Wednesday, 23 December 2015

Planter Fasciitis: An overview

Plantar fasciitis is a common cause for heel pain in middle aged individuals. Plantar fascia, which is a belt of tissue connecting the toes and heel bone is built to support the foot’s arch. If you put too much pressure on your ligament, it gets swollen, weak and irritated (inflamed) leading to pain. The problem is most common among older adults. But it may also occur in soldiers or athletes.

How can you find out if you are suffering from Plantar Fasciitis?

Cases related to plantar fasciitis are diagnosed by a health care practitioner based on a physical exam and your symptoms. Physical exam may include pressing the bottom of your feet and looking for any inflammation from the heel to the toes. The physician may also suggest an X-ray to make sure there is no fracture.

What are the treatments?

Most doctors agree that early treatment for the problem should be conservative. Your doctor will advise on the following options:

1. A Heel Pad

Heel pads or custom-made orthotics are used for cushioning the painful heel if you spend too much time on foot especially on hard surfaces.

2. Stretching

Stretching exercises that are performed at least four times a day can assist in elongating the ligaments and heel cord on the bottom of your foot.

3. Ice

Ice packs and ice blocks may be advised to massage the plantar fascia.

4. Pain Relievers

Over-the-counter anti-inflammatory drugs are often helpful in reducing the pain and inflammation. If you’re allergic to such drugs, ask a health care provider for alternatives.

5. Shock Wave Therapy

In case your symptoms persist for more than six months, you may be required to undergo shock therapy. This therapy does not involve incisions, rather it makes use of high intensity shock waves for stimulating healing.

6. Surgery:

One of the most common surgeries for plantar fasciitis is plantar fascia release. It involves making an incision to release a part of the plantar fascia from the bone.

How can I prevent Plantar Fasciitis?

Although there are no guaranteed ways of preventing plantar fasciitis, these tips are helpful:


  • Make sure your weight is under control.
  • Wear supportive, comfortable shoes.
  • Be careful when intensifying or even starting an exercise program.

Plantar fasciitis normally occurs because of wear and tear or injuries that have occurred over a period of time. With proper treatment, you will start feeling the difference within a couple of weeks. However, it will take time for the strain and pain to completely go away. It will take some months to even a year. Stick to your treatment. In case you don't, you may suffer from constant pain when you walk or stand. The earlier you start the treatment, the sooner your problem will start to go away.

Wednesday, 25 November 2015

How to prevent nail problems and injuries

Minor toenail and fingernail problems are extremely common. At some point of time, almost everyone has suffered from ripping or smashing of the nail, leaving blood underneath the tips. Such injuries can be painful but are normally not serious. However, there are a lot of ways to prevent nail problems and injuries at home by following the advice offered below.

Preventing common nail problems

Here are a few habits you must inculcate in your daily routine to keep your nails healthy:

  1. Massage hand cream into your cuticles and nails a couple of times a day.
  2. Wear protective gloves when working in the garden and during the winter season.
  3. Wear disposable plastic gloves when using detergents and similar chemicals.
  4. Trim your fingernails on a weekly basis, right after bathing.
  5. Trim your toenails on a monthly basis
  6. If you suffer from a chronic disease, such as peripheral arterial disease, diabetes, or problems related to the immune system, discuss the best ways to trim your toenails with your doctor.
  7. Be extremely careful when trimming the nails of a baby.
  8. Never pick or bite your nails.
Preventing fungal nail infection

  1. Always keep your feet dry and clean. Clean, dry feet are have a very small chance of becoming infected. It is important to apply powder to the feet if needed.
  2. Wear dry, clean socks. If you have a problem with sweat, change your socks more frequently in a day.
  3. Avoid wearing tight shoes. Wear roomy shoes that help with air circulation around the feet.
  4. Wear shower shoes or shower sandals when using public spas, pools, and showers.
Preventing artificial nail problems

  1. You must always start by testing your skin’s reaction to the artificial nail by applying just one artificial nail first. Wait for at least three days to see redness, pain, itching, or rash under the nail or around it.
  2. Do not use artificial nails if the skin surrounding the nail or the skin around it looks infected or irritated.
  3. In case the artificial nail separates from the nail bed, make sure you dip your fingernails inside rubbing alcohol for fifteen seconds before attaching the nail again. This will help in cleaning the space in between the nails.
  4. Avoid wearing artificial nails for too long at a stretch. Give your fingertips a month of rest before applying the artificial nails again.
These small steps will go a long way in keeping the health of your toe and finger nails intact. Make sure you keep these tips in mind and follow them to ensure beautiful and healthy finger nails for the rest of your life. However, in case you see any redness, red streaks, pus, or any other odd symptom make sure you contact your doctor immediately.

