Ingrown toenails, also known as onychocryptosis, can be annoying and painful. This common condition occurs when the surrounding skin on one or both sides of the nail grows over the edges of the nail, or when the nail itself penetrates the skin. As the nail digs into the skin, redness, swelling, and pain are often the result.
People develop ingrown toenails for various reasons. Poor nail-trimming is the most common cause, as this encourages the skin to fold over the nail. Other causes include trauma, such as stubbing a toe, or skin conditions, such as fungal infections or nails that are simply too large. In some cases, the condition may even be inherited. Poor fitting shoes generally aggravate the condition, making it worse.
Many cases of ingrown toenails may be prevented by:
- Wearing well-fitted shoes and socks
- Protecting feet from trauma when possible
- Trimming toenails straight across and avoiding repeated trimming of the nail borders
- Keeping feet clean and dry to prevent infection
If an infection is not suspected of your ingrown, it can usually be safely treated from home by soaking your foot in warm water. Avoid "bathroom surgery" and repeated cutting of the nail as this will only make the condition worse.
When attempts to reduce your symptoms from home fail, or when pain, inflammation, swelling or discharge accompany your ingrown, the toenail is most likely infected and should be treated by a podiatrist at our office. People with diabetes, nerve damage or poor circulation should always seek care immediately if an ingrown nail is detected, regardless of the severity.
A podiatrist can examine the affected toe and determine the best treatment for your condition. For an infection, an antibiotic may be prescribed. Other treatments may involve trimming or removing the infected nail with a minor in-office surgical procedure.
Ingrown toenails may be annoying, but rest assured that they can easily be prevented and treated with the help of your podiatrist. If you think you have an ingrown toenail, visit our practice for quick and easy treatment.
A hammertoe is one of the most common toe conditions, usually stemming from muscle imbalance in which the joints of the second, third, fourth or fifth toe are bent into a contracted, claw-like position. In the early stages, hammertoes are flexible and can be corrected with simple conservative measures, but if left untreated, they can become fixed and require surgery.
The most common cause of hammertoe is a muscle imbalance. Tight-fitting and high-heeled shoes often aggravate the condition, crowding your toes forward. A hammertoe can also be the result of injury in which you break or jam the toe, or from conditions like arthritis or stroke that affect nerves and muscles. In some cases, hammertoes may even be inherited.
Because of their clenched, claw-like appearance, hammertoes will generally be visibly present. Other signs and symptoms include:
- Difficult or painful motion of a toe joint
- Redness or swelling at a toe joint
- Development of calluses and corns
- Open sores in severe cases
The foot and ankle professionals at our office recommend the following for preventing and reducing the symptoms associated with hammertoe:
- Wear comfortable, proper-fitting shoes that provide support and allow enough room for your toes
- Avoid high-heeled or narrow-toed shoes
- Stretch your toe muscles to relieve pressure and pain
- Apply splints, cushions or pads to relieve pressure
- Moisturize with cream to keep the skin soft
Generally, a modification of footwear will reduce the symptoms associated with hammertoe. Other non-surgical treatment includes padding to shield corns and calluses and orthotic devices that are placed in the shoe to help control muscle imbalance. We can help you determine the best treatment for your symptoms. Severe cases that don't respond to conservative measures may require surgery to restore your toe's flexibility and eliminate the pressure.
Hammertoes are progressive - they don't go away by themselves and the condition usually gets worse over time. Once a podiatrist at has evaluated your hammertoe, a treatment plan can be developed that is suited to your needs.
If your child has ever complained of not being able to sleep at night due to leg pain, he or she may be experiencing what many people refer to as growing pains. They are common for kids during their growth and development years.
Growing pains are often characterized by a sharp, throbbing pain in the leg muscles, usually occurring during the night and sometimes late afternoon without an apparent cause. While there is no evidence that a child's growth is painful, these pains often occur during an active day of running, jumping or swimming.
Whenever a child is afflicted by episodes of recurrent leg pain, it is always best to have them evaluated. Other more serious foot and leg conditions should be ruled out before a diagnosis of growing pains is made.
Consult with a physician or a podiatrist if aching legs are a chronic complaint, or if the pain is so severe it interferes with the child's daily activities. Persistent pain and other unusual symptoms may indicate a more serious problem. The following symptoms are not due to growing pains and should be evaluated by a doctor:
- Persistent pain
- Swelling or redness in one specific area or joint
- Loss of Appetite
- Abnormal behavior
There are no treatments or medications available for growing pains, but parents can help ease the pain with simple home remedies.
