My heel hurts – what should I do?

Your heels take a pounding every day. They absorb much of the impact when you walk, run, and stand for long periods. They have muscles and ligaments that work hard and get strained by activity. Your heel bone is also the largest bone in your foot.

So it’s no surprise that heel pain is one of the most common complaints podiatrists see every day. The problem is, there is no one-size-fits-all solution for heel pain. Your treatment will depend on what’s causing your pain and your individual health history.

Pain on the Bottom of the Heel

Does it hurt directly under your heel? This could be a result of:

  • Stepping on something hard, such as a rock. This is called a “stone bruise,” which injures the pad under your heel. Although you may not see signs of a typical bruise with discoloration, a stone bruise can be painful. It usually heals well on its own within a few weeks.

  • Plantar fasciitis. This common condition is caused by straining the plantar fascia, which is the band of tissue that covers the bottom of your foot. When the plantar fascia gets overstretched from excessive running or improper footwear, the pain will become noticeable in the heel. Often the pain is worse in the morning, and gets better after you move around. Without treatment, plantar fasciitis often gets worse with time and can lead to bone spurs.

Both of these conditions often heal with rest, ice, and using pain relievers as directed. But, if your heel pain doesn’t improve with these measures, it’s best to have a podiatrist evaluate your problem. Often a custom orthotic, therapy, stretching or other non-invasive treatment can address the issue and achieve relief.

Pain Behind the Heel

Pain behind the heel is typically not caused by stepping on something or plantar fasciitis. Usually, this signals a problem with your Achilles tendon, which may include:

  • Bursitis of the heel. This is also called retrocalcaneal bursitis, and is swelling of a fluid-filled sac at the back of your heel. This bursa is located where the Achilles tendon connects the calf muscle to the heel bone. Inflammation is often caused by doing too much exercise too quickly, and the pain is typically worse during activity.

  • Achilles tendinitis. This is inflammation in the Achilles tendon itself, which connects your calf muscles to the back of your heel. Similar to bursitis of the heel, it is often caused by overuse or too vigorous of an exercise program, as well as tight calf muscles. This condition causes pain during walking or running, and you may be able to see swelling along the back of your heel area.

For these conditions, your podiatrist may recommend rest, ice, avoiding activities that cause pain, and special shoe inserts that help reduce strain on the Achilles tendon. Surgery is only recommended if the pain is severe and other measures haven’t been successful.

Don’t ignore heel pain, or it may get worse over time! Talk to an expert about your foot problems. Contact the office of Dr. Jeffery LaMour to get back on your feet again!

Why does my foot cramp?

Muscle cramps can be a real pain — and they often strike at the most inconvenient times. The middle of the night is a prime time for painful foot cramps and charley horses, waking you from your much-needed sleep. They may also occur during exercise and activity.

Fortunately, foot cramps are usually nothing serious, and there are plenty of ways you can help prevent them from happening.

What is a Cramp?

A cramp is simply a contraction of a muscle that usually causes pain. The pain is usually sharp enough to stop you in your tracks. You may know you’re having a cramp, but determining the cause isn’t always so simple.

Check your Hydration

The muscles in your feet work hard every day. They flex and move with every step, and they’re also helping to support your entire body. If you haven’t had enough to drink, your muscles lose the necessary fluids they need to function well. Dehydrated muscles tend to cramp up more.

Aim for eight glasses of water a day, or more if you’re sweating or exercising.

Lack of Stretching

Stretching is essential for healthy muscles, and proper stretching can keep your feet feeling great too. If your muscles are stiff from lack of stretching, they may tend to cramp more frequently. Flexible muscles are healthy muscles!

Try a simple stretching routine, and don’t overdo it. Stretch slowly and gently, and stop if you feel pain. Your podiatrist can recommend specific exercises that will benefit your foot health needs.

Excessive Exercise

Exercise is great for the body, but pushing yourself to the limit can leave you in pain afterward. If you exercise much harder or longer than usual, your muscles will feel the strain. Not only can this leave you fatigued, but you experience soreness and muscle cramps.

