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.

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Thursday, March 27, 2008

Clawfoot (Pes Cavus)

Some people’s feet have unusually high arches. It is the opposite of flat feet. This condition can be called clawfoot, pes cavus, or talipes cavus. Clawfoot is much less common than flat feet. A foot with an abnormally high arch often causes the ankle to have an outward tilt. The length of the foot tends to be shortened.

The high arched foot may cause clawed toes. Clawed toes are bent and cannot be straightened. Clawed toes can be painful. If the foot is raised off the ground, the forefoot of a high arched foot lies lower than the heel. The cause of high arched feet may be hereditary or caused by a neurological or neuromuscular problem.

People with high arches do not usually experience pain or other problems associated with this condition. The high arches and clawed toes can make finding well-fitting shoes problematic. Some people with high arches find it necessary to buy orthopedic or custom-made shoes.

Clawfoot may cause corns and calluses on the clawed toes. Pain in the arch due to additional pressure is a possible symptom especially while walking, standing, or running. Feet with high arches tend to be less flexible than normal feet. It can cause the calf muscle to be tighter than usual.

Clawfoot is a potentially disabling condition. The high arched foot may be treated with orthotics that provide support to the arch and alleviate some of the pressure. The doctor may prescribe steroids or anti-inflammatory medications. Padding or taping may be used to help control symptoms.

Pain due to the compression of the metatarsals can be persistent. If this condition is painful, surgical intervention may be recommended by a physician. High arched feet are prone to developing plantar fasciitis and heel spurs. Clawfoot makes the person more susceptible to developing arthritis and bone fractures.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Heel Spurs

Heel spurs are a painful condition that develops when the bone of the heel has abnormal growth. If the plantar fascia pulls away from the heel bone, calcium deposits can form at the site of the injury. The plantar fascia is the band of fibrous tissue that runs from the heel to the front of the foot. The calcium deposits form a bony, hook-like protrusion of the heel bone.

Heel spurs are most commonly caused by over-pronation, flatfoot. It can also be caused by abnormally high arches, a condition called pes cavus. Women are more susceptible to developing heel spurs due to problem footwear. A medical history of plantar fasciitis increases a person’s risk for developing heel spurs. About seventy percent of the people with plantar fasciitis develop heel spurs. However, about fifty percent of the cases of heel spurs happen to people with no history of plantar fasciitis.

Diagnosis of heel spurs can be made with the use of an x-ray. The proper treatment begins with determining the cause of the overstretching of the plantar fascia. If it is caused by over-pronation, the physician may prescribe the use of orthotics to support the arch of the foot. Heel cradles and heel cups may be worn to provide extra cushioning for the heel.

Rest is recommended to allow the inflammation to resolve itself. Rest alleviates most of the pain associated with heel spurs. The doctor may suggest losing weight, regular exercise, and stretching. The physician may recommend the use of shoes that provide ample cushioning for the heel. During acute attacks of heel spurs, applying ice packs can help. Never apply ice or ice packs directly to the skin.

Over-the-counter non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) can be used for pain relief. The doctor may prescribe the use of night splints. Night splints are used to stretch the plantar fascia and heel during the night. With proper treatment, the pain from bone spurs usually subsides within three months.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Purchasing Shoes For Toddlers

It is recommended that infants be allowed to be barefoot or wear only socks on their feet. Infant shoes are unnecessary until the child begins to walk. Selecting proper footwear for toddlers who have begun to walk is important, because they supply support, protection, and aid in balance.

When shopping for shoes for a toddler, have them wear socks that would be typically worn with the shoes. Socks made from a natural fiber, such as cotton, are the healthiest choice. A salesperson at the shoe store can measure the toddler’s foot and help find the best fit. If the store does not have salespersons that provide that assistance, take special care that the shoes fit properly.

Some stores have carpet mats that provide outlines of feet at the varying sizes. A toddler or child can stand on the different outlines to find which one matches their foot size. On the mat, the corresponding size is indicated for each outline.

Try the appropriate size shoe on the toddler. Both shoes should be tried on since it is not uncommon for one foot to be slightly larger than the other. The back of the shoe should fit snuggly against the heel, but not so tight as to cause irritation or friction. There should be plenty of room between the largest toe and the front of the shoe. The space between the largest toe and the front of the shoe should be about half an inch.

Shoes should provide support, but be somewhat flexible. Toddlers who are just beginning to walk need the most flexible soles. Leather or rubber soles are recommended.

Periodically check the toddler’s shoes for proper fit. If shoes become too tight, do not delay in replacing them with larger ones. Toddler’s feet grow rapidly. They may need new shoes as frequently as every two to three months.

Friday, March 14, 2008


Gout is caused by the buildup of uric acid in the joints. It causes the development of hyperuricemia which is the elevation of the level of uric acid in the blood. Hyperuricemia develops when the body produces more uric acid than can be filtered out by the kidneys. A diet high in rich foods, such as red meat and cream sauces, can contribute to the development of this condition. The first joint of the big toe and the ankles are the joints that are most commonly affected by gout.

