Philadelphia Tri-state Area Podiatrists Answer Foot Health Questions
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Will I need bunion surgery?
Patients often think that surgery is the only permanent way to relieve bunion pain. However, depending on your level of injury, you may not have to undergo surgical treatment—and you can still experience a full recovery.
Doctors usually recommend bunion surgery only as a last resort for treatment, for a number of reasons:
- Bunions can still return after surgery. Patients who believe surgery will relieve bunions “once and for all”—and who do not change their footwear habits—are often discouraged when the bunions reappear.
- Surgery may not alter your foot’s appearance. Patients who are considering surgery for aesthetic reasons may be disappointed that their foot’s appearance did not improve.
- Surgery may affect flexibility. Surgery can stiffen the big toe joint, which may be troubling to athletes or others who require a full range of motion in the big toe.
- You will need to rest after surgery. You will have to stay inactive and off of your foot for weeks after surgery. Any attempt to hurry the healing process can cause further damage to the joint.
- Your foot may change shape during surgery. While every effort may be made to match your foot to its twin, your foot may become narrower or otherwise asymmetrical to the other.
In many cases, bunions may be corrected with footwear improvements, orthotics, and other devices that can correct the toe joint to its proper position. Our Media podiatrists can help you decide which option is right for you in your first consultation. Call HealthMark Foot & Ankle Associates today in Media at 610-565-3668 or in Phoenixville at 610-933-8644 to get started.
Does painful diabetic neuropathy increase my risk of other serious foot injuries?
Not on its own. Most people experience diabetic neuropathy foot problems when they have sudden fluctuations in their blood glucose levels. This can happen during periods when patients are letting their sugar levels go unchecked, but also when they are attempting—and even succeeding—to get them under control.
It is important to remember that any diabetic foot pain is not necessarily neuropathy. If you are experiencing a tingling or burning in your feet, you may have an ulcer, infection, or circulation problems—all of which can increase the chances of foot amputation. A Media podiatrist can help you understand what is causing your distress in order to treat it effectively.
Common symptoms that occur with painful neuropathy include:
- Pain responses to non-painful activities, such as wearing shoes, walking, or having blankets touching the patient’s feet at night
- Increased pain responses to a stimulus that normally causes minor pain, such as heat, impact, or freezing
- Squeezing or tightening sensations that feel like the feet are continuously under pressure
- Vibrations or tingling under the skin of the feet and hands, as if something is crawling underneath the surface
The biggest factor in whether you will experience trouble with your feet in the future is whether you take proper care of your feet. If you have normal sensation and good circulation, painful neuropathy may pass without increasing your risk of foot injury or amputation.
To find out more about how diabetes affects your foot health, contact our experienced podiatrists at HealthMark Foot & Ankle Associates today at 610-565-3668 in Media or 610-933-8644 in Phoenixville.
How long will my sprained ankle take to heal?
If your sprain did not require surgery, you should see improvement in four to six weeks. However, patients will heal at different rates—and impatient sufferers may set back their healing times by trying to do too much too quickly.
Your sprained ankle treatment in PA will likely begin by immobilizing the joint. Most injuries will need to be protected from further damage as they heal, so you may need to wear a cast or boot to keep the ankle stable as you walk, sit, and sleep.
Many patients who find walking difficult in the first week after injuring an ankle benefit from using a cane or crutches to bear their weight. However, much of the swelling and pain will subside in three or four days, especially if the patient applies ice and takes anti-inflammatory medication.
When the swelling has subsided, your doctor may recommend motion exercises to strengthen your foot. These can be painful at first but will prevent stiffness as your ankle heals. It is vital that you only do as many movements—and only for the length of time—that your doctor prescribes.
The important thing to remember is that a full recovery cannot be rushed. Injuries from minor sprains to completely torn ligaments can heal without surgery, but recuperation will take time. There is no way to speed up the process, and there are many ways to re-injure the joint while it is vulnerable during healing.
The trusted podiatrists at HealthMark Foot & Ankle Associates can help you develop a healing plan that will get you back on your feet as soon as possible. Call us today at 610-565-3668 in Media or 610-933-8644 in Phoenixville to set up your first consultation.
Will getting arch inserts help correct my flat feet?
Probably not. While arch supports may relieve some of the pressure on your painful flat feet in Philadelphia, they will likely not be strong enough to mold your foot into an arched position. Before you attempt any home remedies on your arches, you should schedule an appointment with a podiatrist to discover what the best treatment for your foot pain will be.
The first thing you should ask your podiatrist is if it is indeed the flatness of your foot that is causing the pain, since many flat feet are painless. There are many different causes of flat feet, including:
- Genetics. Humans generally develop an arch in their feet around four or five years old. However, many people never develop arches. Flat feet may be simply a genetic variation in foot type; some patients experience pain in the arch and heels, and some people never have any pain as a result.
