Diabetic Foot Care Advice

The aim of this blog is to help members of the public to understand their feet better. However the information on this blog should never be regarded as medical advice. Readers with foot problems are strongly encouraged to visit their GP if not the podiatrist for further medical assessment and treatment.

If you think you might need specialised or orthopedic shoes, click here.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Are You Having Cold Feet?

Cold feet occurs when the very small arteries in the feet go into spasms and constrict the blood flow to the various tissues. It is commonly happening for women who suffer from the benign genetic condition known as Raynaud's disease.

Cold feet is also a symptom that occurs when other factors, such as external temperature, caffeine, and tobacco, irritate the arteries in the feet.

Mild cases of cold feet can be treated with wearing warm socks, toe warmers, and precaution. However please consult your physician if your toes turn black or dusky blue, having persistant pain for more than 2 hours, or if red toes does not turn back to your natural skin colour when pressure is applied to them.

So becareful if you think that your feet are feeling cold all the time. Check with your podiatrist as soon as possible.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome

Pain on the inside of the ankle or bottom of the foot could be caused by tarsal tunnel syndrome. The pain associated with tarsal tunnel syndrome is typically a burning or shooting pain. It may also cause numbness or a tingling sensation.

Tarsal tunnel syndrome is similar to the more widely known carpal tunnel syndrome that affects the hands and wrists. The tarsal tunnel is located on the inside of the ankle. The nerves to the foot run through the tarsal tunnel. When these nerves are compressed, tarsal tunnel syndrome can develop. Tendons, arteries, and veins are also contained in the tarsal tunnel.

Tarsal tunnel syndrome can have a sudden onset. It may be caused by overuse, such as extended periods of walking or standing. It may also be triggered by vigorous exercise. Tarsal tunnel syndrome can be aggravated by the beginning of a new exercise routine.

Individuals with an outward tilt to their stance are more susceptible to developing tarsal tunnel syndrome. Therefore, those with fallen arches are more at risk for this disorder. Tarsal tunnel syndrome may also be caused by pressure exerted on the nerves in the tarsal tunnel. Cysts, varicose veins, arthritic spurs, or a swollen tendon can compromise the space of the tarsal tunnel.

An injury can cause tarsal tunnel syndrome. If an injury, such as an ankle sprain, causes swelling, the swelling could compress the nerves of the tarsal tunnel. Other diseases that can cause swelling, such as diabetes, can cause tarsal tunnel syndrome in the same manner. Being overweight can increase a person’s risk of developing the disorder.

Because the foot pain could have other causes, a physician must diagnose the condition. Early diagnosis and treatment for tarsal tunnel syndrome is highly recommended. If left untreated, tarsal tunnel syndrome can cause permanent nerve damage.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Plantar Fasciitis Stretching Exercises

Plantar fasciitis is a painful condition caused by inflammation of the ligament that connects the heel to the base of the toes. One non-invasive treatment for plantar fasciitis is to do exercises that stretch the Achilles tendon, calf, and plantar fascia. You may want to warm up a little before doing plantar fasciitis stretches.

One warm up is to take steps on a flight of stairs. One stretch begins by standing approximately two feet away from a wall. The person should lean against the wall. Bending one leg comfortably, the person should straighten the other leg, placing it about six inches behind them with the heel on the floor. They should hold the stretch for about ten seconds. The person should feel the stretch of the Achilles tendon in the straightened leg. They should switch positions and stretch the other leg.

The stretch should be repeated twenty times. Another stretch of the plantar fasciitis begins with the person’s toes against the wall with heels on the floor. They should bring their hips closer to the wall so that their feet is at a forty-five degree angle. This exercise stretches the calf and the plantar fascia.

A third exercise can be done while sitting in a chair. The person should rest the ankle of the injured foot on the knee of the opposite leg. They should gently push the toes backward until they feel a slight pull or stretch in the bottom of their foot.

Another plantar fasciitis exercise begins with leaning forward onto a countertop. The person’s feet should be spread apart with one foot in front of the other. Keeping their heels on the floor, they should squat and hold the stretch for ten seconds and relax.

If pain is experienced in the morning as is common with plantar fasciitis, the person can do a simple exercise before getting out of bed. The person should lie on their back. They should use their big toes to write the letters of the alphabet in the air. After writing the alphabet, they should stretch the plantar fascia by gently raising their big toes towards their shins.

Recommended: Plantar Fasciitis Night Splints, Best Shoes For Plantar Fasciitis And Heel Cushions

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Herbal Remedies For Athlete's Foot

Herbal remedies are alternative treatments that use plants and plant extracts. Therefore, herbal remedies for athlete’s foot contain only plant-based ingredients. Home remedies for athlete’s foot often use plant extracts, but also use other ingredients such as Epsom salts.

Ginger is one herbal remedy for athlete’s foot. Ginger contains caprylic acid. This natural acid fights fungal infections. To prepare a herbal remedy using ginger, one ounce of crushed ginger is added to a cup of boiling water. This mixture should simmer for twenty minutes. After the mixture has cooled, it can be applied directly to the affected area.

One powerful anti-fungal herb is licorice. Licorice contains twenty-five fungicidal compounds. In addition to athlete’s foot, it has been used to treat ringworm. To make a strong licorice tonic, add five to seven teaspoons of dried licorice to a cup of boiling water. The mixture should be brought to a boil and simmered for twenty minutes. The licorice tonic can be applied to the athlete’s foot infection.

Chamomile is a member of the ragweed family. Chamomile oil can be used alone or mixed with tea tree oil. If the person is allergic to ragweed, it should be used cautiously or not at all. If it is used by someone with an allergy, the person should watch the area of application after a small amount is applied. The person should wait a few days to judge if an allergic reaction has occurred before reapplying.

Goldenseal has an antifungal and an antibacterial agent. It can be used as an antibiotic. Goldenseal is available as a tincture or it can be made into a tonic by adding five to seven teaspoons of dried goldenseal to a cup of boiling water. When making the tonic, the mixture should simmer for twenty minutes. After it cools, it should be applied to the affected area three times a day.

