Philadelphia Tri-state Area Podiatrists Answer Foot Health Questions

We believe that every question deserves a good answer. Healthmark Foot and Ankle provides you the best up-to date information for your concerns.
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  • How often should I ice my sprained ankle?

    This is a very important question. Since you want your sprained ankle to heal as quickly as possible, you might be tempted to leave ice on your ankle for hours at a time. But while icing an ankle can greatly reduce the swelling, it can also cause nerve damage if the ice pack is left on too long. 

    Here are some guidelines for the most effective way to use ice in easing the pain of a sprained ankle:

    • How long? Ice should only be left on your injured ankle for up to 20 minutes at a time. As a general rule, you should remove the ice when your skin feels numb.
    • How often? You should use ice treatments every 2 to 4 hours in the first 3 days after your injury. 
    • Should I wrap my ankle with ice? Yes. The ice pack method is the best way to do this. Fill a plastic bag halfway with crushed ice, and wrap a thin cloth around your injured ankle. Place the ice pack over the ankle and wrap a bandage around it to keep it in place.
    • What’s a slush bath? A slush bath might work best for severe sprains or extreme swelling. Fill a large bucket with water and crushed ice, and place your ankle in the bucket until it is numb. 
    • What else? If you have a small, localized sprain, you may consider an ice massages. Wrap an ice cube in a tea towel with one end exposed. Rub the uncovered end of the ice cube slowly over the sprained area using a circular motion. Don’t hold the ice on any one spot for longer than 30 seconds.

    For a personalized diagnosis and treatment plan, contact the trusted podiatrists at Healthmark Foot and Ankle Associates today at 610-565-3668 in Media or 610-933-8644 in Phoenixville.

  • Do flat feet only cause pain in the foot, or can the condition cause pain elsewhere?

    It might seem strange to think that flat feet can cause problems in other places in the body. While a case of rigid or inflexible flat feet can certainly cause pain in the toes, heel, arch, and outside ridge of the foot, patients who let their flat feet go untreated may eventually experience pain in other areas of the body, including the:

    • Ankles. Walking continually on a flattened arch puts extra pressure on the ankles, which can cause them to swell or even fracture over time.
    • Lower legs. You might experience pain in your calves or a stabbing pain in your shins (known as shin splints) as your body attempts to cope with the stress of an inflexible foot.
    • Back and hips. As the pain caused by flat feet travels throughout your body, you may alter your walking pattern to ease the discomfort. In doing so, you place weight on other, less stable areas, including your back, hips, and joints.

    The good news is that flat feet often can be treated easily, before you experience any long-term complications. Changing shoes, wearing custom-made orthotics, or doing daily exercises might be enough to reverse the condition. At times, though, surgery may be necessary to correct the fallen arch. 

    There are many causes of flat foot pain, and your case might call for different treatment from that of another person. Our trusted podiatrists at Healthmark Foot and Ankle Associates can fix flat feet in Media, and it all starts with a consultation. Don’t put it off any longer. Call our office today at 610-565-3668 in Media or 610-933-8644 in Phoenixville.

  • Are tight shoes the only cause of hammertoes?

    No. Wearing tight, narrow, or ill-fitting shoes is one of the most common causes of hammertoes, but there are other reasons a patient might develop hammertoes (or mallet toes) in Philadelphia.

    Wearing high-heeled shoes or shoes that don’t provide enough room in the toe box tends to crowd your toes and prevent them from lying flat. Over time, this can lead to a hammertoe, but hammertoes can also stem from:

    • Injury. If you have jammed or broken a toe in the past, it is more susceptible to becoming a hammertoe or mallet toe. 
    • Inherited conditions. You may be genetically predisposed to hammertoes if there’s a history of foot deformities or misshapen feet in your family.
    • Diabetes. Nerve and muscle damage stemming from diabetic neuropathy can lead to abnormal foot functioning.
    • Other disease. Any disease that affects the nerves, muscles, or joints can cause the toes to become shortened or curled. These include arthritis, stroke, and even chronic obesity.

    No matter how minor your case might be, you should take steps to correct this condition sooner rather than later. The trusted Philadelphia podiatrists at Healthmark Foot and Ankle Associates can work with you to discover what is causing your painful hammertoes. We will find a course of treatment that works with your lifestyle, help you to treat your feet at home and show you how to avoid similar foot problems in the future.

    Call us today at 610-565-3668 in Media or 610-933-8644 in Phoenixville to set up a consultation.

    For more information about taking 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.

  • How long will my heel spur take to heal?

    It depends. Some patients prolong their healing times by trying to “tough it out” or “walk through the pain,” which can make an already painful condition completely debilitating.

    Heel spurs are directly linked to plantar fasciitis, the inflammation of the ligament running along the bottom of the foot. Many people have bone spurs that cause no pain at all; others may begin to show symptoms when plantar fasciitis puts pressure on the spur and causes sudden pain in their heel.

