Fayette Podiatry

posted on 14 Mar 2014 14:06 by kimberlytall
Fayette Podiatry

Foot Problems



ARTHRITIS

Feet with arthritis.See swelling.Arthritis is theleading cause of physical disability in the United States. This disabling andsometimes crippling disease affects nearly 43 million people. Although it canaffect any joint, arthritis frequently shows up first in the feet, which causesswelling, pain, tenderness, heat, redness and early morning stiffness injoints.

This medical conditionactually includes some 100 different diseases, but they all have one thing incommon, damage to the body's joints and connective tissues, the ligaments, bonesto help or slow damage to joints and to control pain.

See your podiatrist rightaway if you have persistent foot pain.



BROKENTOES

It can't be broken becauseI can move it. At one time or another, we all have repeated this phrase afterstubbing a toe or banding a foot. But in truth, this myth has kept manyfractured toes from receiving proper treatment. While you can still walk withcertain kinds of fractures, it is imperative that you pay close attention toyour feet. If you feel any pain, or see any swelling or discoloration followingthe impact, you should seek immediate treatment from a podiatrist.

A toe fracture needsprompt attention. If x-rays reveal it to be a simple, undisplaced fracture, careby your podiatrist usually can produce rapid relief. However, x-rays mightidentify a displaced or angulated break. In such cases, prompt setting of thefracture by your podiatrist will help prevent improper or incomplete healing. Apopular misconception is that broken toes will heal without treatment. Intruth, if a broken toe is not taped properly, it may heal crookedly,necessitating additional surgery. Many people also develop post fracturedeformity of a toe, which, in turn, can result in a most painful corn.

A good general rule toremember is: seek prompt treatment for injury to bones in thefoot.




BUNIONS

A bunion is a swelling orenlargement of the large toe joint on the inner side of the foot. The deformityusually develops gradually and will cause pain from shoes rubbing against theenlarged bone. There may be swelling, redness and deep aching associated withthe bunion joint causing a bursitis.

Bunions develop from aweakness in the bone structure of your foot. Because of the instability of thebones and ligaments that form to various joints and arches in your foot, thejoints have a tendency to move out of proper alignment.

Bunions are not caused byimproper shoe gear, but are significantly aggravated by improper fitting shoesthat place an unusual degree of pressure at the bunion joint. As bunions becomemore severe the joint moves out of proper alignment and eventually arthritisdamages the joint space. The large toe moves sideways towards the 2ndtoe and foot tends to widen across the metatarsal area.

As a rule a buniondeformity should be recognized early and evaluated by your podiatrist. As abunion deformity progresses however, treatment should include modification ofshoe gear with a wider shoe to alleviate the pressure at the bunion joint. Anti-inflammatory medication and/or cortisone injections could be necessaryduring the acute phase. X-ray findings will determine the severity of the bunionand whether surgery may or may not be recommended. If surgery is recommended,there are many different surgical procedures that are available and these arebase upon the examination and x-ray findings.



BUNION TREATMENTSCANVARY

Foot with a bunion.Bunions, like corns andcalluses, are charter members in the foot pain hall of fame. They can develop inchildhood, or more often later in life, and are often brought on by heredity,improper footwear, or arthritis.

The bunion, or halluxvalgus, occurs when the great toe begins to drift toward the second toe. As itmoves, the first metatarsal bone is pushed outward, creating a bony mass at thebase of the great toe.

Women seem to be morepredisposed to the condition than men, likely because hereditary factors areenhanced by restrictive footwear.

The treatment planselected by a doctor of podiatric medicine varies with the age and health of thepatient, as well as with the severity of the deformity. Conservative treatmentmeasures may consist of shoes with adequate size to accommodate the bunion, orpads and custom molded shoes. Surgical corrections vary from simply removing thebony prominence to more extensive procedures, such as fusion of joints and jointreplacement. Most patients are back into tennis shoes in two to four weeksfollowing surgery. Be aware that laser surgery is not an option for buniontreatment. At this time, no laser exists which can cut bone safely.

Bunions may be common butthe discomfort they cause can bring on uncommon misery. Doctors of podiatricmedicine can provide complete information on effective bunion surgeryprocedures.



