Family Footcare offers general podiatry treatment for every type of foot ailment.
Listed below are just a few of the conditions we treat.
- ANKLE SPRAINS
- ATHLETES FEET
- CORNS & CALLUSES
- FLAT FEET
- HEEL PAIN
- INGROWN NAILS
Terminology and Conditions
Ankle sprains are caused by an unnatural twisting or force on the ankle bones of the foot, which may result in excessive stretching or tearing of one or more ligaments on the outside of the ankle. The severity of the sprain can impact the degree of damage as well as the type and duration of treatment. If not properly treated, ankle sprains may develop into long-term problems.
Primary symptoms of ankle sprains are pain following a twist or injury, swelling, and bruising.
Treatment includes resting and elevating the ankle and applying ice to reduce swelling. Compressive bandages also may be used to immobilize and support the injury during healing. Serious ankle sprains, particularly among competitive athletes, may require surgery to repair and tighten the damaged ligaments.
To prevent ankle sprains, try to maintain strength, balance, and flexibility in the foot and ankle through exercising, stretching, and wearing well-fitted shoes.
A chronic infection caused by various types of fungus, Athlete’s foot is often spread in places where people go barefoot such as public showers or swimming pools. The condition ranges from mild scaling and itching to painful inflammation and blisters. It usually starts between the toes or on the arch and may spread to the bottom and sides of the foot.
Depending on the type of infection you have, various kinds of medication may be used in treating your fungal problem. Successful treatment usually involves a combination of medication and self-care.
If your condition is not serious, over-the-counter and prescription powders, lotions, or ointments can often help treat scaling, itching, and inflammation. Consult us before taking any medication. Foot soaks may help dry excessive perspiration, but you should contact our office first. If your Athlete’s foot does not improve, we may prescribe stronger medication.
A bunion is a bone deformity caused by an enlargement of the joint at the base and side of the big toe (metatarsophalangeal joint). Bunions form when the toe moves out of place. The enlargement and its protuberance cause friction and pressure as they rub against footwear. Over time, the movement of the big toe angles in toward the other toes, sometimes overlapping other toes (known as Hallux Valgus). The growing enlargement or protuberance then causes more irritation or inflammation. In some cases, the big toe moves toward the second toe and rotates or twists, which is known as Hallus Abducto Valgus. Bunions can also lead to other toe deformities, such as hammertoe.
Many people with bunions suffer from discomfort and pain from the constant irritation, rubbing, and friction of the enlargement against shoes. The skin over the toe becomes red and tender. Because this joint flexes with every step, the bigger the bunion gets, the more it hurts to walk. Over time, bursitis or arthritis may set in, the skin on the bottom of the foot may become thicker, and everyday walking may become difficult—all contributing to chronic pain.
Wearing shoes that are too tight is the leading cause of bunions. Bunions are not hereditary, but they do tend to run in families, usually because of a faulty foot structure. Foot injuries, neuromuscular problems, flat feet, and pronated feet can contribute to their formation. It is estimated that bunions occur in 33 percent of the population in Western countries.
Because they are bone deformities, bunions do not resolve by themselves. The goal for bunion treatment is twofold: first, to relieve the pressure and pain caused by irritations, and second to stop any progressive growth of the enlargement. Commonly used methods for reducing pressure and pain caused by bunions include:
- Protective padding, often made from felt material, to eliminate the friction against shoes and help alleviate inflammation and skin problems.
- Removal of corns and calluses on the foot.
- Changing to carefully fitted footwear designed to accommodate the bunion and not contribute toward its growth.
- Orthotic devices—both over-the-counter and custom made—to help stabilize the joint and place the foot in the correct position for walking and standing.
- Exercises to maintain joint mobility and prevent stiffness or arthritis.
- Splints for nighttime wear to help the toes and joint align properly. This is often recommended for adolescents with bunions, because their bone development may still be adaptable.
- Surgical Treatment
Depending on the size of the enlargement, misalignment of the toe, and pain experienced, conservative treatments may not be adequate to prevent progressive damage from bunions. In these cases, bunion surgery, known as a bunionectomy, may be advised to remove the bunion and realign the toe.
Corns & Calluses
Corns and calluses are protective layers of compacted, dead skin cells. They are caused by repeated friction from skin rubbing against bony areas or against an irregularity in a shoe. Corns ordinarily form on the toes and calluses on the soles of the feet. The friction and pressure can burn or otherwise be painful and may be relieved by moleskin or padding on the affected areas.
