foot and runs from the heel to the front of your foot.
Identifying Plantar Fasciitis
There are other potential causes of heel pain (including tendonitis, arthritis or a stress fracture) so the first job of 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 be able to correctly diagnose plantar fasciitis. A complete medical history and a thorough examination of your foot and heel will be done and diagnostic imaging studies including x-rays may be ordered.
As a patient, if you have heel spur syndrome, you are probably in a good deal of pain that can even prevent you from walking very far. A characteristic sign of this disorder is pain in the heel and the arch that is especially bad when you first wake up in the morning.
There are a number of treatments for heel spur syndrome aimed at both short term comfort and long term protection of this area of the foot. These may include:
Icing the affected area
Taking nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications
Choosing shoes with better arch support or using custom orthotics to properly position the foot and relieve pressure on the plantar fascia
Night splinting to keep the plantar fascia stretched overnight
Taping or strapping the foot
In some cases where the above therapies are not effective, your foot doctor may recommend surgery which might include removing the heel spurs. As with all foot and ankle conditions, it’s best to get the pain evaluated sooner rather than later. If your heel is hurting, contact our Reading office for an appointment.
One of the conditions that patients frequently come to New England Foot & Ankle Specialists for is warts. Although warts are not often harmful, they can be quite painful and grow and spread to other parts of the body as well, if left untreated.
What Causes Warts?
Warts are caused by a virus that can enter the skin on your foot through the tiniest of cuts or abrasions. The virus is spread by direct contact. That means that walking barefoot in public places like gyms, community pools, showers and locker rooms and sharing socks or shoes with others are prime opportunities for being exposed to the virus that causes warts. There are two kinds of warts that affect the feet:
Foot warts—these can appear anywhere on the foot or toes. They are usually fleshy and raised and sometimes mistaken for calluses or corns initially. Foot warts can grow to an inch or more across or spread and develop into clusters of warts. Sometimes foot warts will disappear and then return in the same location.
Plantar warts or verrucas—these warts are opposite in appearance to foot warts. They are usually hard and flat and will have a rough surface with pinpoints of black in the center. Plantar warts most often form on the soles of the feet and tend to be more painful because they are bearing the weight of your body when you walk on them.
What Can be Done About Warts?
Warts can be very resistant to treatment. Although there are over-the-counter products available to treat them, these are often ineffective. If you notice a wart on your foot, contact our Reading office and have one of our podiatrists, Dr. George A. Abboud, Dr. Brian D. Tedesco, Dr. Carl Conui, or Dr. Kimberly Thurmond examine it. Treatment options include prescription ointments and medications, laser cautery and freezing. The foot doctor will be able to determine the most effective treatment for your wart.
A Neuroma is an enlargement or thickening of nerve tissue. This benign condition can develop in many parts of the body, including the foot. The most frequent form of Neuroma that we treat at New England Foot & Ankle Specialists is Morton’s Neuroma which occurs between the third and fourth toes on the ball of the foot.
What Causes Neuromas?
Neuromas occur when nerves get irritated due to the friction of tissue rubbing up against them or from excess pressure. One of the most common sources of this nerve irritation is the pressure from shoes that have a tight toe box or high heels (which force the toes into the front of the shoe). Other possible causes include:
Overuse from activities that deliver repeated pounding to the ball of the foot, such as basketball or running
An injury or trauma to the foot
Oftentimes the symptoms of Morton’s Neuroma start gradually. Patients may feel pain or the sensation that there is a rock in their shoe or something under the ball of the foot. Other signs include tingling, burning or numbness in the affected area of the foot. Although symptoms may be alleviated temporarily with rest or massaging the painful area, they will only get worse over time. Left untreated, Neuromas will result in permanent nerve damage.
If these symptoms sound familiar, make an appointment to see one of our podiatrists, George A. Abboud, D.P.M., Brian D. Tedesco, D.P.M., Carl Conui, D.P.M., and Kimberly Thurmond, D.P.M. A complete physical exam, medical history and the use of imaging studies will help the foot doctor confirm a diagnosis of Morton’s Neuroma.
There are several non-surgical treatment options available, including orthotics and cortisone shots. In extreme cases, surgery may be recommended. If you believe you may have a Neuroma in your foot, contact our Reading office as soon as possible and put yourself on the road to relief.
Flatfoot—partial or total collapse of the arch of the foot-- is a complicated condition that has varying degrees of severity. At New England Foot & Ankle Specialists, our podiatrists, George A. Abboud, D.P.M., Brian D. Tedesco, D.P.M., Carl Conui, D.P.M., and Kimberly Thurmond, D.P.M. will take a complete medical history and then examine your foot and ankle to check the extent of the arch collapse and also try to determine the cause. X-rays may also be ordered to get a better look at the arch. Here are some common questions about flatfoot:
My toddler appears to have flatfeet; should I be concerned?
It’s normal for babies and very young children to have flatfeet before they begin to walk. Once your child starts to walk, the arch should begin to develop. If an older child develops flatfeet, an examination by the podiatrist is in order, especially if your child is experiencing any pain in the foot or arch.
When I am standing it doesn’t appear that I have an arch but when I am sitting, I do. Is this normal?
This is called flexible flatfoot and it is one of the most prevalent types of the disorder. It is a progressive condition and as time goes on the ligaments and tendons in the arch can tear and become inflamed, causing pain in the heel, arch, ankle or shins.
I have flatfeet but am not experiencing any pain. Do I need to see the foot doctor?
Yes, even if you are not in pain you should make an appointment to have your feet evaluated in either our Reading office. The podiatrist can determine the cause of your flatfeet and may recommend certain treatments to help slow the progression of the disorder.
What treatments are available for flatfeet?
There are a number of treatment options that your foot doctor may choose to help relieve pain and fatigue caused by flatfeet. Custom orthotics or other modifications to your footwear may be able to provide additional arch support. Physical therapy and exercises can also help. In some cases, modifying activities so that you do less prolonged walking and standing may be suggested.
As with many foot and ankle conditions, getting treatment early on can prevent flatfeet from becoming disabling and interfering with your lifestyle. If you think you may have flatfeet or have other questions about this condition, contact us. Keeping your feet healthy is our goal!