The best way to increase your fitness level is to build up gradually, without overdoing it. Always talk with your doctor if you have any health concerns or conditions before you start a rigorous exercise program.

Electrolyte Imbalance

The electrolytes essential for healthy muscles are calcium, sodium, potassium, and magnesium. Excessive exercise without replenishing electrolytes, or taking supplements that disrupt electrolyte balance, could cause more muscle cramping. If your diet is lacking in nutrients, this could create problems for your muscles as well.

Eat a balanced diet with a variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein. Talk with your doctor about any special dietary needs, and be sure to discuss any vitamins or supplements you take.

The Wrong Shoes

Shoes play a big role in how your feet feel every day, Wearing shoes without proper support, such as flip flops, can definitely cause cramping. If you’re going to be on your feet for long periods, make sure your shoes are in good condition, have adequate room for your feet, and include good arch and ankle support. Shoes with the APMA Seal of Acceptance are always safe choices.

Your Podiatrist Can Help You Stop Foot Cramps

Foot cramps are uncomfortable, but rarely serious. If you notice cramping regularly and cannot determine the cause,see your podiatrist. Correcting any foot problems early gives you the best chance for effective relief.

Do you have a foot health question or concern? Contact Dr. Jeffery LaMour to learn how you can keep your feet as healthy as possible for a lifetime.

Should I use an insole?

Stores everywhere carry a variety of insoles for shoes that claim to reduce pain and help your feet. It seems like a great idea: slip these gadgets into your shoes and you’ll get extra cushion and shock absorption. But should you use them? And how do you choose one?

Types of Insoles

To determine whether an insole might work for you, it’s best to know what insoles are intended to do. Comfort insoles are basically extra cushioning and padding that can reduce foot fatigue if you’re on your feet all day. They help absorb shock and may benefit people who have standing jobs. But, they won’t correct shoes that have inadequate or poor support.

Sport insoles are not “cushy” feeling, but are usually firm and designed for a specific purpose. Many are designed to provide arch support, correct overpronation (inward rolling of the feet), or to otherwise help align the foot in the shoe. To use these properly, it’s important to first be aware of your foot issues and what you need to correct them. Using an insole improperly, or the wrong type, can actually make some foot pain and problems worse.

How to Use Insoles

Try these tips for proper insole usage to minimize any problems:

  • Put the insole on the floor and stand on it as if it’s in your shoe. Stand on each insole, one foot at a time, to see how it feels.

  • Make sure you have room in your shoes. Any time you add an insole, you make your shoe a little tighter. Sometimes people buy shoes a half size larger to accommodate an insole they like. Just make sure your feet have enough room to move. In general, there should be a quarter to half inch of space between the tip of your toe and the end of the shoe.

  • Before wearing any insole for long periods, try it out for a short amount of time to ensure it isn’t making you uncomfortable. Foot pain is a red flag that you have the wrong insole!

Start with the Right Shoes

Insoles can be beneficial for people who need a little extra padding or support. But they aren’t a cure-all if you have wor-out shoes or those without proper support to begin with. In many cases, switching to a properly fitting, supportive shoe can reduce or eliminate foot fatigue and pain. Look for shoes that have the Seal of Acceptance from the American Podiatric Medical Association.

If the right shoes aren’t enough and you still have foot pain, it may be time to see your podiatrist. Certain foot problems can be corrected with proper support from insoles or orthotics, but you’ll need a podiatrist’s expert opinion on your individual foot issues. He or she can provide a recommendation on what you should wear to correct foot issues and get you back to living without foot pain.

Take charge of foot pain – contact Dr. Jeffery LaMour to schedule your podiatry appointment today!

Stinky Feet Culprits and Solutions

Although foot odor is a common problem, it’s also one most of us would like to avoid. It can be embarrassing and downright unpleasant – for you and those around you. Fortunately, there are some common causes of stinky feet and some quick, simple ways you can help keep it at bay.

Hormones and Foot Sweat

It seems obvious: the more feet sweat, the more they tend to smell. But why do some people’s feet seem to always be sweaty? Hormones may be to blame.