Never cut corns or calluses with any instrument, and never apply home remedies, except under a podiatrist’s instructions.
Diabetes and Your Feet
Diabetes is a lifelong chronic disease that is caused by high levels of sugar in the blood. It can also decrease your body’s ability to fight off infections, which is especially harmful in your feet. When diabetes is not properly controlled, damage can occur to the organs and impairment of the immune system is also likely to occur.
With damage to your nervous system, you may not be able to feel your feet properly. Normal sweat secretion and oil production that lubricates the skin of the foot is impaired, which can lead to an abnormal pressure on the skin, bones, and joints of the foot during walking and other activities. This can even lead to the breakdown of the skin of the foot, which often causes sores to develop. If you have diabetes, it is important to prevent foot problems before they occur, recognize problems early, and seek the right treatment when a problem does happen.
When it comes to your feet, there are several risk factors that can increase your chances of developing foot problems and diabetic infections in the legs and feet. First of all, poorly fitting shoes are one of the biggest culprits of diabetic foot complications. If you have red spots, sore spots, blisters, corns, calluses, or consistent pain associated with wearing shoes, new proper fitted shoes must be obtained immediately. Additionally, if you have common foot abnormalities such as flat feet, bunions, or hammertoes, prescription shoes or orthotics from your podiatrist may be necessary to further protect your feet from other damage.
People who have long-standing or poorly controlled diabetes are also at risk for having damage to the nerves in their feet, which is known in the medical community as peripheral neuropathy. If you have nerve damage, you may not be able to feel your feet normally and you may also be unable to sense the position of your feet and toes while walking and balancing, which can cause even more harm to your feet.
Doctors Mader and DeJesus have trained with Dr. A. Lee Dellon from Johns Hopkins, on peripheral nerve decompression techniques for diabetic neuropathy and were one of the first surgeons performing this surgery in Connecticut.
Normal nerves allow people to sense if their shoes are too tight or if their shoes are rubbing on the feet too much. With diabetes, you may not be able to properly sense minor injuries, such as cuts, scrapes and blisters-all signs of abnormal wear, tear, and foot strain. The following can also compromise the health of your feet:
- Poor circulation
- Trauma to the foot
Diabetes can be extremely dangerous to your feet, so take precautions now. You can avoid serious problems such as losing a toe, foot, or leg by following proper prevention techniques offered by your podiatrist. Remember, prevention is the key to saving your feet and eliminating pain.
Flat feet are a common condition of the foot structure. In infants and toddlers, prior to walking, the longitudinal arch is not developed, and flat feet are normal. Most feet are flexible and an arch appears when children begin standing on their toes. The arch continues to develop throughout childhood, and by adulthood most people have developed normal arches.
Flat feet are generally associated with pronation, a leaning inward of the ankle bones toward the center line. Shoes of children who pronate, when placed side by side, will lean toward each other (after they have been worn long enough for the foot position to remodel their shape).
Many people with flat feet do not experience pain or other problems. When pain in the foot, ankle, or lower leg does occur, especially in children, the feet should be evaluated.
Painful progressive flatfoot, otherwise known as tibialis posterior tendonitis or adult-acquired flatfoot, refers to inflammation of the tendon of the tibialis posterior. This condition arises when the tendon becomes inflamed, stretched, or torn. Left untreated, it may lead to severe disability and chronic pain. People are predisposed to tibialis posterior tendonitis if they have flat feet or an abnormal attachment of the tendon to the bones in the midfoot.
Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications, icing, physical therapy, supportive taping, bracing, and orthotics are common treatments for painful progressive flatfoot. Note: Please consult your physician before taking any medications. In some cases, a surgery may need to be performed to repair a torn or damaged tendon and restore normal function. In the most severe cases, surgery on the midfoot bones may be necessary to treat the associated flatfoot condition.
Stress fractures are very small, fine breaks in a bone. They most often occur in the bones of the lower legs and feet. Stress fractures are caused by repeated shock to the bone. They are most common with high-impact sports, such as basketball, tennis, and running. Poorly cushioned shoes, hard surfaces, and a sudden increase in exercise time or intensity can contribute.
Your doctor will ask you questions about your activities and your health history. Be sure to tell your doctor about any changes to your exercise or training routine, such as a change in playing surface. Stress fractures don’t always show up on X-rays, so your doctor may order bone scans, and/or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).