BUNIONS AFFLICTMILLIONS

According to a recentsurvey by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, more than 80 millionAmericans have foot problems. About seven million of those unlucky souls sufferfrom bunions, generally regarded as the most painful disfiguring of footproblems. This condition is five times as common among women as men, but evenlydivided between whites and blacks. As deformities of the toe and joint, bunionsrise sharply with age and except for the lowest income bracket, decline withincome.

What arebunions?

Bunions are misaligned bigtoe joints that become swollen and tender. The deformity causes the first jointof the big toe to slant outward and the second joint to angle toward the othertoes. Bunions tend to be inherited, but the tendency can be aggravated by shoesthat are too narrow in the forefoot and toe. There are conservative andpreventive steps that can minimize the discomfort of a bunion, but surgery isfrequently recommended to correct the problem.

Self-care includes wearingshoes that don't cramp your toes and the bony area immediately behind your toes.Also, soaking your feet in warm water will help relieve the pain. Your podiatricphysician may recommend special shoes or the wearing of foot/shoe supports(orthosis). Surgery sometimes is necessary to realign thetoe.



CHILDREN'S FEET - TAKEA CLOSER LOOK

It is very difficult todescribe what a perfectly normal foot should look like in a child. But there arewarning signs and symptoms that parents should watch for to head off foottrouble for their children later in life.

Is the arch of yourchild's foot high or flat? Are there any bone deformities - toes bent orcrooked, or a bunion condition, characterized by bumps or enlargements on thebig toe joints?

How about ingrowntoenails? Are they present, along with corns or calluses or warts on his or hertoes, or on the tops of bottoms of the feet? When your child walks, does he orshe walk on the inside or outside of his or her toes?

Remember that lack ofcomplaint is not a reliable sign that everything is fine. Because the bones in achild's feet are soft and pliable, they can be bent twisted even before any painis felt, or with only momentary discomfort.

Careful parents, ofcourse, want what is best for their children. Because foot health begins inchildhood, regular checkups, and prompt treatment at the first signs of troublecan ensure a lifetime of pain-free walking for your child. And that is a trulyprecious gift.




COMMON CONDITIONS AND DISEASE OF THE FOOT AND ANKLE

AchillesTendonitis - This is a painfulinflammation of the Achilles Tendon (which connects the calf muscle to theheel), commonly found among females who wear high heels.

AnkleSprain - Over extension ofligaments resulting from trauma, athletic injury or an inherently unstableankle.

Arthritis - Symptoms include joint stiffness, pain ortenderness that persists two weeks or more. The cartilage protecting the jointis eroding and pain is caused by bone rubbing against bone. Rheumatoidarthritis and osteoarthritis are the two most common forms of the disease;though more than 100 varieties exist.

Athlete'sFoot - A contagious fungalinfection, recognizable by red, dry, cracked and itchy skin between the toes.Can lead to more serious skin problems when left untreated.

Bunion - Painful condition caus3ed by misalignment orenlargement of the bone at the base of the big toe (usually from improperlyfitting footwear or excessive physical activity); bunions can lead to jointarthritis if left untreated.

Calluses - Thickened, irritated dead skin, usually found onthe heel or ball of the foot. In diabetics and other individuals with poorcirculation, the skin can become ulcerated and infected.

Corn - A hard, painful area of thickened skin, usuallycovering a protruding bone or in between the toes. Often caused by theirritation of improperly fitting shoes.

FallenArches (a.k.a. flat feet) - Low ornon-existent arches can lead to further disability with advancing age andinactivity.

HammerToe - A tightening of ligamentsand tendons causing the toe joints to buckle, forcing the toe upward and leadingto shoe abrasion, inflammation, bursitis, corns and calluses.

HeelPain (Plantar Fasciitis) -Irritation of the ligament situated along the bottom of the foot and attachingto the heel. Usually causes pain upon waking in the morning. Prolongedinflammation can cause bone spurs to develop.

Hematoma - Blood beneath the nail, usually a result ofinjury or excessive physical activity. Possible indicator of toe fracture.

IngrownToenail - Excessively curved nailthat causes pain by growing into the skin. Sometimes a chronic condition.

Metatarsalgia - Pain in the ball of the foot, usually caused byexcessive wearing of high-heeled shoes.

NailFungus - Discoloration (yellow orbrown) or thickening of the toenail; can lead to skin infection.

Neuroma - Painful enlarged growths of nerves, usuallybetween third and fourth toe, causing burning, tingling or numbness.

Neuropathy - Loss of sensation of pain, heat and cold infeet. Frostbite is a common cause of this condition; neuropathy can lead toserious infection if left untreated.

