Philadelphia Tri-state Area Podiatrists Answer Foot Health Questions
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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.
Is there a way to treat my child’s hammertoes at home?
Yes! Children often suffer painful hammertoes as a result of wearing shoes they’ve outgrown. Shoes that are too tight cause the feet to “bunch up” inside the shoes, and eventually the tendons in the toes remain contracted even when shoes are not worn.
Mild cases of hammertoe often can be remedied in a number of ways, including:
- Splinting. The toe is straightened and splinted to prevent recurrence; however, it is best to seek a Philadelphia podiatrist’s advice to see if this will be effective.
- Insoles, pads, and inserts. These products can help cushion the feet, hold the toes in more comfortable alignment, and/or relieve pressure while wearing shoes. Some can also prevent the joint of the bent toe from rubbing on the inside of the shoe.
- Exercises. If your child is able to move the affected toe without pain, encourage him to do exercises that will flex and stretch his toes, such as using his toes to crumple up a towel, or picking up a pencil or marbles from the floor with his toes.
- New shoes. Children go through growth spurts constantly, so it’s important to make sure they are wearing the correct size shoe. Choose shoes with wide toe boxes, and avoid higher heels (which place more weight and pressure on the toes).
It’s important that you take steps to correct this condition as soon as possible. While hammertoes are a correctable condition, they can easily lead to other, more serious problems—including foot deformities and joint problems—if left untreated.
The experienced Philadelphia-area foot specialists at Healthmark Foot & Ankle Associates can help you get your child’s feet back in good health again. Call us at 610-565-3668 in Media or 610-933-8644 in Phoenixville to set up your consultation.
Why am I more likely to suffer from heel pain if I am overweight?
There are several reasons why overweight individuals experience pain in the bottom of their feet. Most of these conditions are treatable, but it is important to discover why you are experiencing pain—something our Philadelphia foot and ankle doctors can help you with.
For instance, you may be suffering from:
- Plantar fasciitis. This condition is often caused by undue strain on the arch on the foot, causing increased pressure on the heel.
- A heel spur. These bony growths, which often develop as a result of plantar fasciitis, can cause pain in the heel while standing.
- Stress fractures. Overweight people who spend long hours on their feet are more likely to develop tiny cracks in the bones of the heel that can cause pain and swelling.
Many doctors recommend that obese people lose weight as part of their treatment for foot pain. However, the pain caused by obesity makes it doubly hard to exercise—especially first thing in the morning, when the pain is often worst.
It’s important that you seek immediate treatment for heel pain. The longer the condition continues, the more damage it can cause. Our podiatrists can work with you to find a solution that will work with your lifestyle and help you get back on your feet without the pain.
The Media podiatrists at Healthmark Foot & Ankle Associates have years of experience treating patients of all ages. Get started on your recovery today. Call us at 610-565-3668 in Media or 610-933-8644 in Phoenixville to begin your initial consultation.
Are there special socks I should get if I have (or am prone to) corns?
Some socks work better than others for preventing corns. It’s important to make sure the socks you wear fit well and allow your feet to breathe. The general rules for socks that relieve corn pressure are:
- Wear them! Many people opt to go sockless in the summertime—a prime reason they develop painful corns. Socks allow for padding between the shoe material and your foot; without it, your toes are likely to rub against the seams inside your shoes.
- Good material, small seams. Cotton or cotton-blend socks provide a good buffer for your toes, but make sure the top seam doesn’t rub against the top or sides of your foot. If necessary, you can turn your socks inside out to make them more comfortable while your corn heals.
- Stretch them out. Tight socks constrict the toes and make corns more painful, and they put you at risk for developing additional foot ailments.
- But don’t stretch them too much. Loose socks can bunch up inside the shoe, so make sure you’re wearing the proper size sock for your foot. You should be able to comfortably wiggle your toes inside your shoe without bunching the sock.
- Separate your toes. If your toes are unusually shaped, there is a greater chance they will rub together and cause corns. There are special socks for corns that separate the toes and allow your feet to heal, but these are usually worn underneath another pair of socks.
At Healthmark Foot & Ankle Associates, our Phoenixville podiatrists can help get you back on your feet, starting with an over-the-phone consultation. Call us at 610-565-3668 in Media or 610-933-8644 in Phoenixville to make an appointment today.
I had an infection between my toes, but it looks a lot better now. Can I stop taking the medicine my Philadelphia doctor prescribed for athlete’s foot?