    Because heel spurs are exacerbated by soft-tissue problems in the feet, the most effective treatment is rest. People with fast-paced jobs or those who spend a lot of time on their feet might be unwilling to spend time off their feet. But refusing to take adequate time for the spur to heal can turn a relatively mild problem into a recurring or long-term condition.

    People with heel spurs are likely to experience ups and downs during their recovery time. Often they will think the condition is improving, so they will stop resting and cease treatment, which can cause the pain to return at full force. The best course of action is to be extremely gentle when walking or standing until the pain is completely gone; at that point, activity can be gradually and carefully increased. 

    Healing can take anywhere from a few weeks to several months, depending on the severity of the spur and how diligently it is treated. Patients who are overweight or those who put off seeing a doctor for a diagnosis are more likely to suffer for a longer period and are also more likely to have the pain come back. 

    If you’ve been trying to treat heel spurs at home for a while, the podiatrists at Healthmark Foot and Ankle Associates can help you find a more effective solution. Call us today at 610-565-3668 in Media or 610-933-8644 in Phoenixville to set up a consultation.

  • What is the difference between a corn and a callus?

    There’s a tender spot on your foot. You’re pretty sure it’s a corn, but you’ve never had one before…and it could just be a mark where your shoes rub against your toes. So, how can you begin to treat it if you’re not sure what it is?

    While they both have a tendency to cause pain, there are a few general differences between calluses and corns: 

    • Calluses are flat areas of tough, thickened skin caused by repeated pressure or rubbing against your foot. They are your body’s way of protecting the inner layers of your skin; by turning the outer surface hard and tough, the inner tissues are less exposed to heat, cold, or penetration. Calluses are often found on the bottoms of the feet but can also form on the tops and sides of the feet and the heels—especially if there are seams inside your shoes that rub against your feet.Calluses can be removed with a pumice stone or by cutting away the dead skin. However, to prevent a number of complications that could result from removing too much skin or cutting too deeply, you may want to consider seeking the help of an experienced podiatrist. 
    • Corns are rounded bumps that often appear dry, waxy, or discolored. Like calluses, they are caused by excessive, repeated pressure on the foot. Unlike calluses, corns have a core that points inward. That core can press on nerves and cause intense pain. The thickening of the skin that occurs with both corns and calluses is called hyperkeratosis. Corns often can be treated with cushioned pads and proper footwear; if they persist, a doctor can remove them. Using an over-the-counter treatment that contains acid to treat a corn can result in damage to healthy tissue around the corn.

    The team at Healthmark Foot and Ankle Associates has years of experience treating corns in Philadelphia. We can help you kick your painful foot problem, so call either of our two locations and set up a consultation today. For our Media office, call 610-565-3668, and for our office in Phoenixville, call 610-933-8644.

  • Why do I need a podiatrist to treat my athlete’s foot? Can’t I just get the spray stuff?

    When treating athlete’s foot, it’s important to recognize the scope of your condition. It might seem minor (other than being extremely itchy and annoying), but athlete’s foot can develop into a more serious problem unless it is treated properly and completely—and an over-the-counter spray might not do the trick.

    Depending on the type of fungus that caused your athlete’s foot, a qualified foot doctor in Philadelphia might recommend:

    • Topical treatments.Topical creams and sprays can relieve mild cases of athlete’s foot. However, if the skin on the sole of your foot is tough or thickened, topical treatments might not be able to penetrate it.In addition, over-the-counter preparations typically contain very low doses of the drug intended to get rid of the fungus, whereas your podiatrist can usually prescribe a stronger treatment.
    • Oral prescriptions. If your athlete’s foot persists despite topical treatment, you might need an oral antifungal medicine to eliminate the infection.
    • At-home treatments. Soaking your feet in vinegar or other home remedies might relieve the symptoms of athlete’s foot; however, they might not stop a chronic case from coming back. 
    • A cleansing regimen. A good podiatrist will discuss how to keep future infections at bay through lifestyle changes, such as keeping your feet clean and dry on a daily basis.

    If your over-the-counter treatment for athlete’s foot isn’t working, the Philadelphia-area podiatrists at Healthmark Foot & Ankle Associates can help you kick the itch for good. Call our Media office at 610-565-3668 or our Phoenixville office at 610-933-8644 today to set up your first consultation.

    If you’d like to learn more about taking good care of your feet, order your FREE copy of our book The Foot Is Not an Island: Recognizing Vitamin D Deficiency & How to Correct It. Click the View Details button on this page to order your copy today.

  • What are bunion splints, and should I get one?

    A bunion splint is a plastic device used to straighten and realign your big toe. These splints generally have a holder for the big toe and a long support that extends along the bottom of the foot. The support holds the brace in place as the holder “pulls” the big toe away from the other toes, stretching the tendon and taking the pressure off the bunion joint.

    There are several different kinds of bunion splints, but they usually fall into two categories:

    1. Flexible splints. Flexible splints are usually made of fabric or elastic. They adjust to fit around the middle of your foot and secure the toe out and away from the rest of the foot with an elastic strap. These are often called “day splints” or “work splints” because they can be worn under socks and shoes.
    2. Hard splints. Hard splints are made from rigid, molded plastic and metal, and they are often used only at night, since the plastic is not intended to bear the weight of your body. Although ready-made rigid braces are available, our Philadelphia foot doctors can fit you with a custom-made rigid splint that will mold perfectly to your foot, so you will feel the least possible amount of discomfort while you heal.