Rest is the best way to treat a stress fracture. If the leg or foot is not rested, the fracture will likely become worse and harder to heal. To ensure proper healing:
- Replace high-impact activities with low impact ones, such as swimming or cycling, until the fracture has healed. This takes about six to eight weeks.
- Use ice, heat, and over-the-counter pain relievers as directed by your doctor.
- Use crutches as directed by your doctor if walking is painful.
- Wear a special walking cast or shoe if your doctor recommends. These can improve healing of certain types of fractures.
- Ease back into activity when your doctor gives you the okay.
To help prevent stress fractures:
- Ease into new sports activity. If you run, don’t start at five miles a day. Instead, start with one mile and gradually increase your miles.
- Alternate your activities. Work low-impact activities into your routine.
- If you’re a woman, be sure to get enough calcium and vitamin D. Ask your doctor about supplements.
- Be sure your shoes are right for the activity you’re doing. Don’t wear shoes that are worn out.
- Stop an activity if you have pain or swelling. Rest until the pain goes away.
A hammertoe is a deformity which can involve the second, third, fourth and fifth toes. In this condition, the toe is bent at the middle joint, causing it to resemble a hammer. Left untreated, hammertoes can become inflexible and require surgery. People with hammertoe may have corns or calluses on the top of the middle joint of the toe or on the tip of the toe. They may also feel pain in their toes or feet and have difficulty finding comfortable shoes.
Causes of hammertoe include plantar plate tears, improperly fitting shoes and muscle imbalance.
Treatment for the condition typically involves wearing shoes with soft, roomy toe boxes and toe exercises to stretch and strengthen the muscles. Commercially available straps, cushions, or non-medicated corn pads may also relieve symptoms. In some cases, hammertoe surgery may be recommended to correct the deformity.
Plantar fasciitis is the term commonly used to refer to heel and arch pain traced to an inflammation on the bottom of the foot. More specifically, plantar fasciitis is an inflammation of the connective tissue, called plantar fascia, that stretches from the base of the toes, across the arch of the foot, to the point at which it inserts into the heel bone. Over pronation is the most common cause of plantar fasciitis. As the foot rolls inward excessively when walking, it flattens the foot, lengthens the arch, and puts added tension on the plantar fascia. Over time, this causes inflammation.
Also known as heel spur syndrome, the condition is often successfully treated with conservative measures, such as the use of anti-inflammatory medications, ice packs, stretching exercises, orthotic devices, and physical therapy. Note: Please consult your physician before taking any medications. In persistent cases, Extracorporeal Shock Wave Treatment (ESWT) and surgery may be used to treat the heel pain.
Ingrown toenails occur when the corners or sides of the nail dig painfully into the skin. Ingrown toenails are usually caused by improper nail trimming, but can also result from shoe pressure, injury, fungus infection, heredity, and poor foot structure. Women are more likely to have ingrown toenails than men.
The problem can be prevented by trimming toenails straight across, selecting proper shoe styles and sizes, and responding to foot pain in a timely manner. Chronic conditions may require permanent removal of the ingrown portion. This is done with a painless, in-office procedure.
A neuroma (Morton’s neuroma) is a condition that arises from irritation of a nerve resulting in inflammation of the nerve sheath, or covering, and the possible formation of scar tissue around the nerve. It is a benign condition that occurs most commonly in the small nerve that runs between the metatarsal bones in the ball of the foot and into the third and fourth toes.
Irritation to the nerve can result from improper shoes (too tight, high heels), injury or a mechanical abnormality of the foot. Depending on the severity, treatments may include orthotics (shoe inserts), cortisone injections, and, in extreme cases, surgical release of the nerve entrapment or removal of the growth.
Tendonitis (also called tendinitis) is an inflammation or irritation of a tendon, a thick cord that attaches bone to muscle. Tendonitis is most often caused by repetitive, minor impact on the affected area, or from a sudden more serious injury. Anyone can get tendonitis, but it is more common in adults, especially those over 40 years of age. As tendons age they tolerate less stress, are less elastic, and are easier to tear.
Treatments include avoiding activities that aggravate the problem, resting the injured area, icing the area or taking over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications or using topical anti-inflammatory gels. Depending on the severity, treatments may include cortisone injections or stem cell injections.