Thursday, 29 October 2015

Plantar Fasciitis: exercises to help sooth heel pain

You perhaps never thought much about your heel bone until the pain jolted you. A ligament that connects the front of your foot to your heel, plantar fascia can be a problem area for a lot of people. According to experts, heel pain has been affecting more than 50% of Americans, with the most common cause being plantar fasciitis. Physical exertion such as running, aerobics, or even weight gain can tear or damage the plantar fascia, leading to pain and inflammation.

Apart from runners, plantar fasciitis is also very common in pregnant women, as the extra weight can cause inflammation. If you do suffer from plantar fascia, do not be disheartened. There are several steps you can take to ease out the pain.

Stretching:

Taut muscles in your calves and feet tend to aggravate plantar fasciitis. Prevent or soothe the pain with some of these simple stretches advised by experts.

Stretch the calve muscles:

  1. Stand at an arm’s length from the wall.
  2. Put your right foot at the back of your left.
  3. Gently and slowly, bend the left leg forward while keeping the right leg completely straight.
  4. Hold your position for 15 to 30 seconds and then release.
  5. Perform this stretch exercise thrice.
  6. Repeat the same exercise by reversing the position of your legs.
Stretching the plantar fascia:

  1. While sitting on a chair, place a frozen water bottle under your foot and roll it back and forth. Perform this maneuver for a minute and then shift to the other foot.
  2. Cross over your legs to perform a big toe stretch. Hold your big toe and pull it towards you. Hold the position for 15 to 30 seconds. Perform this exercise thrice, then repeat the same exercise by reversing the position of your foot.
  3. For your third exercise, make an exercise strap by folding your towel lengthwise. Once done, put the folded towel under both your feet. Hold the towel ends with both hands, and pull the top of your feet towards you. Hold the position for 15 to 30 seconds, and release. Perform this maneuver thrice.
Not only will these stretches help you in getting rid of any heel pain, but doing them regularly will also prevent plantar fasciitis.

Some common precautions and tips

Take it easy

You will have to avoid running till the inflammation in your heels calms down. Take at least two weeks off and make sure you ice the area and perform the stretches.

Start slowly

Once ice and rest have healed your heel pain, you can start tiny runs. However, make sure you run smaller distance and slowly. Stop after every few minutes to stretch. Start lengthening the runs slowly.

While regular stretching and rest can help mend plantar fasciitis, make sure you visit your doctor regularly. It is important to show your progress to an expert to know you’re headed in the right direction.

Wednesday, 23 September 2015

Include Foot Care in Your Exercise Regime

Exercise is necessary. Whether your workout regime is the stringent gym kind, or the morning jog at the nearby park, it becomes a way of life for you. You are rarely comfortable on the days you miss the routine. After all, you have done it for years and intend to continue doing so. There is no match to that fresh feeling that you get after a good workout. However, your feet may not always agree with you. They may need attention, and if you don’t give it to them, they may protest in any of the following ways: swelling, painful corns, tendonitis or deep vein thrombosis.

Exercise and Your Feet

Feet usually start their protest by creating a feeling of tightness around the ankles, or below. Next, you may feel pain during or after exercising. This means there is inadequate blood circulation. However small the problem may be, understanding and arresting it in time goes a long way and causes almost nil suffering. According to podiatrist Dominic Catanese, DPM, director of the Podiatry Service at Montefiore Medical Center in New York, “"The small foot problems that probably don't make much of difference at other times can suddenly become a very big deal when you begin putting significant stress on your feet, as you do when you're starting an exercise program.”

So what needs to be done?

First and foremost, understand your pain or discomfort. When your feet ache after a long day at work, you probably shrug the pain off thinking it is due to wearing high heels. But that may not be so. There could be a small fracture that is causing the pain. It may also be the warning signs of osteoporosis, which weakens the bones.

