Oh No! A Hammertoe!

Hammertoe is an abnormality that can cause the joints of your middle toes to bend in the shape of a hammer. The big toe is not susceptible. The condition is caused by an imbalance between the muscles and tendons in the toes. Shoes that are too tight, such as high heels, can contribute to this bending. Injury to the toes, or arthritis in the joints can also be contributing factors. Hammertoe can be inherited, or created over time by structural changes. Untreated, hammertoes can be linked to a variety of other problems, so early intervention is advisable.

 

Hammertoe Symptoms

The telltale hammer shape is often accompanied by the following symptoms:

      Burning, redness, tenderness to touch

      Pain from rubbing on footwear

      Bunions, corns and calluses are also frequently seen in patients with hammertoes

      A cut on your toe from all the rubbing

 

Treatments for Hammertoes

Conservative and non-surgical remedies may include:

      Orthotic devices to isolate and cushion the toe and correct the imbalance between the tendon and muscle

      Moleskin and other pads for corns and calluses to eliminate chafing

      Roomy shoes with a wide toe box and low heels

      Steroid injections may be recommended to reduce inflammation

      Splinting or strapping can be used to realign bent toes

      Ibuprofen or other NSAID for pain

      Toe stretching and strengthening exercises such as picking up marbles with your toes, or writing out the alphabet

 

The best time to treat hammertoes is in the early stages when they still retain some flexibility. As they become more rigid and painful, it may be necessary to have your foot specialist surgically realign the tendons and reposition the toe. This surgery is performed on an outpatient basis.

 

For any problems you may be experiencing with your feet and ankles it is important to see a foot specialist to receive the correct care. Bruce B. Zappan, D.P.M., P.C., of Medical Arts Podiatry Associates in Philadelphia, is an expert in proper evaluation and recommendations for treatment. Please feel free to contact us with any questions or make an appointment with our office at 215-563-2560.

Look Out for Foot Cancer

While skin cancer most often is associated with sun exposure, it can still affect parts of your body that don’t normally get a lot of sun, such as your feet. Be sure not to neglect your feet this summer when it comes to sunscreen application. Also be aware that some cancers of the feet and ankles can be related to chemicals, viruses, and chronic irritation.

 

3 Types of Cancer that Can Strike Your Feet

 

Malignant melanoma—By far one of the most aggressive and deadly of cancers, a melanoma will grow deeper into the skin where it can easily spread to other parts of the body via blood vessels and lymph nodes. Melanomas can grow on the soles of the feet and underneath the toenails. They can often be mistaken for warts, moles, blisters, or bruises, so evaluation by your foot doctor is essential for proper diagnosis.

 

Basal Cell Carcinoma—This type of cancer is rarely seen on the feet since it tends to be related to sun exposure. It is less aggressive than melanoma and is unlikely to spread beyond the skin.

 

Squamous Cell Carcinoma—This cancer can cause painless, itchy bumps that look like plantar warts, or it may resemble a fungal infection in other cases. It doesn’t usually spread unless it has been growing for a long time.

 

Since cancers of the feet can often appear as non-cancerous problems, it’s important to have the trained eye of a foot specialist to separate the benign from the potentially malignant. Early detection is critical for successful treatment. Always wear sunscreen, and try to limit your sun exposure during the heat of the day between 10am and 5pm.

 

For help identifying a skin lesion, or for any other problems you may be experiencing with your feet and ankles, Bruce B. Zappan, D.P.M., P.C., of Medical Arts Podiatry Associates in Philadelphia, is an expert in proper evaluation and recommendations for treatment. Please feel free to contact us with any questions or make an appointment with our office at 215-563-2560.

Running Injury Prevention Tips

With the lovely summer weather, many people are getting outside to exercise, with running being one of the most popular activities. All it takes is a good pair of properly fitted running shoes, some will power, and nice place to run.

 

While running is excellent cardiovascular exercise, the repetitive stress can cause a variety of problems with your feet and ankles including plantar fasciitis, Achilles tendonitis, and shin splints.

 

Here are some tips to help avoid common running related injuries:

 

      Proper footwear—Running shoes with proper cushioning and arch support are essential to maintaining good foot health.

      Warm up before exercising—Stretch your muscles, ligaments and tendons. A wide variety of flexibility and strengthening methods are available for every part of your body.

      Go slow at first—If you are just starting an exercise program, start slowly, and gradually increase the intensity of your workout. Many injuries are caused by the sudden stress put on muscles and tendons that haven’t been used in awhile, so take it easy.

      Cool down—Always slow down gradually after a long run to allow your body to recover.

      Orthotic inserts—These can be custom made to fit your unique foot and help to correct poor gait mechanics and other problems.