- Massage and rub the child's ache until the pain passes
- Stretch your child's legs throughout the day and before bed
- Heating pads or warm baths can help soothe sore muscles
- Over-the-counter pain relievers (always consult with physician first)
While growing pains are commonly seen in young children during the growth and development years, lower extremity pain can also be caused by mechanical misalignments and structural imperfections. A thorough evaluation is crucial in order to determine the exact cause of your child's leg pain. If growing pains are the cause of your child's discomfort, rest assured that the pain is only temporary and will pass with time.
The feet have more sweat glands than any other part of the body, which means they have the ability to sweat profusely. With your feet encased in your shoes all day and the sweat unable to evaporate, bacteria will begin to grow rapidly. Bacteria then begins to break down the sweat, generating an unpleasant odor. Other factors can contribute to increased perspiration, including anxiety, hormonal changes, medications and various skin conditions.
Foot odor is a common problem, especially among those who perspire excessively, but it can be both embarrassing and physically uncomfortable. If you suffer from foot odor, rest assured that simple lifestyle changes and improved personal hygiene can help reduce and eliminate the smell.
Easy Ways to Eliminate Foot Odor
Since most foot odor is caused from excess sweat and the growth of odor-causing bacteria, it's relatively easy to control and reduce foot odor on your own. Start by taking the following preventative steps:
- Keep your feet clean by washing them with an antibacterial soap on a regular basis to minimize bacteria.
- Keep feet dry as moisture enables the growth of bacteria.
- Alternate shoes and avoid wearing the same pair for multiple days in a row.
- Choose open shoes such as sandals when possible, allowing air onto the feet which evaporates sweat and slows the growth of bacteria.
- Wear cotton socks which wick away moisture and absorb perspiration.
- Apply foot sprays and powders to the feet. Ask your podiatrist for recommended products.
- Disinfect, wash and discard foul smelling shoes as necessary.
The causes of foot odor are typically not harmful to your health, but do create an environment for the growth of fungus and bacteria. It's not unusual for infections such as toenail fungus and athlete's foot to develop as a result.
When improving your foot hygiene doesn't help reduce the smell, you may need to visit your podiatrist, as persistent foot odor can indicate an infection or a severe case of hereditary sweating. In these cases, a prescription ointment may be required to treat the problem. Visit our office, and we'll work with you to determine the cause and most effective treatment for your condition!
If you're a runner, it goes without saying that your feet take the brunt of the punishment. In fact, for runners the feet are more vulnerable to injury than any other part of the body. Luckily, both long-distance runners and casual joggers can improve their performance by paying extra attention to their feet and taking steps to prevent common foot problems. Poor fitting footwear is often the source of many foot problems caused by running. A visit to our practice can help you determine the best shoes for your foot structure.
A Runner's Roadblock
While many running-related foot injuries can result from a fall or twisted ankle, most running injuries are caused by overuse, meaning the majority of runners experience foot and ankle pain because they do too much for too long. Runners should be aware of the signs of foot problems that can slow them down if not treated promptly. Common foot and ankle injuries experienced by runners include:
Achilles Tendonitis: Achilles tendonitis and other calf-related injuries are prevalent in runners. Poor training, overuse and improper footwear are the three most common reasons for this condition. A sudden increase in distance or pace can strain the muscles and tendons in the foot and ankle, causing small tears within these structures that result in pain and inflammation. Appropriate shoes and training are the most important steps to preventing Achilles tendonitis. Conservative treatment includes rest, ice, stretching and sometimes orthotics or physical therapy.
Heel Pain: Runners develop heel pain more than any other foot-related injury. Plantar fasciitis is the most common cause of heel pain, the result of placing excessive stress on the ligament in the bottom of the foot. Rest, stretching and support are the best ways to ease the pain and inflammation. Reduce your mileage and avoid hill and speed workouts. Stretch before and after you run, and ice your heel after each workout. Special splints and shoe inserts from our practice may also provide support and relief for your heel pain.
Stress Fractures: Stress fractures are small cracks in the surface of a bone. Runners generally notice gradual muscle soreness, stiffness and pain on the affected bone, most often in the lower leg or the foot. Early diagnosis is critical, as a small fracture can spread and eventually become a complete fracture of the bone. Stress fractures are typically caused by increasing training more quickly than the body's ability to build up and strengthen the bone.
If you have symptoms of a stress fracture, you should stop running immediately and see a podiatrist. This injury can keep a runner off the track for several weeks, and is not an injury that you can run through. Depending on the severity of the stress fracture, a cast may be necessary.
If you experience chronic foot pain from running, make an appointment with a podiatrist. Leaving foot injuries untreated could result in more serious conditions, ultimately keeping you from your best performance. Keep in mind that these are not the only foot ailments caused by running, and when at-home foot care isn't effective, you'll need to be evaluated by a podiatrist. As in most cases, prevention is the best medicine. Good footwear, proper training and recognizing a problem before it becomes serious are your keys to staying on the road and avoiding foot injuries.
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