Check the color of the toes. If you see white skin, do not shrug it off as nothing serious. This whiteness may turn blue or red and result in Raynaud’s disease.

Care for Exercising Feet

1. Wear the right footwear: Choose footwear that fits well and makes your feet feel comfortable. Do not go for those on discount, or those piles that boast low-priced trainers. Footwear with a solid construction and a toe bed that is flexible is the best choice. Choosing a "cross trainer" shoe is the best for all-rounders.

2. Wear the right socks: Socks are known to prevent friction, but they can also cause friction! This  friction will lead to irritation, and the irritation to redness and sores. It is best to wear socks that have a little cushioning on the sole. These days, socks made from fabric that keeps moisture at bay are available. These could be the best option for people who have a tendency to sweat.

3. Arch support is important: If your footwear does not have arch-support, buy an insert that will provide support from the toe to the heel. Protecting the arch is important, as it is not uncommon for the arch to cave in and collapse.

Wednesday, 26 August 2015

Do not Ignore Swollen Foot, It could be DVT

We all know that blood circulation is important, but we rarely realize how dangerous improper circulation could be. Proper blood circulation means having the right amount of blood flow to make the heart beat, the hands and legs move and the brain to function. The movement of blood supplies oxygen to the brain and other organs of the body. It also promotes healthier skin and helps cell growth. Hence, poor circulation gives rise to several problems. The feet are known to be a target of poor blood circulation. One of the problems that results from poor blood circulation in the feet is Deep Vein Thrombosis or DVT.

What is DVT?

Deep Vein Thrombosis is a condition that results from clotting in the feet. It means having a clot of blood in a deep vein and occurs usually in the thigh or calf. This clotting usually occurs in the lower leg. People who lead a sedentary lifestyle are victims of this condition.  When there is poor circulation, the blood flow to the vein in the legs is restricted. This restriction could be due to hardening of the peripheral arteries, which are vessels that take the blood from the heart to other parts of the body.  DVT can prove to be dangerous if part of the clot breaks and travels into the bloodstream. This movement may lead to the clot getting stuck and blocking the blood flow to any vital organ, say the lung or the brain.

Symptoms of DVT

Unfortunately, people with DVT receive no or very little warning signs. However, here are some signs connected with DVT. Fatigue or cramps in the feet are early symptoms of DVT. The feet may be swollen, ache or generally feel tired. Cramps may occur when there is extended immobility, such as sitting for a long period of time or while sleeping. There could be changes in the color of the skin around the lower legs. Your feet may be painful or feel tender while walking or standing. The skin may feel warm and the veins may be visible.

What to do when there are warning signs:

When any of these signs occur, take medical help. Your doctor will check if you have DVT with a simple ultrasound. This will reveal if there is enough blood flow and reveal the presence of a clot. An MRI and venography are further tests that may be suggested by the doctor.

Treatment and Prevention

Medication usually includes anticoagulants. Sometimes clot busters such as thrombolytics are administered by a doctor, depending on the need. However, there are some simple precautions that can help relieve the pain and avoid clotting. Wearing compression stockings will help in the circulation. These socks apply gentle pressure on the legs and this keeps the blood moving.  Resting your feet off the floor helps a lot as it makes the blood flow easier and reduces the swelling. Regular exercise is the best way to battle with DVT. Do workouts that apply pressure on the muscles. This promotes blood flow, which avoids the formation of clots. When your travel involves sitting for long period, make sure to stretch every few minutes. Clenching and releasing the muscles in the calves and thighs helps a lot.

Thursday, 23 July 2015

All that You Need to Know about Jogger’s Foot

Jogger’s foot is the common name given to a medical condition called medial plantar neuropraxia or entrapment of the medial plantar nerve. This is a condition where inflammation takes place in the medial plantar nerve present in the plantar fascia, the thick connective tissue found on the underside of the foot. Medial plantar nerve entrapment is usually seen in people who run long distances, athletes who participate in sports that involve a lot of running. This condition is also prevalent among some ballet dancers. 

Symptoms

The most common symptom of this condition is numbness in the foot. There could also be tingling, or burning on the area around the foot arch and around the big toe. These sensations may also be under the second toe. Pain is another common symptom, and is most commonly felt in the arch of the foot. This pain may increase while the person is running or immediately after completing a run. These symptoms are mostly seen in the morning and rarely while running. People with jogger’s foot may also complain of a feeling that the ankle is falling apart.