Hormonal changes that occur during the teen years can lead to excessive foot sweating – and subsequent odor, especially in shoes worn frequently. So it’s not just your imagination – your teenage son’s feet really do stink worse than everyone else’s.

Similarly, a pregnant woman’s heightened sense of smell may make her more aware of her own foot odor. Pregnancy hormonal changes often cause feet to sweat more.

Stress can also play a role. The hormones your body releases when you’re anxious or stressed can make feet (and hands) sweat more than usual.

Medical Conditions Related to Foot Odor

Although sweaty feet aren’t always a cause for concern, it’s important to note that some medical conditions could be related to excessive sweating. A condition called secondary hyperhidrosis can result from certain conditions such as heart failure, Parkinson’s, diabetes, thyroid problems, rheumatoid arthritis, and more.

Secondary hyperhidrosis causes sweating all over the body – not just your feet. If you sweat excessively all over and don’t know the cause, a visit to your doctor is advised to rule out any possible medical problems.

How to Combat Foot Odor

If you’ve got foot odor due to hormones or you’re simply on your feet a lot, there are some measures you can take at home to combat this.

  • Let your shoes dry out. Alternate shoes each day and leave the damp ones out in open air for at least 24 hours or until they’ve dried completely.

  • Wash your feet thoroughly each day in the shower, preferably with an antibacterial soap. But, avoid harsh soaps if you have eczema or another skin condition. Just clean your feet thoroughly twice a day with a gentle skin cleanser.

  • That trusty antiperspirant you use under your arms can also be used on your feet! Apply a light layer to your freshly washed feet before you put on your socks or shoes.

  • Consider the materials in your footwear. Plastic or non-breathable shoes are bound to trap moisture and bacteria, leading to odor. And polyester or nylon socks don’t breathe as well as natural cotton or wool. You may wish to change into a clean, dry pair of  socks half way through your day if possible.

See your podiatrist if your foot odor doesn’t improve with these steps. He or she may need to determine whether a bacterial or fungal infection is causing the issue, or may prescribe a stronger treatment to help combat the sweating.

Are you troubled by excessively sweaty feet or foot odor? Contact the podiatry office of Dr. Jeffery LaMour to get control of this condition and feel great about your feet again!

When Should Bunions be Operated On?

Bunions are a very common foot problem. In fact, over 20 percent of all adults have them. A bunion happens when the big toe starts to lean toward the second toe, rather than straight ahead. This eventually results in the well-known bunion “bump” on the outside of the big toe.

Although they can cause pain and discomfort, not all bunions require surgery. Many can be effectively managed with the help of your podiatrist and proper home care.

Treating Bunions Without Surgery

If you’re not having extreme pain and are able to carry on with most of your activities, one of these options may work well for your bunion treatment:

  • Getting the proper shoes. Wearing high heels or shoes with a narrow toe box can rub against the bunion and make it worse. Choose comfortable, supportive shoes that are wide enough for your feet.
  • Cushions or pads. You may find relief if you use a special pad or cushion on the bunion to help avoid friction and irritation.
  • Changes in exercise. If certain activities such as running cause more pain, find alternatives that are easier on your feet. Swimming and biking are often good choices.
  • Ice and/or anti-inflammatory medications. Icing the area several times a day and using medications like ibuprofen can help when the pain is bothering you. This will bring down inflammation and make you more comfortable.
  • Orthotics. Your podiatrist may recommend a special insert for your shoe to help relieve bunion pain.
  • Foot exercises to avoid stiffness.
  • A foot splint you wear at night to help align the foot properly.

When Surgery is Needed

Bunion surgery may be considered if the options above aren’t working for you. People who are generally good candidates for surgery:

  • Have significant pain that interferes with daily life. For instance, you can’t walk more than a block without pain even with the correct shoes and padding.
  • Have a foot deformity that results in the big toe “crossing over” the second toe.
  • Have constant swelling in the bunion that doesn’t get better with ice and medications.
  • Can’t straighten or move their big toe.