Sesamoiditis - Inflammation of bones underneath the base of thebig toe, usually caused by excessive physical activity and improperly fittedshoes.

StressFractures - Partial break of themetatarsals (the long bones of the foot), caused by repeated pounding or trauma.Pain intensifies as exercise continues.

Ulcer - Open sores or breaks in the skin, often anindicator of circulation problems and/or diabetes.

Warts - Virus causing abnormal growths on the skin.



DIABETIC FEET: HANDLEWITH CARE

Diabetics have many healthconcerns and not the least of them is paying greater attention to their feet.Because they're at a greater distance from the heart, the poor circulation andnerve impairment that diabetes can cause often puts the feet at risk. But aregular program of hygiene, some common sense, and regular podiatric medicalexaminations can keep diabetics on their feet and walking.

Poor blood circulationmans that the feet have harder time fighting infections and healing, and theresulting complications can be as serious as ulcers, or even amputation.Numbness or tingling, coldness, or a bluish discoloration is symptoms ofcirculatory trouble. When nerves are impaired, the feet can be injured without amoment of pain. Even a hot bath can be an occasion for a serious burn.

Diabetics should visittheir podiatric physicians twice a year. Daily foot hygiene and regularinspections are also essential, as is avoiding activities or habits that canrestrict circulation, such as crossing legs, exposing the feet to coldtemperatures, wearing garters, or smoking.

The American PodiatricMedical Association has produced a brochure that outlines much more informationon the topic of foot care for diabetics. For a free copy, call 1-800- FOOTCARE.



DIABETIC FOOTPROBLEMS

Foot problems are aleading cause of hospitalization of the sixteen million persons in the UnitedStates who have diabetes (almost half of whom are unaware of their condition*). It is estimated that 15% of all diabetics will develop a serious foot conditionat some time in their lives.

Common problems includeinfection, ulceration, and gangrene (too often leading to amputation of toe,foot or even leg).

Causes of diabetic footproblems:
*Ulceration, usually caused by excessive pressure,or trauma; pre-existing foot deformity greatly increases risk.*Poorcirculation, restricting adequate delivery of oxygen and nutrients, in turncontributing to mobility reduction and the ability of wounds to heal properly.*Neuropathy causes reduced sensation, leadingunnoticed symptoms and possible delays in treatment of infection, ulceration,and progressive foot deformities.*Decreasedresistance to infection due to white blood cell difficulties, especiallyproblematic with the conditions listed above.
FootDeformities

Foot deformities such ashammertoes, bunions, and metatarsal disorders have special significance in thediabetic population. A deformity places the foot at increased risk fordeveloping corns, calluses, blisters and ulcerations. Neuropathy may rendersymptoms relatively painless.

Special deformities canoccur in persons with neuropathy regardless of circulatory condition. A Charcotjoint, resulting from trauma to the insensitive foot, causes the foot tocollapse and widen. This destructive condition is often heralded by persistentswelling and redness, mild to moderate aching, and an inability to fit intoshoes. If this occurs, it is important to stay off the foot and see a podiatricsurgeon immediately.



FOOT AND ANKLEINJURIES

pain

You miss a step racingacross the street and sprain and ankle. Ouch! A bag of groceries tears open, andbottles and cans fall on your foot. Ouch!

Accidents of this typehappen every day. Broken bones, dislocations, sprains, contusions, infections,and other serious injuries can occur at any time. And when a foot or ankleinjury does happen, it is critical that you seek immediate medical treatment. Probably the mostimportant rule to follow in preventing foot and ankle injuries is not to takeyour feet for granted. By simply keeping them healthy, following safe workpractices, and wearing the appropriate shoes for your job or sports activity,you will ensure the ability to use your feet with ease and comfort for a long,long time.

If you do hurt your footor ankle, podiatrists suggest you get off your feet immediately. Next, elevatethe injured foot higher than the waist to reduce swelling and pain, and use coldcompresses in a 20 minute on 40 minute off cycle. For bleeding lacerations,cleanse well, apply pressure with gauze or a towel, cover with a clean dressingand get to a podiatrist's office as quickly aspossible.



FOOT HEALTH CARE FOR OLDERAMERICANS

Mobility, the ability tomove about, is essential for older people to live useful, satisfying, lives, butfoot problems often interfere with their mobility and independence. According tothe United States National Center for Health Statistics, impairment of the lowerextremities is a leading cause of activity limitation in older people.

