Posts for: January, 2013
What is it?
A “Hammertoe” is an abnormal bending down of a toe so as to resemble a hammer or a claw. It is similar to other deformities such as “claw toe” and “mallet toe,” with the only difference being where on the toe the bending occurs.
What causes it?
Hammertoes can arise from a variety of causes. Genetics are thought to play a role. They can occur due to other deformities, such as from bunions. They can also occur from poor shoe choices, such as high heels and flip flops: the constant clenching of your toes to keep flip flops on your feet can accelerate hammertoe formation, and the extra pressure and that is put on your toes while wearing high heels can also cause your toes to retract.
What are the symptoms?
What treatments are available?
For some patients, conservative treatments such as specialized orthotics may relieve some of the pain associated with hammertoes. Shoe modification is important, so pick shoes that offer wider toe boxes and avoid high heels and flip flops.
For select patients, surgery may be necessary if the deformity is advanced. In this case, our doctors here at Advanced Foot and Ankle Care would be happy to discuss all your options with you and make sure that all other reasonable options have been exhausted.
The summer after my sophomore year of college I taught pre-school swimming lessons at my local YMCA. Imagine my surprise last week when one of my old swimming students was conducting occupational interviews for a high school project (I feel SO old!) and asked for my input. I filled out my interview and emailed it back to her. This got me to thinking about how many people, even people reading this blog, know very little about podiatry. Whenever I see a patient who is preparing for college or a patient who is the parent of a student preparing for college, I can’t say enough good things about my chosen field. I love what I do, and I would love to share my profession with all of you. To do that, here is a copy of the interview I filled out earlier this week. Welcome to Podiatry 101.
Name: Hillarie Sizemore Amburgey
Occupation: Podiatrist (Foot and Ankle Surgeon) at Advanced Foot and Ankle Care
Years of Experience:4.5
How would you describe what you do?
I diagnose and treat foot and ankle problems in adults and children. I specialize in congenital disorders, sports injuries, diabetic foot care, and minor and reconstructive surgery of the feet and ankles.
What is your average day like?
No day is alike, which is one of the things I love the most about my job. I typically see patients in my office 5 days a week and do surgery a half or whole day a week. If I have a patient that I am seeing in the hospital then I go see them (round on them) either on my lunch break or after regular work hours.
What kind of hours do you work? Do you have to work weekends, holidays or call?
I work from 8-5pm in the office 5 days a week. On days that I have surgery then I am at the hospital by 6:45 or 7am. If I have a patient in the hospital then my day usually ends around 7pm. I am on call every 3rd week and weekend. Our office is closed Christmas Eve, Christmas, New Years Eve, New Years Day, Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, and Thanksgiving.
What kind of training or education did you complete?
I completed undergraduate college in 3 years, and then went to a podiatric medical school for 4 years. Then I completed 3 years of residency training.
How long did it take for you to find a job once you completed your education or training?
I found a job before I completed residency.
Do people in your occupation all have a similar job duty or is there variety?
There is some variety. All podiatrists have surgical training; however some prefer not to do surgery. Podiatrists are employed in private practice, at hospitals, wound care centers and sports medicine clinics. Some very specialized podiatrists just specialize in the treatment of foot problems in children.
What is your favorite part of your job?
The interaction with my patients. They are constant sources of jokes and the weather forecast. I laugh and cry with them. And I am always learning new things from them.
What is your least favorite part of your job?
The pressure to change my treatment plan or what I think is best for my patient because their insurance won’t pay for it, and they can’t afford it. It is a shame that insurances and people with no medical education have so much influence on patient care.
How did you decide on your career?
I shadowed a podiatrist and liked what I saw. I felt that he had a good quality of life, was helping people every day, and had a great relationship with his patients.
What are three qualities that would help someone succeed in your career (e.g. creative, organized)?
You will need to be…….
1. Self-motivating- You will need to push yourself through school and residency. The learning never ends. I still study every week.
2. Likeable- A medical practice is still a business, and your business will fail if your customers don’t like you. If your patients like you they are more likely to take your advice and refer you to their friends and family.
3. Compassionate- Foot pain and problems get in the way of people’s lives in a big way. People that can’t walk without pain are more likely to lead sedentary lives and become depressed. It’s important to remember this and to try to empathize with your patients.
Would you encourage young people to pursue your occupation?
If it’s what they really want to do, yes. If they see a future of sports cars, tropical vacations, and mansions in their future, then they should probably look into doing something else with their life. Healthcare has changed quite a bit in the past 10 years, and I believe it will change a lot more in the next 5-10 years. The cost of a medical education is around $200,000.00, and in this day and age of decreased reimbursements (payments) that is a big financial burden. For many physicians it can take upwards of 30 years to pay off these loans.
What are some fun facts or interesting stories from your job?
I have a lot of funny and gross stories. Sometimes patients come in with maggots crawling out of their foot wounds. This is cleaning the wound of dead tissue and is actually good for it (but we usually clean them off anyway).
I have also used leeches to stimulate blood flow to a foot with decreased circulation.
I would estimate that about 5 times a week (at least!) I am asked why I would want to look at peoples feet every day. And I usually (Jokingly) respond that I have a foot fetish. Then I go on and on about all the things that I love about my job J.
Every year we all make New Year’s Resolutions that we fail to keep. But here are some of my personal recommendations on some new year’s resolutions that can improve your foot health:
Stretch before exercising.
Perhaps the most common New Year’s resolution is to lose weight or exercise more. If this was one of your resolutions, don’t forget to add stretching to the mix. Proper stretching is important because it can prevent injuries, and can also increase flexibility and range of motion.
New Year, New Shoes.
Ring in the New Year with some new shoes. Replace any shoes that show a considerable degree of wear. Shoes may need to be replaced sooner depending on how often they are worn, or what type of shoe it is (for example, running shoes often need to be replaced much sooner than other shoes). Make sure that the soles of the shoes are intact so that they can provide the best support. After you throw the old pair away, make sure that the shoes you replace them with are sensible. And while you are at it . . .
Stop wearing shoes that are bad for your feet.
This might be the hardest on the list for some readers. Studies have shown that many women will wear certain shoes even if it hurts to wear them. This year, try to be more sensible in the shoes that you wear. While you might like those stilettos now, is the pain that you will have from them later worth it? It’s up to you.