Common Myths About Foot Health

Despite recent advances in the availability of health information, foot health is still somewhat a mystery. There are many old wives’ tales and colloquial advice about feet and footcare that are well-known, but aren’t necessarily based in fact. When it comes to foot health, it’s important to separate fact from fiction, so we’ve rounded up some of the more common myths about foot care and foot health, along with the real facts behind them.

Foot Myth: Going barefoot is good for your feet.

Foot Fact: Walking barefoot can actually be quite harmful to your feet, since it makes your feet more vulnerable to cuts, scrapes, wounds and fungal nail infections. While it’s always best to wear some sort of protective foot covering, if you must go barefoot, be sure to do so only inside the comfort of your home.

Foot Myth: Shoes cause bunions.

Foot Fact: It is true that the shoes with a narrow toe box or lack of support can make bunions worse, however bunions are most often caused by a genetically inherited defect in the structure of the foot. This structural defect makes it more likely that a person will develop a bunion.

Foot Myth: A doctor can’t do anything for a broken toe.

Foot Fact: Any time a broken bone occurs, it’s important to seek medical attention. A doctor can perform diagnostic X-rays to identify the severity of the break, help ensure the toe heals properly and prevent future issues, and even perform surgery on a broken toe. Failure to see a doctor for a broken toe can end up making walking or wearing shoes more difficult or painful.

Foot Myth: Soaking feet in vinegar cures toenail fungus.

Foot Fact: An antifungal medication that can reach the site of the infection is the best way to effectively treat toenail fungus. Vinegar can’t penetrate beneath the nail where the fungus resides to clear up the infection.

Foot Myth: Foot problems are a natural part of the aging process.

Foot Fact: Many people think that foot problems are an inevitable part of growing older, but that’s not always the case. Many times the culprit for foot problems is years of accumulated damage from wearing bad shoes or not addressing problems with foot structure or mechanics.

Foot Myth: If you can move or walk on your foot or ankle, it’s not broken.

Foot Fact: This myth prevents many people from seeking the medical treatment they need for foot or ankle fractures. Depending on the severity of the break and the individual’s pain threshold it could be possible to walk on a foot or ankle even with a broken bone. But it’s never a good idea, since walking with a broken foot bone can cause serious damage! If you suspect your foot or ankle is broken, stay off of it until it’s been diagnosed by a medical professional.

Traditional wisdom isn’t always the cure for what ails you. If you’ve got a problem with your feet or ankles, it’s best to seek professional care to be sure you don’t do any further damage. Don’t hesitate to give us a call for solid advice on all your foot health concerns!

What to Do When A Gout Attack Strikes

Now that the holiday season is in full swing, the added stress and non-gout-friendly foods that are characteristic of the season can increase your chances of having a gout flare. Even if it’s been years since your last flare, you may still be at risk for the painful discomfort that a gout flare can produce. But if you know what to do when a flare occurs, you’ll be in a much better position to manage your symptoms and ease your suffering!

Why Gout Flares Happen

A gout flare occurs when a person with higher than normal levels of uric acid in the body has a buildup of uric acid around a joint – most commonly, the big toe joint. Crystals form in the joint, causing pain, tenderness, and inflammation. Some of the most common factors that can increase uric acid levels and make a gout attack more likely, include:

  • alcohol,
  • high-fat or high-purine foods,
  • stress, and
  • some medications.

Some people with gout have reported a burning, itching, or tingling feeling in a joint a few hours prior to a gout flare-up. There may also be stiffness or soreness in the big toe joint. Soon after, the telltale signs of gout appear – redness, swelling, and severe pain, usually in the big toe. Sometimes, there are no early warning signs of a gout attack. Many gout sufferers are simply woken up in the middle of the night with a painful, inflamed big toe joint.

How to Treat A Gout Flare

There are a number of ways to get relief from a painful gout attack and reduce the amount of time that a gout attack lasts, including:

  • Ditch footwear – Socks and shoes can be unbearably painful during a gout flare, so keep the foot and lower part of the leg bare to reduce added pain.
  • Rest – Avoid activity or walking around during a flare. Lie down and elevate the joint on a pillow or other soft object.
  • Try ice packs / cold compresses – To reduce inflammation and ease pain, apply an ice pack or cold compress to the joint for 20 to 30 minutes several times a day.
  • Avoid high-purine foods and alcohol – High-purine foods (e.g., some seafood, organ meats, and fatty foods) and alcoholic beverages (especially beer) can aggravate a gout attack, so avoid them completely.
  • Drink plenty of water – Drinking enough water can help flush the uric acid crystals out of your body.
  • Try OTC pain meds – non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) can be taken to help alleviate gout pain.
  • Wait it out – Most gout attacks will go away within a few days. Sometimes a little rest and patience is all that’s needed to get relief.
  • Talk with your doctor – If you feel like your gout is not under control, be sure to talk to your healthcare professional about ways to reduce gout attacks. Your doctor may even recommend gout-specific medications to prevent future gout flares.

Are you struggling to keep your gout under control? Don’t let painful gout flares keep you awake at night. Contact us today for an appointment and let us help you get the relief you need!

Runners and Heel Pain

One of the most common physical problems that frequent runners experience is heel pain. With the repeated pounding and pressure on the structure of the foot during regular runs, it’s understandable that many runners will experience foot problems like heel pain at some point in time. When it comes to treating heel pain in runners, there are several factors that must be considered to make sure the right treatment is being used for the underlying problem.

Diagnosing Heel Pain in Runners

First, the source or the type of heel pain being experienced needs to be identified. A qualified podiatrist or foot specialist can perform a thorough physical examination and ask questions that will help target what’s causing your heel pain. During the examination, the following factors might be examined or assessed:

  • Specifics about your running and / or training habits, including how often you run, the intensity, distance and duration of your runs, the types of surfaces you run on, recent changes to your training routine, etc.
  •  Is your heel pain limited to a small area or is it more pervasive?
  •  How intense is the heel pain you experience?
  •  What methods or actions seem to relieve your heel pain?
  •  Have you been treated previously for heel pain?
  •  What kind of footwear do you use when running?
  •  When do you experience heel pain? During a run, after a run, or at any time of day?

While plantar fasciitis is the most common cause for runners’ heel pain, there may be other, less obvious factors contributing to your heel pain, such as Achilles tendonitis, stress fractures and bursitis, or systemic illnesses like gout and rheumatoid arthritis. A complete physical exam will include a review of muscular, neurological and, biomechanical factors to identify where the source of your heel pain is originating from. Once your podiatrist has a complete picture of your running habits and pain profile, providing an accurate diagnosis and treatment plan will be much easier.

Treating Heel Pain in Runners

Developing an effective treatment plan for heel pain involves a two-pronged approach – managing the symptoms of the pain while also addressing the cause of the pain. Most heel pain treatment protocols will involve one or more of the following approaches:

  • Rest – Your doctor may recommend taking a break from running and / or switching to other physical activities that put less stress on the heel
  • Pain medications – Medications can include OTC non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), prescription pain medications, cortisone or steroid injections depending on the severity of the pain
  • Physical therapy – Physical therapy, including cross-training and stretching exercises, may be recommended to ease pain and help correct biomechanical issues
  • Orthotics – Pre-made or custom orthotic inserts can help relieve heel pain caused by structural issues with the foot
  • Footwear – Shoes that provide additional support or cushion to the heel when running may also be recommended

Are you an avid runner struggling with occasional or recurring heel pain? Don’t suffer through it! Make an appointment with us today for a thorough assessment and customized treatment plan for your heel pain.