Lemongrass tea can be consumed or used lemongrass tea bags can be applied to the affected area as a compress. Tomato sauce with herbs can be used as an antifungal treatment for athlete’s foot. Generous amounts of basil, celery, carrot, dill, fennel, sage, and thyme can be added to a sauce made from tomatoes. The feet can soak in the sauce or people with athlete’s foot can place the sauce between their toes.

Must have: Shoe Deodorizer

Friday, August 29, 2008

Home Remedies For Ingrown Toenails

Ingrown toenails can be extremely painful. The big toe is usually affected. Toenails that are curved are more prone to developing ingrown toenails. Cutting toenails straight across and avoiding cutting them too short will help prevent ingrown toenails.

If an ingrown toenail develops, there are some home remedies that provide relief for some sufferers. One home remedy starts by soaking the foot in salt water for half an hour. After the soak, gently use a tweezers to pry the nail over the skin in which it is embedded. A small piece of gauze or cotton should be wedged between the nail and the broken skin so that about a third of the gauze or cotton extends beyond the injury.

This process should be repeated every day until the nail is safely growing over the skin. The cotton or gauze should be changed frequently, as leaving such a bandage in place for an extended period of time could cause a bacterial infection.

Some home remedies for ingrown toenails involve lemons. Applying a small wedge of lemon against the toe, securing it with a bandage or medical tape, and covering it with a sock overnight is said to make the nail pliable enough to allow the person to free the nail from the skin. Another lemon remedy is to submerge the toe in half a lemon overnight before attempting to free the toenail from the skin.

Some suggest keeping a strip of waxed dental floss between the toenail and the affected skin. Remember to change it frequently to reduce the risk of infection. Smoothing the edges of the toenail with a file is mentioned in some home remedy. The idea is to make the nail less sharp and somewhat less likely to cut into the skin of the toe. If home remedies fail to provide relief, seek medical attention.

Recommended: Ingrown Toenail Clipper, Ingrown Toenail File And Ingrown Toenails Treatment

Monday, August 18, 2008

Bovine DNA Treatment Tested For Diabetic Foot Ulcers

A new treatment for the troublesome diabetic foot is being tested in Las Vegas, Nevada. The treatment is a topical gel that stimulates the growth of new blood vessels and tissue. The gel is called Excellarate.

People with diabetes are prone to developing foot ulcers. Due to the loss of sensation that often accompanies diabetes, the ulcer or sore may get bad before it is even noticed. The poor circulation that diabetics often experience makes the healing process slow. Ulcers that fail to heal leave the wound susceptible to infection.

In cases where the infection becomes severe, the foot has to be amputated. Up to twenty-five percent of diabetics who develop foot ulcers will have to have the foot amputated. Therefore, regular inspections of the foot to check for sores are extremely important for diabetics. If a sore is noticed and treated early, it is less likely to cause significant problems than those sore that go unnoticed and become infected.

Excellarate is on clinical trial to test the effectiveness it has in promoting healing for diabetics with foot sores. Excellarate is made from bovine DNA attached to a form of the flu virus. Bovine refers to originating from cows or oxen. Excellarate is also called GAM501. GAM stands for gene activated matrix. The DNA in the medication activates cell growth which would aid the healing process for diabetics with foot ulcers.

It could take four more years for clinical trials to be complete. Diabetic patients who are at least eighteen years old and have had a foot ulcer for six weeks or more may be eligible to participate in the clinical trial. Participants in the clinical study must also be taking insulin or other medication to control their diabetes and be willing to wear a protective shoe during the clinical trial.

Recommended: Peripheral Neuropathy Footwear, Diabetic Foot Cream, Other Diabetic Foot Supplies And Special Diabetic Socks

Friday, August 15, 2008

Salon Pedicure Safety

Pedicures should not lead to health problems, but unsanitary conditions can expose a salon client to infection. The possible diseases that a salon client can be exposed to include nail fungus, hepatitis, tuberculosis, and staph infection. Most infections acquired from pedicures are due to contaminated foot baths.

In the United States, states regulate the sanitation practices of nail salons. Some previously used practices are now banned by government regulations. The use of razors during pedicures is now considered too risky. Cutting cuticles is also considered a high risk practice as it can expose the client to infections.

A new client should consider asking the staff of the salon to disclose their sanitation practices. If the salon practices fail to meet the client’s expectations, a client should search for a salon that meets those expectations.

When entering a nail salon, there are some clues about the sanitation that are readily apparent. Though a dirty nail salon is a clear warning sign, overall cleanliness does not guarantee that the salon is safe.

A responsible nail salon disinfects the tools and the foot tubs and their filtering components between clients. Recommended sanitary practices for nail salons include the use of hospital-grade disinfectants. Filters for whirlpool foot tubs are typically recommended to be soaked in disinfectant for ten minutes after each use.

Items that are disposable should be thrown away after use. Nail files, foot files, and pumice stones should never be used on more than one client. Towels should never be reused on different clients without being washed. If a client witnesses the reuse of these items or signs of intention of reuse such as placing a used nail file in the drawer, they should deem the salon unsanitary and go elsewhere for their pedicures.

A pedicure should not risk the clients’ health. With proper sanitation practices, the risk of infection is minimal.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Recovery From Hammertoe Surgery

Hammertoe occurs when the joints of the toe become abnormally contracted. The toes become bent and deformed. This deformed position often starts with some flexibility remaining. Over time, the bent toes may become rigid. Though noninvasive treatments are normally attempted first, sometimes surgery is necessary to correct hammertoe.

Following surgery, the patient may be fitted with a post-operative shoe. The post-operative shoe is an orthotic device that has a stiff sole to protect the toes by restricting any bending movement of the foot. The foot should remain bandaged for about a week following the procedure.

The surgeon is likely to instruct the patient to restrict activity during the first two weeks of recovery. The use of crutches may be recommended to reduce the amount of pressure on the healing toes. Some pain and swelling is common following hammertoe surgery. The surgeon may prescribe the use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) to help alleviate pain and swelling. Elevating the foot is commonly recommended.