No! There are many reasons you should continue taking your medication for athlete’s foot for as long as it was prescribed, including:
- Contagion. As you’ve probably realized, athlete’s foot is highly contagious. Even if you think your infection is cleared up, you may easily give it to someone else by sharing shoes or walking in a public area in your bare feet.
- Recurrence. Your condition may look and feel as though it’s completely gone, but as long as fungus is still present it can regrow and come back—meaning you’ll probably need treatment all over again.
- Avoiding a chronic condition. A good foot and ankle doctor in Philadelphia should not only prescribe medication, but also help you understand how you can prevent similar infections in the future. Our Phoenixville podiatrists will give you hygiene tips and suggest home treatments if you see the signs of another infection.
At Healthmark Foot & Ankle Associates, we provide comprehensive care for our patients, including treatment for temporary and chronic ailments, lifestyle tips, and corrective procedures that will literally get you back on your feet. We have two locations in Philadelphia, making it convenient for all of our patients to get the care they need.
Call us at 610-565-3668 for a consultation at our Media office or 610-933-8644 for our Phoenixville office. You can also click the link on this page to order our FREE book The Foot Is Not an Island: Recognizing Vitamin D Deficiency & How to Correct It.
What can I do to relieve at least some of the pain caused by my flat feet?
Trying to explain the pain of flat feet to outsiders is difficult, since flat feet are not typically considered an acute medical problem. If you live with a chronic pain, day-in and day-out, you know firsthand that the experience can be debilitating.
Here are tips for regulating your pain:
- Schedule an appointment with a Pennsylvania podiatrist as soon as possible. Simple fixes—such as a change in footwear, a stretching regimen, or even a simple surgery—may eliminate your chronic agony and inflammation for good.
- Improve your diet and exercise regimen. When you’re metabolically healthy, your immune system functions better, and your whole body tends to be more resilient to the trials and tribulations of the day. For instance, you might want to consider cutting back on sugary junk foods to lose weight and normalize your blood sugar. Whole-body stress relief can also have a profound influence on the health of the muscles, tendons, and ligaments in your feet and the rest of your body. When you’re under a lot of stress, you secrete a lot of a hormone called cortisol. In excess, cortisol can lead to problems like inflammation and the formation of painful muscle knots in the feet and elsewhere.
- Rest and get massage. Safe massage combined with lots of good rest—including a good night's sleep—not only can help your foot directly, but also it can also help your whole body recover from stress and trauma.
- Keep a “flat foot journal.” What are the triggers that cause you the most flat-foot related pain? One great way to find out is to keep a journal of your foot pain and to review that journal on a weekly basis to identify patterns. What activities in your life really stress your feet? What actions make them feel better? As you recognize your patterns better, you will learn to avoid “stresses” on your feet and do more of what makes them feel better.
For help, connect with the team here at Healthmark Foot & Ankle Associates. For a free consultation, call 610-565-3668 now.
Should I treat my corns myself with salicylic acid?
After all, your local neighborhood drug store likely carries products that contain a special compound called salicylic acid, which has the potential to dissolve the dead skin and keratin that comprise your corn. Moreover, corns—even painful, debilitating ones—may seem "self-treatable."
But self-treating corns—by using salicylic acid or other over-the-counter therapies—can be ineffective and even dangerous.
For instance, salicylic acid can burn away the keratin and unwanted tissue…as well as other healthy parts of your foot! The acid burn can thus set the stage for severe infection. If your immune system is already compromised—if, for instance, you have metabolic syndrome, or peripheral arterial disease or some other compromising condition—then a simple trip to drug store gone wrong can lead to life-threatening secondary complications.
Here's another thing to remember: corns are often symptomatic of larger problems that your podiatrist can help you address.
For instance, you might be wearing the wrong type of shoes for your work. Or you might suffer from a genetic bone deformation or other structural problem with your feet that, if left unaddressed, will continue to cause you problems (and cost you money) over the longer term.
The podiatrists here at the Healthmark Foot & Ankle Associates in Philadelphia can help you develop a strategic “battle plan” not only to resolve your current corn problems, but also to keep your feet healthy and beautiful for a long time going forward.
Sometimes in life, the path of least resistance is actually the most fraught and expensive path. Yes, you may have a drugstore just down the street. It might be easier to go grab a “quick-fix” solution at your pharmacist's shop. But if you really want to understand and solve your corns for good, give our team a call at 610-565-3668.
What can working professionals do to reduce the likelihood of heel spurs?