- Increased weight. Weight gain can cause the arches to flatten out over time, placing pressure on the tendons and ligaments along the bottom of the foot. This may cause the ligaments to stretch and results in a widened foot and flattened arch.
- Age. Tendons along the bottom of the foot will also stretch with time. Older patients may experience fallen arches as these ligaments lose their elasticity.
Once your Phoenixville podiatrist determines the cause of your flat feet,he can help you determine the best course of treatment. At HealthMark Foot & Ankle Associates, we can bring your foot back to normal alignment and ease the discomfort as your feet heal. Call us today at 610-565-3668 in Media or 610-933-8644 in Phoenixville to get a diagnosis on your condition.
Will I need surgery to fix my hammertoes?
It depends. The most common methods of treating painful hammertoes in Philadelphia involve changing footwear and allowing the bunched and bent toes to relax naturally. However, your course of treatment will depend on the type of hammertoe you have, how much pain it is currently causing you, and if you have any additional conditions that increase your health risks.
First, your Phoenixville podiatrist will determine which kind of hammertoe you are suffering from. There are generally two kinds:
- Flexible hammertoes. Your podiatrist may try to move your toe at the joint where it is bent. If it will move, it is a flexible hammertoe—an early-stage version of the condition. Mild hammertoe cases may be corrected with non-surgical treatment options.
- Rigid hammertoes. If your hammertoe cannot be moved or flexed, it means the tendons in the toe have become rigid. If they have progressed to this point, the ligaments are unlikely to relax on their own, and they are pressing the joint out of alignment. Patients usually need surgery to correct a rigid hammertoe.
The most common surgical procedure for a hammertoe involves snipping the tendon underneath the toe, allowing it to lay flat. If the patient is diabetic or has poor circulation, surgery may be needed to avoid persistent foot ulcers—a common source of infection that can lead to amputation or even early death.
For more information on treating painful foot conditions, call the trusted podiatrists at HealthMark Foot & Ankle Associates today at 610-565-3668 in Media or 610-933-8644 in Phoenixville to set up your first consultation. To learn how to take great care of your feet, click the link at the top of this page and we’ll send you a FREE copy of our book, The Foot is Not an Island: Recognizing Vitamin D Deficiency & How to Correct It.
What are symptoms of a heel spur?
Heel spurs are incredibly painful foot conditions that make it difficult for patients to walk, run, and stand. They are caused by pointy irregular growths on the heel bone that burrow into the surrounding tissues, causing pain and inflammation at the back of the heel or on the sole of the foot.
Heel spurs can be difficult to diagnose, since they are closely related to other foot problems such as plantar fasciitis and inflammation of the Achilles tendon (the long tendon at the back of the heel). The most common indications of a heel spur in Philadelphia include:
- Pain and tenderness. Depending on where your spur is located, you may feel pain on the bottom of the heel when walking barefoot on hard surfaces, or at the back of the heel which is especially noticeable as you push off the ball of the foot.
- Swelling. Your foot may swell noticeably at the end of the day or after you have been walking or standing for an extended period of time.
- Bone protrusion. You will likely not be able to feel the bone in your foot that is causing you pain, but your doctor can confirm your condition with an x-ray of the heel bone.
The good news is that heel spurs are treatable with non-surgical methods, allowing you to get back into your daily life, pain-free. Our Philadelphia podiatrists at HealthMark Foot & Ankle Associates can help you find the solution for your heel spurs that works with your schedule, lifestyle, and body type. Call us today at 610-565-3668 in Media or 610-933-8644 in Phoenixville to begin your first consultation.
How can I tell if I have a “soft” corn?
Many people who are suffering through their days with a soft corn have no idea what it is. They assume that they have dead skin between their toes, or they have athlete’s foot—causing them to try ineffective treatments that will not relieve the pain.
A soft corn is a corn between the toes, usually between the fourth and fifth toe. The corn usually forms due to an underlying bone spur, and the pinching and rubbing of footwear causes the patient extreme pain. It is called a “soft” corn because the moisture of your foot will keep the skin from callousing, causing a buildup of white, mushy skin over the corn.
A soft corn should be treated carefully, since the affected area is a prime location for bacteria. Open sores may easily become infected, so over-the-counter corn treatments should not be used on soft corns. Patients should first try relieving the pressure on the corn by placing foam pads or cotton between the toes to cushion their footsteps. Regular foot washing and a small amount of antibiotic ointment will reduce the risk of infection as your corn heals.