About Bunion Surgery

As with any surgery, you should weigh the risks of surgery and the potential benefits. For people who cannot enjoy daily life due to bunion pain, surgery is often well worth the time needed. There are different techniques available to treat bunions, but the goal of any surgery should be to properly realign the toe and relieve pain. Your podiatrist can talk with you about which surgery might work for you, and what you can expect during and after the procedure.

Do you have a bump on the side of your big toe? Have you been told you have a bunion? Don’t ignore this problem, as it often gets worse without proper care. Contact our office to find out how we can help you get relief!

What Makes a Good Podiatrist?

This article will offer some points that patients should consider when choosing, evaluating, or recommending a podiatrist. The article will include several factors that are tell-tale signs of a ‘good’ podiatrist, including:

Are you considering going to a podiatrist, but you’re not sure how to decide which podiatrist is best for you? Like choosing any other type of physician, selecting a podiatrist is not an easy undertaking. You could ask friends and relatives for a recommendation, but how can you be sure that their opinion is the same as yours would be? Advertisements and commercials aren’t reliable either.

So how do you know if the podiatrist you’re interested in or the one you’re currently seeing is worth his or her salt? The following guidelines that can help you save time and effort in choosing or evaluating a podiatrist.

If you don’t already have a list of podiatrists you’re interested in, start by gathering recommendations from others, or researching online or in the local phone book to make a list of podiatrists in your area. Next, make an appointment with one of the podiatrists on your list. The purpose of the appointment is for you to have a chance to evaluate the podiatrist via your personal interaction. During your visit, you’ll be able to tell if your chosen podiatrist is a good one if he fits the following criteria:

Provides personalized treatment options, not ‘one-size-fits-all’ solutions

When you tell the podiatrist about the foot problems you’re experiencing, does he or she automatically recommend surgery or another expensive treatment? A good podiatrist will provide you with a range of options to choose from, depending on the nature and severity of your specific problem.

Listens to patients

A good podiatrist will be willing to spend time listening to your concerns and questions as a new patient about any issues or complications you have with your feet. Your podiatrist should not make you feel rushed during your appointment and should build trust with you as a patient by providing clear and understandable answers to your questions.

Board certified, and/or member of a professional association

Check your podiatrist’s credentials, background, and education to verify his or her qualifications. A good podiatrist should not only be well-trained and experienced, he or she should be Board-certified by a credible authority and should also be a member of at least one professional association, such as the American Podiatric Medical Association (APMA). Professional associations set high standards of behavior that all members must follow to remain in good standing.

Satisfied patients

A good podiatrist should be able to provide testimonials or references from other patients. If these aren’t readily available on the podiatrist’s website or in the office, don’t be afraid to ask for them. If possible, ask for permission to contact 2 or 3 patients so you can understand what their experiences with this podiatrist were like.

If you’re looking for a highly-qualified, experienced and Board-certified Austin podiatrist, make an appointment with Dr. Lamour. With over 15 years in business in Austin, Dr. Lamour has a proven track record of providing stellar service to his patients.

Toenail Fungus ? Why Does It Keep Coming Back?

Have you tried to get rid of toenail fungus repeatedly, but it still keeps rearing its ugly head? There can be many reasons that toenail fungus won’t go away for good – figuring out the source of your problem will help you find the appropriate way to treat it.

Fungi – including the kind that cause fungal nail infections – are microscopic organisms that live and thrive in warm, moist environments including locker rooms, swimming pools and showers. These organisms can make their way under your nail through tiny cuts in your skin or through a small separation between your nail and nail bed. While nail fungus can happen on either fingernails or toenails, two factors help make fungal toenail infections more common:

  •        Toenails are often confined inside of shoes – a dark, warm, moist environment where fungi can thrive.
  •        Toes usually have less blood flow than fingers, which can make it harder for your body’s immune system to detect and fight a fungal infection.

Aside from these factors, there are several reasons why fungal nail infections may seem to clear up but never go away.