If stitches have to be removed, the removal usually occurs between ten and fourteen days after the hammertoe surgery. This is unnecessary if the surgeon used dissolvable stitches. Any metal pins that were used to realign the toes and hold them in their new position are usually removed after three or four weeks following the procedure.

The swelling gradually subsides. More than half of the patients recovering from hammertoe surgery are able to wear regular, wide shoes within six weeks after surgery. The feet often begin to feel normal three months after surgery. If a surgical pin was used, it may take longer to be able to wear shoes as shoes cannot be worn until after the pin is removed.

As with most surgeries, infection and complications can happen. The surgeon will provide instructions on what to do if the patient experiences any symptoms of infection.

Orthotics for hammertoes

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Complications Of Hammertoe Surgery

Hammertoe is a condition in which the toes become deformed, becoming abnormally bent. Hammertoe surgery is a common treatment method for hammertoe. It rarely causes complications. As with any surgery, it is important for the patient to follow the postoperative instructions given by the surgeon. Pain and some swelling is common following surgery, but it gradually subsides after the first night following surgery. Sometimes, the patient’s treated toes develop more severe effects from the surgery.

Swollen toe, sometimes called “sausage toe,” is the most common complication from hammertoe surgery. This swelling is often caused by damage to the lymphatic or circulatory system during surgery. Some swelling can be expected following surgery. The physician may suggest taping or strapping to prevent or control troublesome swelling. The swelling usually subsides on its own within six months following surgery.

Malpositioning of the toes is another complication of hammertoe surgery. Unlike swelling, malpositioning often causes long-term problems. Malpositioning of the toes during hammertoe surgery can be caused by excessive shortening or excessive straightening of one or more toes.

Excessive straightening is the most common malpositioning complication. Excessive straightening of the toe can cause that toe to become irritated by the other toes. The straightened toe can develop mallet toe or a reverse swan neck deformity.

Another complication is referred to as “floppy toe.” In the case of floppy toe, the patient experiences discomfort especially when putting on socks. It causes a feeling of a loss of function of the toe. Floppy toe is caused by excessive bony resection. Floppy toe may be able to be corrected with surgery. In some cases, the floppy toe may need to be amputated.

Infection can occur at the surgical site. Common signs of infection include fever and inflammation. The patient should notify the physician if they experience signs of infection or if they experience any other complications.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Soft Corns

Corns are a buildup of hardened skin that forms as a protection from friction or pressure. Hard corns and soft corns are two types of corns. Hard corns are most common. Hard corns often form on the tops or tips of the toes and are usually due to ill-fitting shoes. Soft corns usually form between the toes.

Soft corns are sometimes called “kissing corns” or heloma molle. Unlike hard corns, soft corns consist of whitish, moist skin and may be pea-sized. These usually form between the fourth and fifth toes. Soft corns can be caused by an abnormality of the toe bones. If left untreated, soft corns are at risk of infection and can form small, open sores.

Both hard and soft corns are painful. They can be treated by over-the-counter corn treatments. Some people find relief by placing a foam wedge or small piece of lamb’s wool between the fourth and fifth toes to alleviate some of the pressure. Arch supports may help alleviate some of the pressure between the toes by shifting the distribution of pressure on the foot. If a soft corn is caused by an irregularity of the toe bones, this cause needs to be addressed with a podiatrist in order to stop soft corns from recurring.

Shoes that are too narrow or have pointy toes may aggravate the condition. Wearing shoes with wide toe boxes and cotton socks is recommended. Some people suggest the application of antibiotic ointment to the area of the soft corn.

It can be difficult to tell if the painful white skin is a soft corn or a symptom of severe athlete’s foot. A physician needs to examine a soft corn to determine the underlying cause and the best treatment for the soft corn. The over-the-counter corn treatments will often remove the corn, but if there if the cause is not addressed, it will return.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Over-The-Counter Corn Treatments

Corns are hardened, raised bumps of skin that commonly occur on the toes in response to pressure or friction. Ill-fitting shoes, excessive time spent standing or walking, being flat-footed, and advanced age can be contributing factors for developing corns.

There are over-the-counter treatments available to treat corns. Over-the-counter remedies for corns usually contain acid that attacks the hardened skin of the corn. Keep in mind that the acid may also damage the surrounding, healthy skin. Be careful to follow the directions to minimize any such damage.

Corn pads or corn cushions without acid are used to protect the corn from any additional friction from shoes. They are foam, donut-shaped cushions. They will not remove the corn, but they can prevent it from getting worse.

Corn plasters are over-the-counter corn treatments. They are felt pads that contain an acid, often salicylic acid. Before applying a corn plaster, the person may want to jumpstart the treatment by soaking the foot for at least ten minutes, then removing some of the hard skin by rubbing the corn with a pumice stone. The foot should be dried thoroughly before the corn removal pad is applied.

Though over-the-counter treatments may eliminate the corn, it is likely to recur unless the cause has been addressed. If the corn was caused by friction from ill-fitting shoes and the person continues to wear shoes that don’t fit properly, the corn is likely to return. If the corn was caused by hammertoe, that deformity needs to be corrected by a podiatrist in order to stop corns from forming.

People with diabetes or atherosclerosis should avoid attempting to remedy foot problems on their own. They should seek medical attention for foot problems. Some doctors warn against the use of over-the-counter corn removers due to risk of infection or injury to healthy skin.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Arch Strain

Arch strain is characterized by pain or a burning sensation in the arch of the foot. Arch strain can be caused by injury to the foot or a structural imbalance. It can be caused by another condition such as plantar fasciitis, flat feet, or tarsal tunnel syndrome. Plantar fasciitis is a painful condition affecting the plantar fascia, which is fibrous connective tissue on the bottom of the foot that runs from the heel to the ball of the foot.

Obesity and a sudden increase in foot activity can be causes of arch strain. It is important to warm up before increased activity to prevent strains. Wearing improper shoes can be a contributing factor. One symptom of arch strain is difficulty standing tiptoe. A person with a strained arch often feels tenderness in the inner soles of the foot.

Treatment of arch strain is focused on allowing the plantar fascia to heal properly. Rest and avoiding high heels are highly recommended. A podiatrist may prescribe the use of an orthotic to ease the pressure on the plantar fascia. Wearing supportive shoes, like athletic shoes, can encourage healing.