There are more than 300different foot ailments. Some of these ailments can be traced to heredity, butfor aging population, most of these ailments stem from the cumulative effect ofyears of neglect and abuse. However, many foot problems can be treatedsuccessfully, and the pain of foot ailmentsrelieved.



AN OUNCEOF PREVENTION

Healthy feet meanlimitless activity and exercise and, contrary to popular belief, feet don't needto hurt. Caring for one's feet should be as much part of a regular routine asbrushing teeth. By following these general foot health guidelines, feet shouldlast a lifetime:
*Practicedaily foot hygiene and care. Inspect your feet every day or have someone do thisfor you. If you notice any redness, swelling, cracks in the skin, or sores,consult your podiatrysurgeon*In anaging body, toenails begin to thicken causing more difficulty. For some,trimming the toenails straight across is recommended. Corns and calluses, whichplague the feet of active seniors, must be care for by a professional*Wearproper fitting shoes. For more strenuous walking and running, an athletic shoewith gel soles, rubber bottoms, arch supports and a size larger are recommended.If mall walking is preferred, a supportive walking or running shoe will suffice.Wear thicker socks for more cushion. Shop for shoes in the afternoon; feet tendto swell during the day*Stretchdaily and remain active. As a body ages, circulation suffers; daily stretchingwill help warm up the muscles to begin exercise and help cool down tired musclesafter activity*As peopleage, their feet tend to spread and lose the fatty pads that cushion the bottomof the feet. Additional weight can affect the bone and ligament structure. Olderpeople, consequently, should have their feet measured for shoe sizes morefrequently, rather than presuming that their shoe sizes remain the same*Have yourfeet examined by a podiatric surgeon or podiatrist at least twice a year.



YOU DON'T HAVE TO LIVE WITH FOOTODOR

No other parts of thehuman body put up with as much verbal abuse as the feet. They're often labeledthe "ugliest part of the body", for example, and they seldom escape beingprefaced with the adjectives, "smelly" or "stinky".

But nobody has to livewith smelly feet. It's a treatable problem, often caused by improper foothygiene or excessive perspiration. These two culprits can provide a mediumproducing a flourishing crop of odorous bacteria and with over a quarter of amillion sweat glands in a pair of feet, these bacteria have an almost unlimitedfood supply.

What's a person to do?Obviously, clean your feet thoroughly. Just standing in soapy water while youtake a shower isn't enough. Soap up and rinse your feet, then dry themcompletely, especially between the toes where odor begins. Then apply a goodfoot powder to control that perspiration. Finally, limit the wearing of nylonhosiery and boots. Wear natural-fiber socks, or socks that provide a "wicking"action to draw away perspiration. And wear "breathable" shoes made of leather orcanvas.

If odor still persists,see your podiatric physician. Treatments may include medicated soaps,antibiotics, or antiperspirants, but the result will be the same: foot odor willjust be a badmemory.



DON'T FOOL WITH FROSTBITE OFTHE FEET IN SUB-FREEZING WEATHER

When the feet are exposedto extremely cold weather for a long time they are in danger of frost bite, apainful condition that can result in permanent tissue damage or even loss oftoes.

If your feet are painfulafter exposure to cold, you could be in danger of frostbite. Another warning iswhen pain gives way to numbness, in either case, seek a heat source as quicklyas possible, or move about to help blood circulation. Never remove boots orshoes to examine your feet while still outdoors.

After you've gotten out ofthe cold, check the color of your toes. If the skin is white or blue-blackinstead of pink, you need immediate medical attention. A podiatric physician,specially trained in diseases of the foot, can save damaged toes if medicallypossible.

If medical attention isnot available, warm the feet gradually (warm water is best), and massage then tostimulate the circulation. Analgesics, like acetaminophen or ibuprofen, willhelp ease the pain warming up.

Insulated, waterprooffootwear is the best way of preventing frostbite. Lace boots to the top, but nottoo tight. Socks should be thick, but not layered so thickly that circulation islost.




HEALTHY FEET AND YOURBACK

Doctors of podiatricmedicine, trained and accustomed to relieve foot pain arising from a variety ofsources, have been discovering that some of the ways they overcome foot problemscan also have a positive effect on one of mankind's more mysterious kinds ofpain - back pain.