Whether you're a working Orlando mother afflicted with heel spurs, and every day is a struggle; or you're a recovering foot surgery patient who wants to avoid similar agony in the future, here are tips for treating your feet well, even if you have a lot on your plate:
- Invest in better shoes. Tight fitting shoes can, over time, lead to the development of bone spurs and damage to the plantar fascia. Especially if you're on your feet all day as a waitress or a manual laborer, your choice of footwear can make a substantial impact on your foot health. You might not feel or notice a difference right away. But heel spurs don’t form overnight, so err on the side of caution!
- Keep a journal of your symptoms. Calcium deposits and strains on the fibrous tissue on the bottom of your feet develop slowly over time. But the warning signs can come early. Be an attentive patient. Consider journaling your state of health and vigor before and after your shifts. Write in your pain journal every day, to determine what activities or movements put you in the most discomfort. By noticing your own patterns—what works for your body and what just doesn’t—you can take strategic action to protect your body and your feet.
For instance, after reviewing your journal, you might notice that the long shifts hit you the hardest. So you could insist to your boss that you need to take more regular breaks.
Get in touch with a board-certified Pennsylvania podiatrist at the first sign of a trouble. Don’t wait until heel spurs have become painfully debilitating to get them checked out. The team here at Healthmark Foot & Ankle Associates can provide an integrated, compassionate, and thorough evaluation of your heel spur or other foot problem. Call our offices today at 610-565-3668.
How can you deal with the pain and agony of hammertoe?
Resolving a serious case of hammertoe can be a profoundly difficult task, even if you’re working with a board-certified Pennsylvania podiatrist. In general, the longer and harsher the insult to the muscles and ligaments of the toe, the more painful the healing process will be. Other factors that can influence the amount of pain you’ll experience include your general level of health and fitness; the existence (or absence) of confounding health problems, such as immune diseases or obesity; and your own personal, subjective pain threshold.
Two ways to think of pain: short-term and long-term
Human beings have a peculiar relationship with the phenomenon of pain. Specifically, we ardently work to avoid acute sources of pain—if you break your leg or get shot, you’ll immediately seek help. On the other hand, we often tolerate chronic pain that, if aggregated, would be more unbearable than any single acute type of pain imaginable.
For instance, say you "summed up" all the agony caused by an untreated hammertoe over a six-month period of time, and you compared that “total pain” with the total pain of a gunshot wound or broken leg. Odds are, the subtle chronic hammertoe pain would probably be greater in magnitude.
Resolving the agony for good
Multiple steps can be taken to eliminate or at least reduce the agony. For instance, you can improve your footwear—the toe boxes on women’s high heels are notorious for cramping the toes and awkwardly contorting the muscles and ligaments.
You can also manage your blood sugar and inflammation issues better. Diabetes and other similar diseases have a clear and clinical impact on foot health: treatment of diabetic neuropathy can be critical to pain relief.
Get an integrated diagnosis to rule out other possible problems. If you suffer from blood clotting problems, rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, or other similar conditions, you may need to treat those underlying conditions to resolve the pain.
Don’t diagnose yourself. Get effective and experienced help with your foot pain
The team here at Healthmark Foot & Ankle Associates consists of three full-time board-certified Philadelphia-area podiatrists. We can explain what to do—and what not to do—to help you get better and manage issues associated with your hammertoe. Call us now at 610-565-3668.
Why is it so important to wear flip-flops in the locker room or sauna at the gym?
Locker rooms, saunas, indoor and outdoor pools and any other damp, warm public places are breeding grounds for the fungus that causes Athlete’s Foot. This foot infection is not only painful, but it is also highly contagious.
So if you want to avoid contracting an Athlete’s Foot infection that causes burning and itching, along with dry, cracked feet, you might want to think twice about walking around barefoot at the local gym. Make sure to bring flip-flops with you, and wear them the moment you pull off your gym socks. They should be worn when walking to and from the pool and even in the sauna and shower.
Carpeted areas in a locker room are also never completely free from the risks of Athlete’s Foot. The fungus can breed deep in the fibers of carpet and other fabric mats, as well as on rubber surfaces.
It is also important not to let anyone else use your flip-flops or other sandals, even if they are family members living in the same household. Athlete’s Foot does not care if you are married or have children. The infection can spread quickly among those living in the same household using the same swimming pool, shower, or floors, so if one person is fighting the fungus, the other members of the household should take heed and steer clear of sharing.
Need more tips on how to avoid contracting Athlete’s Foot? Look no further than the Philadelphia podiatrists at Healthmark Foot and Ankle Associates. Simply call them today at 610-565-3668 to schedule an appointment or to order your free copy of their book, The Foot is Not An Island.