DECEMBER ARTICLES 2015
Toenail fungus is a frustrating problem that affects many people. It can be persistent and hard to get rid of. As many different types of fungi are present throughout the environment, it is very easy to contract toenail fungus.
The feet are especially susceptible to toenail fungus because shoes and socks create the ideal dark and moist environment that fungal infections thrive in. While fungal infections of the nail plate are quite common, fungi can be harmful once they have invaded past the skin and more serious infections can spread beyond the feet.
Signs of toenail fungus include a thickened nail that has become yellow or brown in color, a foul smell, and most debris beneath the nail. The toe may become painful due to the pressure of a thicker nail or the buildup of debris.
Treatment for toenail fungus is most effective during the early stages of an infection. If there is an accumulation of debris beneath the nail plate, an ingrown nail or a more serious infection can occur. While each treatment varies between patients, your podiatrist may prescribe you oral medications, topical liquids and creams, or laser therapy. To determine the best treatment process for you, be sure to visit your podiatrist at the first signs of toenail fungus.
Choosing the Right Running Shoe for Your Foot Type
Running may seem like a simple thing to do, but in reality it is a complex movement that puts stress on the ligaments, bones, and joints of the body. Because of this, selecting the correct running shoe is important for increasing performance and avoiding risk of injury. Running shoes should be selected based on your foot type. Considerations such as trail versus road shoes are important, but your foot type dictates the degree of cushioning, stability and motion control you require. The most accurate way to learn your foot type is to visit a local shop that specializes in running shoes. Professionals there can measure your arch type, stride and gait and let you know your shoe needs for future reference.
The design of running shoes is created around the idea of pronation. Pronation is the rolling of your ankle from outside to inside when your foot strikes the ground, which is natural. If you run properly you strike the ground on the outside of your heel and roll in the direction of your big toe before pushing off once more. Pronation is beneficial because it assists the lower half of your body in absorbing shock and storing energy. Those considered neutral runners pronate correctly and do not need running shoes that help correct their form. Neutral runners can choose from a wide variety of shoes, including barefoot or minimal types. However, those who have arch problems or who adopt an incorrect form while running may experience too much or too little pronation and require running shoes that offer additional support.
Those who overpronate experience an over-abundance of ankle rolling. Even while standing, those who severely overpronate display ankles that are angled inward. It is not uncommon for them to have flat feet or bowed legs as well. The tendency to overpronate may cause many injuries. Areas that tend to become injured are the knees, ankles, and Achilles tendon. If you find that you have a tendency to overpronate, you should look at shoes that provide extra stability and motion-control. Motion-control shoes are straight and firm; shoes of this type do not curve at the tip. The restricted flexibility along the middle of the shoe prohibits the foot from rolling too far inward as your foot strikes.
A less common problem is underpronation. Underpronation, also called supination, is when the feet are unable to roll inward during landing. Those who underpronate have feet that lack flexibility and high arches. This prevents any kind of shock absorption, even though it does place less rotational stress on ankles and knees. This added force can cause fractures, ligament tears, and muscle strains because the legs are trying to compensate for the impact. Those who underpronate need shoes with more cushioning and flexibility. If you have a tendency to underpronate, selecting stability or motion-control shoes may cause you more problems by continuing to prevent pronation.
All About Hallux Limitus
Hallux limitus is a medical condition which means “stiff toe”. It is actually an arthritic condition that limits movement of the big toe. The pain is usually located at the area where your large toe and foot meet. The condition is not serious, but should be treated since it can lead to hallux rigidus, in which motion of the big toe is extremely limited.
The symptoms of hallux limitus are easy to overlook. Anyone can feel a toe pain and believe that it is nothing serious. However, some of the things you will feel and see are sharp pain, development of bone growths, feelings of tightness around the joint, difficulties wearing shoes, inflammation of the joint, and even the change in the way you walk. If you experience these symptoms, you should see a podiatrist while the condition is still in the early stages.
This condition may be a result of genetics, or of simply wearing out your feet. In the first case, people can inherit hallux limitus from their parents, or even be born with a predisposition to arthritis. Injury or overuse can cause trauma to the joint which can lead to extra bone growth and the wearing a way of cartilage. These situations will lead to arthritis and thus pain and limited motion in the toe. In some cases, certain systemic diseases such as lupus or gout can cause hallux limitus.
There are different methods for diagnosis, but an x-ray is generally performed along with a test to determine the big toe's range of motion.
A limited number of treatments are available; in mild cases lifestyle and physical therapy are recommended, along with oral anti-inflammatory medications. The R.I.C.E. method stands for rest, ice, compression and elevation, and it is immensely helpful in this case. With hallux limitus it is crucial not to overuse the toe, and to be careful when it comes to exercise and other physical activities. Too much activity can destroy the cartilage that remains in the toe joint, making the toe even stiffer.
However, if the patient does not show any improvement, surgery is the only answer. The most common surgeries are arthrodesis, to fuse the joint, and cheilectomy, in which the joint is cleaned of scar tissue so the toe can move more easily. Many patients who receive surgery are able to go back to the activities they enjoy a couple of months after the operation.
How Obesity Affects Your Feet
Maybe you have gained a few extra pounds over the past couple of years. It comes on slowly and you are not always aware of it until your feet start hurting at the end of the day. After all, they carry the weight of your whole body. Experiencing foot pain and swelling is one of the biggest side effects of being overweight.
Many problems that occur in the feet are directly related to carrying even a small amount of extra weight. If you are overweight, the body may try to compensate by changing the way it moves. You may lean forward a bit and put extra weight on the wrong part of the foot. Your feet were designed to carry a normal amount of body weight and any extra will put undue stress on them.
Many people who are overweight as adults develop type 2 diabetes and it is often the cause of leg and foot pain. This is very serious and often older people who do not control their condition may lose all feeling in their legs and feet. It is also possible to develop small sores on the feet, and when you have diabetes, these do not always heal properly which can lead to serious infection.
The extra pressure and stress placed on muscles, joints, and tendons in the feet by extra body weight can also trigger plantar fasciitis. Plantar fasciitis is an inflammation of the tissue along the bottom of the foot, and causes pain and stiffness when walking and climbing stairs. Pain caused by plantar fasciitis can be relieved by foot stretches and orthotics inserted into the shoe.
Foot problems triggered by excess body weight may be treated by special attention to footwear. Shoes that properly support the foot – especially the arch and ankle – and allow for good circulation are very important. A podiatrist can help you decide what kind of shoe is best for your feet. Orthotics – special inserts that can be inserted into shoes – can absorb shock, support the arches, and keep the feet properly aligned. These can be found in shoe stores or may be fitted by a podiatrist.
It may also be time to consider taking off a few pounds to prevent diabetes and other life threatening diseases. Your feet will certainly thank you for it and you will feel better in a short amount of time. A water aerobics class at a local gym is a way to get needed exercise without putting any stress on the feet or ankles. Yoga is also an activity that is beneficial both to your feet and your entire body. Don't risk losing your freedom by ignoring foot pain. If you take care of your feet, you can keep your feet and your entire body feeling great.