      Drink plenty of fluids—Keeping properly hydrated will help prevent cramping injuries and pain.

      Swelling and pain management—Some minor injuries, aches and pains can be treated with rest, ice, and elevation. Ibuprofen can be taken for pain.

 

Experienced runners and novices alike will unfortunately experience discomfort and injury at some point, despite taking all the necessary precautions. It just comes with the territory! So get a good pair of running shoes and start off slowly. The benefits of exercising far outweigh any downside.

 

For running injuries or any other problems you may be experiencing with your feet and ankles it is important to see a foot specialist to receive the correct care. Bruce B. Zappan, D.P.M., P.C., of Medical Arts Podiatry Associates in Philadelphia, is an expert in proper evaluation and recommendations for treatment. Please feel free to contact us with any questions or make an appointment with our office at 215-563-2560.

Chilblain Pain

So what exactly is a chilblain? Chilblains are capillaries (small blood vessels) in your skin that have become painfully inflamed and irritated after repeated exposure to cold (but not quite freezing) temperatures. Also known as pernio, it is characterized by small, medium and large red blotches on the skin, with itching, swelling and possibly blisters evident on the hands and feet. For some sufferers, chilblains can become chronic and show up like clockwork when the weather turns cold every year. Since a main cause of chilblains is overexposure to cold, you can avoid getting this condition in the first place by covering your exposed skin during cold weather.

 

Signs and Symptoms of chilblains may include:

 

·       Red, itchy blotches on the skin, particular in the extremities

·       You may notice your skin color shifting from red to a darker blue with the onset of a chilblain attack

·       Blisters or ulcers will often appear

·       You may feel like your skin is burning

 

Factors that increase your chances of developing chilblains include:

 

·       Location—Those who live in areas of higher humidity where the temperatures are low but not freezing may be more susceptible to getting chilblains

·       Gender—Adult females are more prone to this condition as compared to men and children

·       Systemic diseases—such as diabetes and any condition that causes poor blood circulation can also increase the likelihood

·       Tight fitting shoes—and clothes have been shown to cause chilblains, especially in a cold and damp location

 

While chilblains will generally clear up on their own after the cold weather subsides, if you have diabetes, you should be extra careful when this condition develops on your feet due to the possibility of blistering and an infection developing and spreading.

 

For any problems you may be experiencing with your feet and ankles it is important to see a foot specialist to receive the correct care. Bruce B. Zappan, D.P.M., P.C., of Medical Arts Podiatry Associates in Philadelphia, is an expert in proper evaluation and recommendations for treatment. Please feel free to contact us with any questions or make an appointment with our office at 215-563-2560.

Out With Gout!

The condition known as gout is a result of the buildup of uric acid in the blood that isn’t properly eliminated by your body’s filtration system. Uric acid is usually filtered out by your kidneys and excreted in your urine, but an excess can sometimes remain in the blood for a variety of reasons, and has a tendency to crystallize out of the blood and into the joints, causing severe pain and inflammation with the needle like shards stabbing into you.

 

Gout frequently strikes the big toe, but since the uric acid runs through your whole system, you can also develop painful gout attacks in your hands, wrists, knees, and ankles.

 

Symptoms and tests:

 

      Podagra onset—This is gout of the big toe, the most common form. It can strike unexpectedly, and usually occurs at night while you are asleep. Once the crystals start depositing in your big toe joint, the pain and swelling will become rapidly severe with just the weight of your sheet brushing across your toe causing severe pain.

      Blood and fluid tests—Your doctor will perform microscopic inspection of the fluid around the joint to look for the presence of uric acid crystals. A blood test can confirm the increased concentration of uric acid.

 

A gout attack will subside on it’s own after a few days during which ibuprofen, ice, rest, and elevation will help treat the painful symptoms. Proactive treatment of gout is essential to preventing future outbreaks. Avoid foods and beverages high in purines that cause increased uric acid to develop. This means cutting down or eliminating from your diet things like red meat, seafood, and wheat derived alcoholic drinks such as beer and whiskey. Foods that will help remove uric acid from your blood include cherries, blueberries, bananas and tomatoes.

 

The development of gout is frequently the first sign that you need to start paying more attention to your diet and lifestyle. Making regular visits to your foot doctor can go a long way to developing a healthy and happy relationship with your feet.

 

 

For gout or any other problems you may be experiencing with your feet and ankles it is important to see a foot specialist to receive the correct care. Bruce B. Zappan, D.P.M., P.C., of Medical Arts Podiatry Associates in Philadelphia, is an expert in proper evaluation and recommendations for treatment. Please feel free to contact us with any questions or make an appointment with our office at 215-563-2560.