Ice packs can help alleviate inflammation at the onset of the arch pain. Ice packs should not be applied directly to the skin. Heating pads are sometimes used, especially if there is no swelling. Over-the-counter non-steroidal, anti-inflammatory medication can help reduce pain and inflammation. Over-the-counter arch-supporting insoles may provide some relief. If pain persists, the person with arch pain should seek care from a physician.

A physician may order x-rays to check for the presence of heel spurs. The physician may tape the arch to give it support while healing and restrict foot movement. Exercises may be suggested. Persistent arch pain could indicate problems with the foot, such as arthritis or damaged nerves, which require medical attention.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Surgery For Hammertoe

Hammertoe refers to a condition that causes the toes to become unnaturally bent. Hammertoe affects the smaller toes of the foot, not the big toe. This condition can be painful when shoes are worn due to friction on the tops of the bent toes. It can also cause pain if the bones of the toes to become dislocated.

Surgery is often the recommended treatment for hammertoe. Mild cases may be treated with orthotics, but moderate to severe cases may require surgical intervention. The surgery to correct hammertoes is done under local anesthesia as an outpatient surgical procedure. Typically, the surgery lasts approximately fifteen minutes per toe.

Before surgery, the podiatrist will determine which surgical intervention is best suited for the condition. There are many different surgeries designed to treat hammertoes. The rigidity of the toes that developed hammertoe is one consideration in determining which surgical intervention is appropriate.

If the hammertoe still has some flexibility, tendon release surgery may be performed. Tendon release is a surgery during which the tendon of the toe is repositioned in order to loosen the tension on the toe joint. If the tendon is released and not repositioned, the procedure is called a tenotomy.

Arthroplasty and fusion are surgical methods to treat rigid hammertoes. During an arthroplasty, part of the affected toe joint is removed. The toe is straightened. The joint may be replaced with an implant. Without the implant, the bones of the toe become connected with scar tissue while healing. This allows the treated toe to regain some flexibility.

Fusion is a surgical procedure during which some cartilage and some bone are removed. Once the toe is straightened, it is held in position with a surgical pin. The pin is temporary and will be removed after several weeks.

Each surgery for hammertoe allows the person to bear weight on the foot following the procedure. It is important to follow the surgeon’s aftercare instructions to allow the toes to heal properly.

Research On Effectiveness Of Custom Orthotics

Recent research has been conducted to evaluate the effectiveness of custom-made orthotics to relieve foot pain. Eleven studies conducted by Australian researchers concluded that custom-made orthotic devices helped alleviate certain types of foot pain. One such study found that custom orthotics for the shoes eased the foot pain experienced by people who had abnormally high arches.

Custom orthotic devices differ from over-the-counter orthotics and insoles in that custom orthotics are prescribed by a physician. The physician captures a model of the patient’s foot, either with a plaster cast or a scanning device, such as the Xtremityscan. This allows the device to offer the best possible support for that individual.

The effectiveness of custom-made orthotics to ease pain has been studied for plantar fasciitis, high arches, rheumatoid arthritis, and bunions. The ability of orthotics to alleviate pain from plantar fasciitis is considered limited by a recent study. The level of pain relief was found to be better if the use of orthotics for shoes is combined with wearing night splints at night for the treatment of plantar fasciitis.

The research has indicated that custom-made orthotics provide the most effective pain relief from pain caused by high arches. It was noted, however, that not every patient with high arches will receive significant relief from pain with the use of orthotics. Custom-made orthotics has been shown to provide relief of pain due to bunions, though they are not as effective as surgical intervention.

One study indicated that custom-made orthotics ease the foot pain of those afflicted with juvenile idiopathic arthritis which is a form of arthritis that affects children. The study failed to show if custom-made orthotics were more effective than over-the-counter insoles.

Though the effectiveness of custom-made orthotics varied depending on the condition causing the pain, research has shown that the use of orthotics was better than no treatment.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Fish Pedicures

Fish pedicures are foot soaks in a tub that contains small fish called garra rufa or doctor fish. The small fish are a species of carp. They are toothless and nibble on the dead skin on the feet. This is a replacement of the traditional razor treatment previously used to remove dead skin. Razor treatments have been deemed unsanitary by many states’ regulations.

This spa treatment is new to the United States. They have begun offering them in spas in the Washington D.C. area. Fish pedicures were initially used in Turkey and have become popular in some Asian countries. In March 2006, a few Japanese resorts and spas began to offer doctor fish spa treatments which include foot and hand soaks.

Clients report that the fish pedicures cause a tickle or tingling sensation as if the foot is asleep. After the feet are soaked in the tank containing about one hundred little carp, a traditional pedicure is administered to finish the foot care regimen. The cost of the fish pedicures range from $35 to $50.

Garra rufa are native to hot springs in Turkey. Since the doctor fish live in warm water that does not support plant life, they are accustomed to eating whatever is available. They eat the dry, dead skin on the feet, but do not harm healthy tissue. Garra rufa are different from the tench fish known as “doctor fish” in the U.K.

Doctor fish have been used to treat psoriasis and rheumatism. Immersing the body in a pool of small fish can provide a natural exfoliation treatment of the exposed and submerged skin.
People have visited the hot springs of the Kangal district in Turkey for treatment of psoriasis, abscesses, and skin conditions. Some people who have significant build up of dry skin have experienced minor bleeding while bathing in the hot springs. However, the minerals of the spring water are said to promote healing.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Foot Exercises

Foot exercises are recommended to promote healthy circulation. Exercising the feet and leg muscles throughout the day can prevent tension, cramps, and aches in the legs and feet. If you are sitting for extended periods of time, drop a few pens or pencils on the floor and pick them up one by one with your toes. Also while sitting, rest the ankle of one foot on the knee of the opposite leg. Gently push the toes backward until you feel a stretch in the bottom of your foot. Relax and repeat with the other foot.