Recurring Fungal Nail Infection – Possible Causes

  •         Repeat Exposure To Infected Surfaces – One of the most common causes for recurring fungal toenails is the continued presence of fungus in the shoes. Sharing a shower or bathroom space with someone who has a fungal toenail infection is another common source of repeat infection.
  •         Not fully treated – Effectively treating toenail fungus can be very difficult since the infection is located beneath the nail. Over-the-counter treatments and home remedies may temporarily relieve or reduce symptoms of a fungal nail infection but not get rid of it completely.
  •         Compromised Immune System – If your body’s natural infection-fighting defenses are weakened due to a condition or medication that you’re taking, it can be harder to get rid of a fungal nail infection.
  •         Other conditions – Conditions that cause poor blood flow to your feet, like diabetes, can affect the ability of your feet to heal after injury or infection. Having diabetes, circulation, or nerve problems in your feet puts you at greater risk of repeat fungal infection.

Tips to Keep Toenail Fungus from Coming Back

  •         Disinfect your shoes with an antifungal spray or powder.
  •         Wear socks made of moisture-absorbing fabrics like wool, nylon and polypropylene. Change your socks often, especially if you have sweaty feet.
  •         Don’t wear shoes all day long or multiple days in a row – allow them to air out between wearings.
  •         Don’t trim or pick at the skin around your toenails. This may make your skin and nails more susceptible to fungal infection.
  •         Don’t go barefoot in public places. Wear flip-flops or shower shoes around pools, showers, and locker rooms.
  •         Talk with your podiatrist about fungal toenail treatment options like oral antifungal medications, laser nail therapy, and toenail removal.

If other treatments for fungal toenail infections haven’t helped, make an appointment with us today. We can help you find out what’s causing your repeat infections and help you get rid of toenail fungus.

Frequently Asked Questions About Ingrown Toenails

Ingrown toenails are one of the most common foot conditions that people experience. While it’s not usually a very serious condition, an ingrown toenail can be very painful, uncomfortable and unsightly. If not treated properly, an ingrown toenail can cause infection and other complications. Because ingrown toenails are a concern for many of our patients, we’ve compiled practical information about ingrown toenails into a collection of answers to the most common questions about ingrown toenails. 

Can you get an ingrown toenail on any toe?

Ingrown toenails most commonly occur on the big toes, even though any toe can be affected.

What causes ingrown toenails?

When the edge of a toenail begins growing sideways into the adjacent skin, the nail may cause a break in the skin. The body’s natural immune response treats the invading toenail like a foreign body, causing inflammation. The inflammation often causes more thickening of the nail skin; the protruding piece of nail keeps pushing into the skin, causing further injury and pain. 

When should you see a doctor for an ingrown toenail?

People with diabetes and anyone with a weakened immune system should immediately see a medical professional for an ingrown toenail. For others, ingrown toenails that are very painful, show signs of infection, or do not improve after five to ten days of at-home treatment warrant a trip to the doctor. Signs of infection include swelling, redness, throbbing, and pain or yellow or green drainage.

How can I prevent ingrown toenails?

Properly trimming your toenails and avoiding too tight or ill-fitting shoes are the two main ways to prevent ingrown toenails. Talk with your podiatrist about how to properly groom your toenails and how to select shoes that fit your feet well.

How are ingrown toenails treated?

Mild ingrown toenails can be treated at home with warm foot soaks, avoiding tight or ill-fitting shoes, elevating the foot, using topical antibiotics, and gently pushing back the overgrown skin from the toenail. More serious cases of ingrown toenails with infection may be treated with oral antibiotics. Resistant or recurrent cases of ingrown toenails may be treated with a minor in-office surgical procedure to remove the nail away from surrounding skin. After the procedure, proper wound care is essential to prevent further infection while healing.

Can I just cut out my ingrown toenails at home?

A common foot health myth is that cutting a “v” in the corner of an ingrown toenail will cause the nail to grow in correctly. The fact is that cutting a “v” may actually cause a more serious and painful ingrown toenail. 

What are possible complications of ingrown toenails?

If left untreated, an ingrown toenail can cause deeper infection in the skin and even the underlying bone, leading to a serious bone infection. Complications from ingrown toenails can be more severe for people with diabetes.

If you have more questions about ingrown toenails or if you’re suffering from an ingrown toenail that’s not getting better, make an appointment with us today. We can help you ease the pain and discomfort of ingrown toenails.