If the corn does not go away on its own, patients may choose to have their corns removed. Surgery may involve removal of the corn and the bone spur underneath it in order to prevent the corn from coming back.
If you think you may be suffering from soft corns in Phoenixville, the podiatrists at HealthMark Foot & Ankle Associates can help you recover. Call us today for an appointment in Media at 610-565-3668 or in Phoenixville at 610-933-8644, or click the link on this page for a FREE copy of our book, The Foot is Not an Island: Recognizing Vitamin D Deficiency & How to Correct It.
What is onychomycosis, and how can I treat it?
Onychomycosis is a fungal infection of the nail, and is a common side effect of athlete’s foot. The fungi that causes these foot conditions thrive in warm, moist areas, such as gyms, swimming pools, or locker rooms. Since athlete’s foot is also caused by a fungus, it makes sense that other bacteria will thrive under similar conditions, such as moist feet, damp socks, and tight-fitting shoes.
You may have a fungal nail infection if you experience any of the following changes in your toenails:
- Dullness or cloudy patches
- Thickening of the nail
- Crumbling or fraying on the nail edges
- Change in the shape of your toenails
- A lifted appearance or “loosening” of the nail
- Debris trapped between the nail bed and toenail
- White or yellow streaks on the sides of the toenails
Treatment for nail infections can be complicated. In most cases over-the-counter medications will not be effective, so you may suffer symptoms even after you get rid of athlete’s foot. The best course of treatment is prescription anti-fungal medicines, usually in a pill form. To prevent the fungus from coming back, you will likely need to take an anti-fungal medication for 2 to 3 months.
If you have been dealing with a persistent foot ailment, the Philadelphia podiatrists at HealthMark Foot & Ankle Associates can help.Call us today for an appointment in Media at 610-565-3668 or in Phoenixville at 610-933-8644, or click the link on this page for a FREE copy of our book, The Foot is Not an Island: Recognizing Vitamin D Deficiency & How to Correct It.
How can I protect my feet against complications from scleroderma?
If you have been diagnosed with systemic sclerosis, you must constantly be on the lookout for painful or troublesome scleroderma foot symptoms. Here are just a few ways you can spot problems before they become serious health issues:
- Inspect your feet daily. When you get out of the bath or shower, sit down immediately and inspect each foot, including each nail and the areas between the toes. If you see any changes in your skin, nail thickness, or signs of a foot ulcer, seek medical advice as soon as possible.
- Moisturize your feet. You should moisturize your feet at least once daily, preferably up to four times a day. Use a fragrance-free lotion with as few additives as possible, and take care not to leave any lotion between your toes.
- Trim your toenails. Your nails should always be cut in a straight line across the edge of the nail. If you have trouble using nail clippers or your toenails have become too thick for conventional clippers, your podiatrist can trim your nails for you.
- Choose proper footwear. Your shoes should not rub against any portion of your foot and should be wide enough to accommodate your toes without bunching. If your feet are often cold, you may choose shoes with a thicker sole or buy thermal insoles for further protection.
- Ask a podiatrist. Your podiatrist will be able to asses any problems with your feet, as well as recommend a personalized treatment plan to avoid future health problems.
If you have been diagnosed with scleroderma in Phoenixville, the podiatrists at HealthMark Foot & Ankle Associates are available to answer your questions. Call us today for an appointment in Media at 610-565-3668 or in Phoenixville at 610-933-8644.
How can I tell if I have a bunion?
Many people will dismiss pain in their feet, assuming it is not a serious condition. However, this willingness to shrug off considerable pain usually leads to the condition getting worse, leading to an inability to wear shoes or even walk until the patient has no choice but to undergo bunion surgery in Philadelphia.
The best defense against serious forms of treatment is to spot your condition early. If you think you have a blister on the side of your foot, examine it carefully; you may actually have a bunion.
The most common signs of a bunion include:
- A bony bump on the inside of the foot at the first big toe joint
- The big toe is turned inward, pressing toward the other toes
- Pain in the joint, often made worse when wearing shoes or walking
Other than these “telltale” signs, there are additional symptoms such as:
- Redness and swelling of the big toe joint
- Irritated skin on or around the bunion
- Callouses along the inside edge of the big toe
- Blisters at the site of the bunion or around the toes
Bunions are especially troublesome conditions because they rarely act alone. A bunion will increase your risk of suffering other painful foot conditions, such as corns, calluses, and blisters, and will make walking increasingly difficult until the pressure on the toe joint is released.
The Media podiatrists at HealthMark Foot & Ankle Associates can help you choose the best course of treatment for your bunion, getting you back on your feet for good. Call us today for an appointment in Media at 610-565-3668 or in Phoenixville at 610-933-8644.