The keys are orthosis -hand-crafted "arch supports" inserted in footwear to correct foot deformities orabnormalities, which can cause irregular walking patterns and lead to pain inthe legs, hips and back as well as the feet.

Podiatrists have long beenaware of cause-and-effect relationships between foot pain and back pain (backproblems can lead to foot pain, too).

Now, high technology hasproduced computerized gait analysis equipment that enables them to get much moreprecise measurements of the irregularities, and create more effective orthosis.

The podiatrist is notlicensed to treat the back directly, and there is a lot of back pain thatdoesn't have a thing to do with the feet.

But, in the absence ofclear-cut causes for back pain in people who are otherwise physically fit, gaitanalysis may be able to pinpoint a direct link between foot pain and back pain,neither of which arenormal.



HEEL PAIN: NOGAIN

People ask a lot of theirheels. The largest bones in the foot, they bear the brunt of every step we take.It's no surprise heels end up hurting occasionally.

Having flat fee, anabnormal gait, ill-fitting shoes, or a weight problem can all lead to heel pain.But a variety of conservative treatments by a podiatrist can quickly alleviatesuch pain.

Most heel pain involves amembrane surrounding the heel bone that anchors a long band of connectivetissue, called the plantar fascia, which stops at the ball of the foot. When thefascia is stretched too far, the tissue tears and inflames, creating a conditionknown as plantar fasciitis.

Stretching of the fasciacan also contribute to the formation and development of heel spurs.

While rest and appliedheat provide temporary relief from heel spurs and plantar fasciitis, it is bestto consult with podiatric physicians for permanent treatment.

With x-rays, a podiatristcan identify the condition and prescribe anti-inflammatory medication, physicaltherapy, or orthotic shoe inserts to relieve stress and correct biomechanicalproblems.

Surgical removal of theheel spurs is rarely required. But if surgery is the best option in your case,it can be performed in the office or in ahospital.



HEELPAIN

Heel pain is commonlycaused by plantar fasciitis (which is also referred to as a heel spur); this canaffect 2.5 million people each year.

The ligament thatstretches along the bottom of the foot, the plantar fascia, is responsible formaintaining the arch of your foot. When the plantar fascia pulls away from thebone your heel becomes painful. Your body may react by filling this space withnew bone, which results in heel spurs. Most people think that heel spurs arethe cause of their foot pain, but the actual pain is caused by the inflammationor the irritation of the plantar fascia ligament.

There are many treatmentsfor heel pain, including changing of shoe gear, taking non steroidalanti-inflammatories, sometimes custom molded orthotics are needed, some patientsmay even need cortisone injections as well as physical therapy.

Shock wave treatment,which is a non-surgical treatment, can also be utilized to help relieve thepain.

If you have heel pain, theearlier the treatment the faster you will get better. Your podiatrist canusually diagnose this condition in the office and treatment can commenceimmediately.




People hiking.

HIKING FOR GOODHEALTH

There's no better way toenjoy the lush greens of summer or the fiery reds of autumn than hiking. Withthe right footwear and some common sense, it's a good way to commune with natureand improve cardiovascular fitness.

Stretching out leg musclesbefore a hike and wearing proper boots are very important for safe hiking.Hiking boots prevent mishaps on rocky trails that can injure an ankle and ruinand outing.

A good hiking boot has ahigh top for ankle support, is flexible, but has a firm outsole, excellenttraction, and water resistance enough to withstand puddles or streams withoutsoaking the feet.

Boots should be worn withsocks and laced to the top. Ill-fitting footwear invites injuries, so neverborrow anyone else's boots.

When hiking, look out forrocks that cause feet to roll and ankles to twist. If you do twist an ankle,remove the boot and rest a few minutes. Apply ice if available, and elevate thefoot. Check for swelling and discoloration - both are signs of more seriousinjury.

If you can put the bootback on without lots of pain, it's OK to make for home. But if severe paincontinues, don't try to move without assistance, wait for help. Seek treatmentfrom your podiatrist or familydoctor.



ORTHOTICS

If you've worn archsupports in the past to help you walk and move normally, you will be surprisedto learn that the new "arch supports" are not really arch supports at all.

A field of medicaltechnology called biomechanics has developed new foot supports; the new sciencedeals with human motion and can "custom make" any device you need to supportyour feet. Some people may still refer to them as "arch supports", but there isa world of difference and new comfort for those who need them so that they canbe helped to walk normally without aches and pain.