If your feet feel tense during the day, shake them. Shake one foot at a time, then relax and flex your toes upwards before relaxing. Then, flex them downwards. Rotating the feet in circles can help. While seated in a chair, remove your shoes and lift your legs so that the thighs are slightly raised from the chair. Rotate the ankles to create clockwise circles with the feet. Do that several times, then, rotate the feet in the counter-clockwise direction.

Rolling the feet over a tennis ball can help stretch the muscles of the arches. If the feet are sore, you may want to try a plastic tennis ball tube container containing ice. Simply fill an empty tennis ball tube with water and freeze. Roll the feet back and forth over the tennis ball container.

For an Achilles tendon stretch, stand about two feet away from a wall. Lean forward against the wall. With one leg bent comfortably, straighten the other leg, placing it about six inches behind you. Lower the heel of the back foot to the floor. Hold for several seconds. Switch positions and stretch the other leg. Repeat twenty times. This exercise should be done as a gentle stretch of the Achilles tendon in the extended leg. The Achilles tendon is the tendon that is above the heel in the back of the foot.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Foot Odor

Foot odor is caused by bacteria. The medical name for foot odor is bromhidrosis.This bacteria flourishes in the dampness created by the lack of ventilation in shoes and socks. The feet have thousands of sweat glands. The perspiration secreted by these sweat glands is composed of water, sodium chloride, fat, minerals, and acids. The bacteria break down the perspiration which results in foot odor.

There are several home remedies for problematic foot odor. Washing the feet daily with antibacterial soap and wearing shoes and socks that are of natural fibers which allow for proper ventilation can solve most cases of foot odor. Some people find it helpful to avoid wearing the same shoes every day. Alternating shoes allows the shoes to dry out thoroughly which prevents the buildup of dampness in the shoes.

If additional treatment is needed, a salt foot soak is one home remedy for foot odor. Soaking the feet in a combination of kosher salt and water will encourage the feet to be dry. However, it can also dry out the skin. If dry skin develops, either from the salt foot soak or use of antibacterial soap, reduce the frequency of use and apply moisturizer at night.

One way to fight food odor is to decrease the amount of perspiration that the feet produce. Stress increases sweating, so deep breathing and relaxation methods could actually help alleviate foot odor. Some people use antiperspirants on their feet to control foot odor. Antiperspirants reduce the amount of perspiration, thus reducing the perspiration available to the bacteria.

There are some over-the-counter foot powders that may provide some relief. Some powders can be applied directly to the feet. Other powders are for application to the shoes. There are also antifungal sprays for the shoes. If the shoes retain odor after being worn, they should be washed, if possible, then allowed to dry thoroughly before being treated with a spray.

Even though foot odor is a common problem, it is often a source of embarrassment. Someone experiencing foot odor should see improvement in the condition if they use these treatment methods. If the condition persists, a doctor should be consulted.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

R.I.C.E. Therapy For Overuse Injuries

Overuse injuries, sprains, and strains commonly affect the feet and ankles. If you suffer an overuse injury, there is an acronym that can help you remember the proper treatment for such injuries. R.I.C.E. therapy is an acronym to help you remember the steps for treatment that can help reduce swelling and promote healing of overuse injuries, sprains, and strains.

R.I.C.E. therapy stands for rest, ice, compression, elevation. Rest is appropriate to allow the joint and affected muscles to heal. Activity should be reduces as much as possible following such an injury. It is recommended that the person with a sprained or strained ankle avoids putting much weight on the injury, especially for the first forty-eight hours.

Ice should be applied to the injury as soon as possible. Ice should be applied in twenty-minute intervals and should not be applied directly to the skin. The ice should be applied several times a day. A physician can give directions on the precise routine that the patient should follow.

A compression bandage is often used to help reduce swelling. An ace bandage is commonly used for foot and ankle injuries. Some sprains required more immobilization. A removable cast may be used. The doctor will suggest the appropriate level of care.

The injured foot or ankle should be elevated above the level of the heart. This helps reduce swelling. R.I.C.E. therapy is largely focused on reducing swelling of the injury. In many cases, an over-the-counter pain reliever such as a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) is suggested.

If the injury is minor, following R.I.C.E. therapy and using NSAIDs may be all that is necessary. However, it is strongly recommended that the injury be examined by a physician, especially if bruising occurs. A black and blue bruise can indicate that a bone is broken instead of a joint sprain.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Foot Baths

Foot baths, or foot soaks, are used for a variety of reasons. Foot baths are commonly used to treat minor foot ailments such as dry skin or athlete’s foot. They are also used for relaxation and to invigorate tired feet.

In order to prepare a foot bath, ingredients are added to the water for soaking feet. Most foot soaks start with a combination of water and Epsom salt. People add varying ingredients to obtain the desired effect. Some people prefer to boil the water before adding the salt and other ingredients. If you boil the water, make sure it has cooled properly before using it as a foot bath.

For relaxation, some like to add a couple drops of lavender essential oil to the combination of water and Epsom salt. Some people prefer tea tree oil, sandlewood, or Ylang Ylang oil instead of the lavender. Sandlewood and Ylang Ylang oil have soothing effects. Tea tree oil has an antifungal property and is sometimes used as a treatment for athlete’s foot.

One peppermint foot soak is to add a few drops of peppermint essential oil, a drop of eucalyptus essential oil, and one drop of lemon essential oil to plain, boiling water. Let the boiling mixture cool before using it as a foot soak.

You may choose to experiment with essential oils that are relaxing or invigorating to you. When doing a foot soak, just relax the feet in the prepared foot bath for at least several minutes. If the goal is to relax, create a relaxing environment in the room where you will do the foot soak. You may choose to light candles in that room or do another relaxing activity, such as reading, while you soak your feet.

If the skin of the feet is dry, pat the feet dry after the foot bath and apply liberal amounts of moisturizer. One natural remedy for dry feet that can effectively follow a foot bath is to apply shortening to the damp feet and put on socks. The socks prevent to shortening from rubbing off and getting the greasiness on floors and furniture. This can be done at night before going to bed.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Home Remedies For Athlete's Foot

Athlete’s foot is a common fungal infection. It causes itching and burning sensations of the affected area. The fungal infection occurs in between the toes and can cause inflammation and peeling skin. There are some home remedies that have been used to treat athlete’s foot.