Gout affects approximately 2.1 million people in the United States. It is more prevalent among in men who are forty to fifty years old. Women are more likely to be affected after menopause. There may be a genetic component to the risk of gout. Diabetes, sickle cell anemia, obesity, regular alcohol consumption, and kidney disease can increase the risk of developing gout. Aspirin, L-dopa, and other medications can interfere with the kidney’s ability to filter uric acid from the blood.

The individual with gout may experience pain and swelling in the effected joint. Gout can cause inflammation, redness, and stiffness in or around the joint. Usually, only one joint is affected at a time.

A physician may insert a needle into the joint and draw some synovial fluid to check for signs of uric acid buildup. The fluid is examined for the presence of microscopic uric acid crystals. If a blood test is used to check for elevated uric acid levels, the results may be misleading during an attack. During an attack of gout, the uric acid centralizes in the joint. Therefore, the blood levels during an attack may be normal.

Without treatment, the joints are at risk for permanent damage. The doctor may prescribe the use of over-the-counter nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. Medication specifically for gout may be prescribed. Drinking plenty of water and limiting the consumption of alcohol and rich foods may help prevent gout.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Morton's Neuroma - Morton's Neuralgia

Neuroma is the thickening or growth of nerve tissues that can develop in various parts of your body. Morton’s neuroma is the most common neuroma that occurs in your foot. This usually takes place in the third interspace, which is at the base and in between your third and fourth toes. It is also referred to as Intermetatarsal neuroma. Intermetatarsal, means the ball of your foot that is between the metatarsal bones. These are the length of your bones from toes to the midfoot.

Make no mistake because this kind of neuroma may also occur in other parts of your foot. It can also occur in the second and third interspace of your toes. Other known names are Morton’s metatarsalgia, Morton’s neuralgia, and plantar neuroma.

You can get Morton’s neuroma by often wearing tight fitting shoes, especially on the toe box part, or wearing high-heeled shoes that cause your toes to be pushed more in your shoes’ toe box. If you have common foot deformities such as bunions, hammertoes, or if you are flat-footed, you are also at a higher risk to develop a neuroma. Other causes of this swelling of the nerve are sports and activities that involve repetitive and excessive pressure to the ball of your foot, like jogging and playing racquet sports. But Morton’s neuroma can also develop for unknown reasons. You may have moved your foot abnormally and you can already get Morton’s neuroma if it’s that bad.

You will know it is Morton’s neuroma when it causes a sharp, burning pain in the ball of your foot, or if you feel that something is inside it, with accompanied stinging and burning, or even numbness of your toes. There will be no sign of lumps in your foot. These symptoms begin gradually, but you will feel the pain for several days or even weeks if this gets worse overtime.

You can treat the early stages of Morton’s neuroma even without a surgery, depending on the case of the swelling of the nerve. You can change the kind of shoes you are wearing by choosing wide toe boxes and by avoiding narrow-toed shoes. Avoid high heels as well. You should also modify your activities that may be causing stress to your foot. For moderate cases, you can do padding techniques, which can lessen the pressure on the neuroma and thereby decreasing compression of the nerve whenever you walk. Placing an icepack is also a quick and easy remedy that will decrease the swelling of the affected area. Anti-inflammatory drugs like Ibuprofen can also quickly lessen the pain, and more importantly, the inflammation of the nerve in your foot.

Read more on Morton's Neuroma - Morton's Neuralgia

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

What Are Orhotics?

Orthotics, or orthopedic devices, are medical devices designed to alter, protect, or correct abnormalities of the foot. Orthotics are a noninvasive treatment method for a variety of foot ailments. Orthotics can be used to correct foot misalignments. The root of the word is “ortho” which means “to straighten.”

Orthotics can either be purchased over the counter or be custom-made by a physician. A physician is likely to use a cast of the foot to create the orthotic device. The orthotics are made to specifically treat the disorder. The creation of the orthotics may involve the use of computer technology and orthotic laboratory technicians.

Orthotics are categorized as being either accommodative or functional. Accommodative orthotics are usually comprised of a soft, cushioning material. They are used to provide comfort and alleviate mild foot pain. Accommodative orthotics are used to correct minor foot ailments. They also include splints, night bars, and gait plates. Night bars are used to correct the position of children’s feet while they sleep.

Functional orthotics are placed in the shoe and worn to correct abnormal foot biomechanics. Functional orthotics can help prevent or be used to treat flatfoot. They can be used to reduce impact. They can be used to prevent overuse injuries.

There are signs that someone can benefit from the use of orthotics. Uneven wear on shoes can indicate that the feet could have a misalignment issue. Bunions, flatfeet or falling arches, or foot pain may be treated with orthotics. Gait abnormalities can often be corrected with orthotic devices. The use of orthotics can help alleviate pain in the shin, lower back, knee, or hip. Orthotics may be one part of the treatment for some diseases, such as spina bifida, cerebral palsy, or stroke. Orthotics can be used to keep a foot deformity from developing additional problems.

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