Causes

When the pressure on the medial plantar nerve is increased, it results in medial plantar nerve entrapment. The pressure may come from the plantar tissue, the muscles or the bones of the foot. When this pressure falls on the nerve, there is pain felt. The pressure may also be due to an inflammation that has developed in the sole of the foot. People with flat feet can also develop the jogger’s foot.

Prevention

Long distance runners must wear correct shoes. A person with flat feet will need a different kind of footwear compared to a person with normal, arched feet. Make it a habit to warm up well before commencing your athletic activities. Wearing properly padded shoes and orthotics is a must. There are a range of exercises that can help people who are rehabilitating from the jogger’s foot.

Recommended Treatment

The first and foremost requirement for a person with the jogger’s foot is rest. Running or jogging needs to be stopped completely during the period assigned for healing. Using heel raises and heel arch supports can help reduce the pain. Without surgery, it usually takes a year to recover from the jogger’s foot. However, if the symptoms prevail beyond this time, surgical intervention may be necessary. Post surgery, the patient will have to rest for at least six weeks.

Medication

Pain can be managed by nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, such as ibrufen. Often, acetaminophen is prescribed. After surgery, the doctors decide on the line of medications that would be required.

Monday, 29 June 2015

Simple Solutions to Common Walking Pains

It is common knowledge that walking is the safest and easiest form of exercise. According to a Fort Collins physical therapist Teresa Schuemann, "Walkers can overwork the area when pounding the pavement, especially when you wear hard shoes on concrete, because there's very little give as the foot lands. Is this news to you? 


According to reports, there are about 250,000 walkers who stop their routine as a result of a walking-induced pain. Most commonly, this is due to wearing improper footwear while walking. Another reason could be an old exercise injury that has got aggravated while walking. Walkers, if they want to stick to their exercise routine, need to make sure that they pay attention to any pain they might feel or walking injury that may have occurred earlier. Here are some common walking pains that may cause hindrance in your fitness regime. Being able to relate to what kind of pain there is and information on their prevention and care, can help you keep away from serious problems.

Athlete’s Foot

This is among the better known foot maladies. Athlete’s foot is a skin condition caused by fungus. You may feel that the area between the toes itches, stings and sometime burns. These sensations may sometime be on the soles of the feet. There may be blisters that itch, cracks and peels on the feet. Do not walk barefoot. Ensure your feet are always dry, change your socks often and let your shoes dry if you perspire a lot. Remember, fungus needs warmth to grow and a moist environment to incubate. Apply powder or corn starch on the inside your shoes and socks. This helps to keep the fungus away. Minor cases can usually be cured with a visit to the local drugstore or an over-the-counter powder, spray, cream or gel. If the itching is severe, you may require a prescription treatment.

Hammertoe

This condition occurs when the joints of the middle and little toes contract or bend from their original position. When the pressure on the toes increases, abnormal bending takes place. This pressure could be due to wearing shoes that cause muscle/tendon imbalance. The imbalance initially leads to bending of the toe and then causes changes in the structure of the toe. Some common symptoms of hammertoe are irritation, pain, and the formation of corns and calluses.  Changing the type of footwear, avoiding short shoes, and avoiding footwear with high and pointed heels are some ways to prevent hammertoe. You could choose shoes that are comfortable, and have a roomy toe box. Wearing shoes with that have less than two inch heels will also be helpful.  

Nail In-growth

This is a condition that is usually found on the big toe. In-growth happens when the pressure from the growth of the nail edge falls into the skin of the toe. Inflammation is caused when the edge of the nail breaks the skin.  Initially, it creates minor discomfort, but slowly redness, pain, and swelling take place. Improper trimming of the toenail, hereditary aspects, and improper shoes are the main causes of an ingrown toenail. At first the infection may be on the nail border, but it can progress to cellulites, a deeper soft-tissue infection. The next stage would be osteomyelitis, a bone infection. Trimming the toenail straight across the top and not allowing it to dig into the corners is the best way to prevent in-growth.

These common problems can be addressed with a bit of care and awareness. Prevention is the best way to avoid walking pains and their resulting problems.