To cool the infected skin, some people use a foot wash that includes soothing herbs. Thoroughly blend fresh basil and salt with a cup of water. Heat the water to a boil. Allow the water to cool, then use as a foot soak. After soaking and drying the feet, you may want to try one of the following home remedies that attack the fungus.

Grapefruit seed extract or tea tree oil can be applied to the feet a few times a day to treat the infection. For grapefruit seed oil, rinse your hands and apply a few drops with to the infected skin with your wet hands. Tea tree oil can be applied with dry hands. Continue to use tea tree oil for several days after the infection has seemed to clear.

Several people use Listerine to treat athlete’s foot. Simply use the original formula Listerine as a foot soak. Another foot soak treatment uses cornmeal or cinnamon. For the cornmeal treatment, place some cornmeal, preferably the kind used to kill fungus on plants, in a basin and cover with water. Allow the cornmeal mixture to set for about an hour before adding warm water and soaking the feet. For the cinnamon remedy, add broken cinnamon sticks to boiling water. Simmer for five minutes and allow the water to cool before using it as a foot soak.

Garlic is touted as a crucial element in many home remedies. Some people crush garlic cloves and apply the garlic directly to the infected skin. Some people add crushed garlic cloves to warm water and use it as a foot soak. One home remedy for athlete’s foot includes adding the several teaspoons of the dried herb, licorice, to the warm, garlic-infused water before soaking the feet.

If the athlete’s foot does not clear with the use of a home remedy or an over-the-counter treatment, a doctor should be consulted.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Normal Aging Of The Feet

Over time, normal changes to the feet can occur. The feet are under a tremendous amount of pressure during daily activity. While walking, each step puts two to three times as much force as the person’s body weight.

This pressure can alter the structure of the foot as the person ages. Feet can become slightly longer and wider. Some women experience such changes during pregnancy due to the added pressure of pregnancy-related weight gain.

There might be a slight flattening of the arch of the foot. This is normal as long as it is neither excessive nor causes pain. The foot and ankle may lose some flexibility with age as does many joints and muscles in the body. The pad of fat at the bottom of the heel may become thinner with age. Though these changes are unlikely to cause serious problems, they may be accompanied with a loss of balance.

Any foot changes that cause pain or deformities should be checked by a physician. Thickening of calluses such as corns or bony growths like bunions are not part of normal aging. Changes in the shape or alignment of the toes could be signs of problems with the muscles of the foot. A physician can diagnose the condition and recommend appropriate treatment.

Pain is not part of normal foot changes. Pain can indicate a problem with the nerves, such as Morton’s neuromas. It could also be due to fasciitis or other painful foot problems. Discolorations of the feet should not occur. Discoloration could be a sign of a circulation problem.

Arthritis is a common problem among older adults. Arthritis can cause problems with the feet. Arthritis in the feet can cause pain, swelling, and stiffness. Though there is no cure for arthritis, medical treatment can limit its damage and debilitating effects. A doctor should be consulted for any foot problems that are not part of normal aging.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Proper Shoes For Cycling

Cycling is a popular and very healthy hobby. However, many people neglect to take proper precautions to ensure that the health of their feet is not negatively impacted while cycling. People often take a great of effort to selecting the appropriate bicycle. Many cyclists do not realize that the proper shoes are important cycling equipment.

Cycling shoes must provide stability and support. The shoe needs to efficiently transfer power from your feet to the pedals. A lack of support in sneakers allows the arch of the foot to collapse through while pedaling. This compromise of the arch can cause arch pain, tendon problems, or burning under the bottom of the foot.

A good, supportive athletic shoe with significant arch support will protect the feet from the stress of pedaling. Cycling-specific athletic shoes are available. Purchasing cycling-specific shoes can be somewhat expensive. If the cyclist has foot health problems or spends a significant amount of time cycling, these can be a worthwhile investment.

If a cyclist wears orthotics for an existing foot health problem, make sure the shoes worn for cycling will accommodate them. Because cycling requires a considerable amount of forefoot activity, the doctor should be consulted on the effects of the orthotics and the effects of this activity on any foot health problems. People who have bunions, corns, hammertoes, or bunionettes should always use shoes that are wide enough not to cause further friction on the foot.

Cycling-specific shoes vary for the type of cycling activity. Some cycling-specific shoes are designed for racing, while others are for mountain biking. As long as it has excellent arch support, supportive cross-training athletic shoe is all that is necessary for someone who uses cycling as a hobby. These shoes should provide the appropriate support and heel lift necessary for cycling. One popular cross-training shoe for cycling is designed for a combination of cycling and hiking.

Serious cyclists use toe clips. A clip-less system is newer than the traditional clips. A clip-less system is a shoe and cleat ensemble. Therefore, when buying this system, the cyclist needs to be aware if the shoe fitting the system will accommodate or aggravate any current foot health problems or orthotics. Not only do proper shoes for cycling help support the foot, but can positively affect the efficiency of the expended energy during cycling.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Recovery From Bunion Surgery

Taking measures to ensure proper healing of the foot and prevent the recurrence of the bunion is important during the recovery from bunion surgery. Patients can take an active approach to receiving the most benefit from the surgery by following their surgeon’s orders and avoiding future use of problematic footwear.

It typically takes three to five weeks to recover from bunion surgery. The patient may experience some swelling for up to six months. During the first five weeks of recovery, a patient should do what they can to allow the foot to heal properly. Patients should be aware of complications and signs of infection.

The doctor should be notified if the bandage comes loose or gets wet. While healing, the person should avoid putting too much weight on the healing foot. The doctor may prescribe the use of a cane, crutches, or a walker after bunion surgery. Walking unassisted on the healing foot too soon after surgery can cause the muscles of the leg to tighten. The doctor will probably want the patient to keep their foot protected by a special postoperative shoe. The postoperative shoe will help cushion the foot and prevent further injury.

The foot should be kept elevated after surgery. The doctor will instruct the patient on elevating the foot and applying ice packs to help reduce swelling. There are certain activity restrictions that should be followed to allow the foot to heal. The patient should not drive during the first week after surgery.