    If you want to know how to get rid of bunions for good, see one of our trusted Philadelphia podiatrists at Healthmark Foot & Ankle Associates. Call our Media office at 610-565-3668 or our Phoenixville office at 610-933-8644 to set up a consultation.

    Want more information about proper foot care? Use the View Details button at the top of this page to request a FREE copy of our book, The Foot Is Not an Island: Recognizing Vitamin D Deficiency & How to Correct It.

  • I have diabetes. Are there any special socks or shoes I should get to protect my feet?

    You are right to be concerned about diabetes-related foot problems. Many people with diabetes do not realize that they are at increased risk for infection, nerve damage, or even amputation if their disease affects blood flow to their feet and toes.

    As Media foot specialists, we can offer some footwear recommendations for diabetics. There are no specific brands of shoes or socks that can guarantee the safety of your feet, of course, but you can give your feet extra protection by taking the following steps:

    • Always wear well-fitting slippers around the house. Slippers with rubber or leather soles prevent slipping and protect your feet from cuts and stubbed toes.
    • Wear socks with your shoes. Socks will help you avoid blisters and thereby decrease your risk for infection.
    • Wear comfortable shoes. Buy only shoes that have a low heel and are not too tight, and wear them around the house for an hour or so at a time when you first get them.
    • Inspect your footwear. Before you put on new shoes or socks, feel along the inside of the toe area and inside seams to make sure there are no rough edges or sharp objects that could cut or irritate your foot.

    At Healthmark Foot & Ankle Associates, our Phoenixville foot care professionals treat more than just your feet. We examine your overall health, including your diet, your lifestyle and what you’re doing to prevent injuries. That way, we can develop a course of treatment that works best for you.

    Our Philadelphia podiatrists would be happy to set up a consultation for you at either of our convenient locations. Call our Media office at 610-565-3668 or our Phoenixville office at 610-933-8644 to get started.

    You can also click on the View Details button at the top of this page to order a FREE copy of our book, The Foot Is Not an Island: Recognizing Vitamin D Deficiency & How to Correct It.

  • I heard a “pop” when I twisted my ankle. This means it’s broken, right?

    Not necessarily. Although it may seem strange, a popping sound is more commonly associated with an ankle sprain than an ankle fracture, leading many people to start their course of treatment quite literally on the wrong foot.

    Here are a few side-effects of an ankle injury that can be both sprained ankle and fracture symptoms:


    A “snapping” sound. It is common to hear a snapping or popping sound when one of the body’s joints is injured. A “pop” can indicate misalignment in an ankle, a knee, or a shoulder, without the presence of a fracture. 

    Pain. Many people assume that overwhelming pain indicates a broken bone in the ankle. However, since some sprains can cause more pain than fractures do, pain level is an ineffective way to diagnose the injury.

    Sensitivity. Being unable to stand, walk, put weight on the injured foot, or even touch the skin at the injury site can be signs of either a sprain or a break.

    Swelling. Both breaks and sprains can cause swelling in the ankle and leg.

    Bruising.While both a fracture and sprain can cause bruising, many patients with fractures won’t notice a bruise until their cast has been removed.


    The best way to determine the extent of your injury is with a physical examination and an X-ray to check for signs of fracture. If you are suffering from a severe ankle injury in the Philadelphia-area, Healthmark Foot & Ankle Associates can diagnose and treat your injury today at three of our convenient locations.

  • I think my child has flat feet. Should I still let him run around in his bare feet?

    We understand that you want the very best for your child’s feet. Many parents are concerned about fallen arches and flat feet—and a lot of blame is placed on barefoot running and the wearing of nonsupportive shoes, such as flip-flops.

    Your child’s feet are not yet fully developed, and so they might look much different from yours. Young children, in particular, have greater stores of fat on their feet for protection, and the tendons along their soles have not yet tightened to form an arch. Most children start to develop an arch when they are around 3 years old, but some take longer—and some will never fully develop a noticeable arch.

    If your child is complaining of pain along the bottom of his foot, you may want to schedule an appointment with a podiatrist to rule out tarsal coalition. This condition occurs when two or more of the bones in the foot have grown improperly and fused together. It can be corrected with rest and a cast, but in some extreme cases, your child could require surgery to resolve the problem. 

    If your child is not experiencing any pain or is not having problems walking, there probably is no need to correct his flat feet. Running, jumping, walking barefoot, and wearing flip-flops are not likely to inhibit his growth, cause his arches to fall, or make his flat feet any worse.

    If you want to know more about the causes of flat foot pain, contact the experienced Philadelphia podiatrists at Healthmark Foot & Ankle Associates. We will be happy to set up a consultation for you over the phoneat 610-565-3668 in Media or 610-933-8644 in Phoenixville.