Monday, 25 May 2015

High Heels are Killers

Every woman likes to wear high heels. Research says that at least 31% women wear high heels to work, while percentages vary among those who wear them while dancing and on occasions. Yes, most women feel that the perfect, pointy pair of heels, like the 4-inch ones can make any outfit stylish. They feel that some magic takes place when they step into those towering heels and their self-confidence improves. And if the escort is tall, high heels become a must.  


However, this style that we can do anything for comes with a great deal of suffering too. According to a study conducted by a team of orthopedic specialists, high heels damage the ankle and foot. They are bad for health and comfort. Despite this, there is nothing that stops us from wearing them, some of us do so occasionally, some daily. Foot fashion it is! We make sacrifices for foot fashion, have we ever thought about the price we pay for this sacrifice? 

Posture 

When we wear high heels, our posture is the first to get affected. Heels push forward the center of the mass in the body. This takes the hips and the spine out from their alignment. On the other hand, when we wear flat footwear, the hips, neck and spine all perfectly aligned. 

Knee 

When we wear heels, our posture changes. This change affects the knees. The alteration in the posture, especially when we walk, places a lot of force on the inside portion of the knees. It is said that the force on the knee joints increases about 26% when we wear high heels. 

Calf

The calf muscles have to adjust to accommodate the change in posture and the pressure on the knee joints. This adjustment is in the form of contraction. The muscles need to contract and tighten to allow you to keep your balance. After repeated use of high heels, the calves may start paining due to this pressure. 

Foot

Footwear with high heels usually comes with narrow toe boxes to make the feet look slim and stylish. This combination could create some thickening in the tissue that is around the nerve between the third and the fourth toe. This thickening is called Morton’s Neuroma, which can lead to numbness and pain in the toes.

Ankle

The ankles are the most risky part of the foot when you wear high heels. They have to adjust themselves to provide the required balance. This makes them highly prone to injuries. With a little loss in the balance the ankle gets affected immediately. Broken ankle, twisted ankle, sprain is not uncommon among those who wear high heels.

So, for your feet’s sake, switch to flat footwear and you will see the difference!

Monday, 20 April 2015

Children’s Feet Need Special Care Too

Have you ever noticed that children rarely complain about their feet? They may complain about pain in their shins, as their bones stretch while they grow. But, rarely do we hear them complaining about their feet. This is because children’s feet are highly flexible. This makes them not too sensitive and so they do not feel pain in the areas of pressure or friction as adults do.


This fact makes it all the more important to look after children’s feet as much as it is important and recommended for adults. Good maintenance of a child’s feet will translate into good health, as well as better and safer mobility throughout their life. Here is some practical advice and information on care for the complex network of 26 bones, 19 muscles and numerous tendons, and the problems that lurk under them. 

Complex Structure, Complete Care 

The feet cannot be considered as an isolated part of your body. Each bone is connected and this connection is spread across all parts of the body. In children, especially newborns, the feet comprise of relatively soft and flexible cartilage. This cartilage slowly converts into bone. The period when this development takes place is extremely important as there is the constant risk from injury and deformity. Ill-fitting footwear should be avoided and a visit to the podiatrist is recommended. 
  
Right Measurement 

Children’s feet should be measured for length and width. Ensure you have bought the socks and the shoes of the right size. Checking the shoes thoroughly, inside and out, is a good habit to develop. This will alert you of any unusual wear and tear. These normally occur on the back portion of the heel or between the back and the outside of the shoe. There could also be a bulge on the upper heel area which may not be visible to the eye.

Different Shoes Each Day 

Try not to make your child wear the same shoes every day. Alternate between shoes, so that they dry out completely, both inside and on the outside. A pair of well-fitted lacing trainers could be the best shoe for your child’s feet. Washing the feet well, drying between the toes, and dusting talcum powder is highly recommended.

Seek Professional Help Early 

Children usually have sweaty feet. However, if their feet are smelly, there is something wrong. It could indicate poor hygiene, which is the root cause of most foot problems. Keeping the nails clipped is a good habit. Remember not to cut down the side of nails or make them too short. Regular inspection and trimming is essential for foot care. It is best to cut on the line of the nail at the tip of the toe. Let the corner of the nails clear the fleshy part of the toe.