Stiffness in the affected foot is common after surgery. The surgeon may give the patient instructions that include exercises to increase flexibility and strength of the healing foot. The surgeon or doctor is likely to recommend some physical therapy after bunion surgery. Physical therapy is usually started one to two weeks after surgery. It can help decrease stiffness, reduce swelling, decrease pain, and improve the strength of the muscles.

The doctor should be notified immediately if they experience signs of infection. The signs of infection include fever, chills, inflammation of the affected foot, increased pain, and swelling of the calf above the healing foot.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Bunion Surgery

A bunion is the formation of a bony hump on the inside of the foot. Bunions can be extremely painful. It Is best to meet with a doctor to determine the best treatment for the bunion. The doctor is likely to take a family history, examine the bunion, and order x-rays so the doctor can judge the severity of the deformity. Non-invasive treatment measures are generally tried first. Many people find relief with these simple treatments.

Bunions that cause considerable pain despite a trying a less invasive alternative to bunion surgery may require surgical intervention. A bunion operation is called a bunionectomy. A bunion removal surgery is usually performed on an outpatient basis.

To prepare for surgery, the doctor may do a complete physical to assess the patient’s lungs and general health. It’s important for the doctor to know all the medications the patient is taking. A special set of x-rays may be ordered to help the surgeon plan for the procedure.

An anesthesiologist evaluates the patient before the bunion operation. General anesthesia may be used. Bunion operations are commonly performed using an ankle block anesthesia. Ankle block anesthesia numbs the foot while the patient remains awake. Bunion operations typically take approximately one hour. Most people are able to leave the hospital one or two hours after bunion surgery.

More than 90% of patients do not have any complications after a bunionectomy. Infection is a possible complication. Recurrence of the bunion, nerve damage, and failure to eliminate pain are other possible bunion surgery complications. Aftercare instructions are things for the patient to do to help prevent these complications and encourage the foot to heal properly.

Recovering usually takes three to five weeks. Bunion surgery post op care is very may include physical therapy or exercises to strengthen the foot. Exercising after bunion surgery may help improve the flexibility and range of motion of the foot. Antibiotics may be prescribed to help prevent infection. The doctor may instruct the patient to elevate the foot and apply ice to help reduce swelling. The swelling may last up to six months.

The patient may have to use a cane, crutches, or a walker. The doctor may prescribe the use of a postoperative or bunion surgery shoe to help protect the foot from injury while it heals. The doctor or surgeon should be notified if the bandages come off, loosen, or get wet or if the patient develops signs of infection. Bunion stitches after surgery are removed about two weeks later.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Swelling Of The Feet During Travel

Swelling of the feet is common during air travel. While sitting on a plane for hours, blood tends to pool in the feet and legs. Sitting puts pressure on the veins of the legs which inhibits their ability to effectively get all the blood back to the heart. This causes more blood than usual to remain in those veins instead of swiftly returning to the heart. Sitting for long periods of time can also cause some fluid to leave the blood and enter the surrounding tissue.

While swelling is usually harmless, it can be a sign of a blood clot in the leg (deep vein thrombosis). Normal swelling should subside after several hours of regular activity. If the swelling does not go down after normal activity has resumed, medical attention should be sought immediately to rule out a deep vein thrombosis. If legs are painful or if swelling is only occurring in one leg, the person should go to the emergency room or call emergency services immediately as these are signs that the swelling is not normal and may indicate a deep vein thrombosis.

The best way to prevent swelling and reduce the risk for deep vein thrombosis is to get up and walk around the plane every hour. IF travelling by car, stop and take frequent breaks to stretch the legs and walk. Walking causes the veins to constrict which forces the blood back to the heart.

Elevating the legs and feet can help prevent swelling. If you are unable to elevate your legs, rotating your ankles while sitting my help prevent swelling. Stretching out the calves can help. Calf stretches should be done every half hour. Avoid wearing restrictive clothing when traveling. Water should be consumed, especially during flights or in warm weather. Dehydration can be a contributing factor to deep vein thrombosis. Thus, it is also beneficial to avoid alcohol consumption.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Going Barefooted Or Wearing Flip Flops

People mistakenly believe that wearing flip flops or going barefooted are healthy alternatives to wearing shoes. This could be because of all the hype about the dangers of wearing high heels. With the summer months upon us, many people opt to wear flip flops or go barefooted under the assumption that they are doing their feet a favor.

While wearing high heels can be problematic, so can going barefooted or wearing flip flops. Flip flops offer none of the necessary support that proper footwear does. This lack of support can contribute to plantar fascia or sprains. The lack of support leaves the foot susceptible to injuries involving the tendons, such as tendonitis. This is because the muscles and tendons of the foot have to compensate for the lack of support and receive none of the shock absorption that is a function of proper footwear.

Going barefooted leaves feet vulnerable to puncture wounds, scrapes, or cuts. Puncture wounds are especially problematic for the feet. A common injury during the summer months, puncture wounds can lead to infection or painful scarring. If someone does get a puncture wound, it is important for them to seek medical attention to ensure that the wound is properly cleaned and free of debris.

People are not wrong for wanting to avoid high heels or limit their use for special occasions. High heels commonly contribute to the development of foot problems. For people concerned about foot health, the best footwear is an athletic shoe with proper support.

Any shoes worn should have a toe box that is wide. A narrow toe box puts undue pressure on the toes and can lead to problems such as bunions and hammertoes. Neither the toe box nor any part of the shoe should cause friction against the foot. Friction can lead to calluses, corns, or blisters.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Rheumatoid Arthritis And The Feet

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is an immunological disease that impacts the joints of the body. The feet are not immune to damage caused by rheumatoid arthritis. With rheumatoid arthritis, the joints of the body become inflamed. Walking can become painful. Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic condition, however people inflicted with this disease may have extended periods of time without symptoms.

Rheumatoid arthritis can be treated, but not cured. Treatment is most effective when started as close to the onset of the disease as possible. The feet are often the first part of the body affected by rheumatoid arthritis. The front of the feet becomes painful and stiff. During the course of this disease, it can cause the toes to become contracted and curl. If this happens, wearing footwear with deep, wide toe boxes is important to prevent further problems with the toes. Therefore, any joint pain in the feet should be checked by a physician.

If the joint pain is rheumatoid arthritis, the doctor may prescribe a variety of treatments. Medication is typically prescribed for rheumatoid arthritis. Exercises may be recommended. Orthotics may be prescribed to alleviate some of the pressure on the feet.

Orthotics used for rheumatoid arthritis can be insoles or toe guards to reduce friction of the toes against footwear. The doctor may prescribe special orthotic footwear designed for people inflicted with rheumatoid arthritis. Splints, braces, canes, or crutches may be suggested and prescribed by a physician. If the rheumatoid arthritis has caused significant damage and causes pain or discomfort, the doctor may administer injections of corticosteroids.

Rheumatoid arthritis can cause bunions and hammertoe. The doctor may recommend surgery to correct foot problems caused by rheumatoid arthritis. Arthrodesis is the surgical fusion of joints. The person loses the ability to bend joints that have been surgically fused. However, arthrodesis can relieve the pain caused by rheumatoid arthritis.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Non-invasive Treatments For Bunions

Bunion pain is often caused by friction and pressure caused by ill-fitting footwear. People with bunions can wear regular footwear as long as they fit well and provide plenty of room across the toes of the foot. Of the toe box is usually too narrow in shoes with high heels or pointy toes.

Significant pain and inflammation can be caused by bunions. An non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) may provide some relief. Foot soaks in hot water, with or without Epsom salts, can provide some relief from pain and inflammation.

Bunion orthotics, such as bunion pads and toe spacers, can be used to alleviate the pressure on the bunion and toes that is caused by the bunions resulting misalignment of the foot. Bunion pads reduce friction against the footwear. Bunion toe spacers separate the big toe from the second toe. Bunions cause the big toe to crowd the second toe. This can cause the big toe to lie under or on top of the second toe. The spacer helps prevent the second toe from developing hammer toe or painful calluses.

The use of these bunion regulators, soft bunion splints, can be helpful. The area of the splint that covers the bunion is well-cushioned. Bunion regulators separate the big toe from the second toe, which alleviates the pressure on the second toe. The regulator stretches the toe muscles affected by the bunion. Bunion regulators can be purchased online or in drug stores.

Bunion stretch exercises are one form of non-invasive treatment. These exercises are done to stretch and strengthen the muscles of the big toes. With feet together, place a large, thick rubber band around the big toes. Keeping the heels together, gently move the front of your feet apart, creating a V-shape. Hold the stretch for about ten seconds. Relax and repeat the stretch twenty times.

If non-invasive treatment methods fail to relieve the pain and inflammation, a doctor may recommend bunion removal surgery. There are no cures for bunions. Consult a doctor when determining the best treatment methods for bunion care.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

New Device Replaces Casting For Orthotics

There is new technology that could replace the need for plaster casts used to create orthotic devices. A company called PAL Health Technologies, which is based in Pekin, Illinois, has developed a scanning device that collects and stores the dimensions of the patient’s foot. This new device is called Xtremityscan.

PAL Health Technologies has announced that they will be giving away an Xtremityscan unit this month at the upcoming Western Podiatric Medical Conference in Anaheim, CA. The Xtremityscan will make its debut at the conference.

The Xtremityscan creates a digital, three-dimensional model of a patient’s foot in seconds. The image can be rotated 360 degrees. The image can be displayed as wireframe, surface, and topographical views.

This scanning device has a patient database in which the scan can be stored. The Xtremityscan software can be used by a podiatrist to select the appropriate orthotic device and place an order for the necessary orthotic device through an Internet connection. PAL Health Technologies is a supplier of custom-made orthotic devices. This process speeds up the acquisition of orthotics since it eliminates the time it takes to ship the cast to PAL Health Technologies for their use to create the orthotics.

This would replace the previous method of casting the foot in plaster to obtain a model of the patient’s foot. Having an accurate model of the patient’s foot is necessary for making custom-made orthotics to correct foot problems such as misalignments. Orthotics are a common, non-invasive method of treatment for foot pain and biomechanical problems in the foot.

The Xtremityscan is available as a mobile unit on a cart. It is wireless, and therefore can be easily transported between examination rooms. The Xtremityscan units can be leased from PAL Health Technologies. PAL Health Technologies touts the Xtremityscan device as the complete digital orthotic prescription solution.

Also look at custom orthopedic shoes

Friday, May 30, 2008

Risk Factors For Plantar Fasciitis

Plantar fasciitis is an inflammation of the plantar fascia. The plantar fascia is the fibrous tissue that connects the heel to the base of the toes. Plantar fasciitis can cause severe pain in the feet. Plantar fasciitis used to be called gonorrheal heel. It was mistakenly thought that plantar fasciitis was related to the sexually-transmitted disease gonorrhea.

There are certain risk factors that increase a person’s chance of developing plantar fasciitis. Plantar fasciitis is caused by overuse. People who are overweight or have jobs that require standing or walking on hard surfaces for long periods of time are prone to developing plantar fascia. Another name for plantar fasciitis is policeman’s heel.

Plantar fasciitis is more prevalent in women due to the inadequate support in shoes that they often wear. Flat feet or very high arches are risk factors for plantar fasciitis. Wearing shoes with stiff or thin soles can cause plantar fasciitis. Shoes should have good heel support or wearing them can put you at risk for this condition.

Walking or running regularly for exercise can increase a person’s risk for plantar fascia. Walkers and joggers who have tight calf muscles prevent them from flexing their ankles normally. This makes them especially at risk. Plantar Fasciitis is sometimes referred to as jogger’s heel or tennis heel. The pain usually occurs after exercise. The worst pain is usually felt first thing on the morning.

People tend to lose some of the resiliency of their ligaments as they get older which makes elderly people more susceptible. Arthritis can make a person more prone to developing plantar fasciitis.

Even small changes in foot movement during normal daily activity can lead to plantar fasciitis. It’s relatively easy to accidentally overstretch the plantar fascia. The best way to prevent plantar fasciitis is to wear shoes that have proper support.

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