Functional foot orthoticsare made from neutral foot position castings. The practitioner then sends thecasts and clinical information to an orthotics lab. The technician reviews thecast and prescription. The orthotics are then fabricated and dispensed to thepatient. They usually require a gradual break in period of two to four weeks.After which time the patient is wearing them daily, depending on the problem,the diagnosis and how your foot responds to orthotic control.

In time the orthoticdevices will allow your feet and legs to function normally again.

ORTHOTICDEVICES

Bill has been feelinglower-back pain for a month. A weight lifter, Bill thought he could alleviatethe pain by curtailing his heavy squats. It didn't help.

Chris, a cyclist, recentlydecided to get more serious about his training. He had no trouble increasing hisdistances, but now he's mystified by persistent shin pain.

Joan, who takes aerobicsclasses four times a week, feels pain in one heel at the beginning of eachclass, but doesn't take it seriously because it gradually lessens as the hourpasses.

Three athletes, threesports, three complaints, all of which may have on solution: orthotic devices.

Properly called orthosis,orthotic devices are removable shoe inserts, custom-molded of various materials,designed to correct a foot misalignment deformity, or dysfunction. Orthoticdevices perform functions that make standing, walking and running morecomfortable and efficient, by altering slightly the angles at which feet strikea walking or running surface.

Doctors of podiatricmedicine prescribe the use of orthosis as conservative approaches to many footproblems; their use is a highly successful, practical treatment form. The aim isto improve the foot function and minimize stress forces that could otherwisecause foot deformities, which have been traced to many back, hip and kneeproblems.



SELECTING THE RIGHTSHOES

Feet bear muchof the burden for most athletic activities. Selective the right athletic shoe isas equally important as selectingthe right golf club or tennis racket. Awell-fitting, well-made and properly used athletic shoe can help reduce footproblems and increase performance.

Depending onthe sport of choice, there is a shoe to meet your foot care needs. Differentsports call for specific footwear to protect feet and ankles. For example, arunning shoe is built to accommodate the impact that concentrates on theforefoot, while a tennis shoe is made to give relatively more support to theankles, and permit sudden stops and turns

. Shoes displayed on the wall of an athletic store.

Following isa rundown of sports and recommended shoe type:

Cycling: Selecta cycling-specific shoe that is right for you among models designed for racingand mountain biking. The casual rider without known foot problems can use crosstraining shoes (i.e. combination cycling hiking shoes), which provide thenecessary support across the arch and instep in a shoe as well as the heel liftthat cycling shoes give.

Golf: Nolonger driven by fashion, today's golf shoes are constructed using basicprinciples of athletic footwear. Advanced technological innovations keep golfshoes light and add strength.

Running: Agood pair of running shoes is the most important piece of equipment for arunner. Shoe choice should be determined by weight, foot structure, and runningregimen. Shoes have different shapes, and sizes are not uniform from shoe toshoe.

Tennis: Propertennis shoes "give" enough to allow for side-to-side sliding. In addition,tennis shoes need to have padded toe boxes to prevent injuries.

Walking: Theideal walking shoe should be stable from side to side, and well cushioned, andit should enable you to walk smoothly. Running shoes are acceptable for awalking program, but specialty-walking shoes tend to be slightly less cushioned,not as bulky and lighter than running shoes.

Proper fitis the key in selecting athletic shoes. Keep these tips in mind when you'rebuying athletic shoes:
*Have yourfeet measured while you're standing*Alwaystry on both shoes, and walk in the shoes before buyingthem*Buy forthe larger foot; feet are rarely the same size*Shoesshould feel comfortable immediately, not needing a break-in period*Shop forshoes later in the day; feet swell during the day*Be surethat the widest part of your foot corresponds to the widest part of theshoe*Try onshoes while you're wearing the same type of sock you'll be wearing with theshoe.



SENIOR'S FEET NEED EXTRATLC

America's senior citizensare more active than ever before - and their quality of life is all the betterfor it. But no matter what their exercise, be it walking, biking, or even a setof tennis, the feet of these active adults need extra protection to preventinjury and preserve comfort.

Feet are designed toremain healthy for a lifetime, and if they begin to hurt it simply means thatsomething is wrong. Bones in the feet of older men and women naturally becomemore fragile and the feet's natural cushioning also tends to become thinner withage, with an accompanying loss of shock-absorbing ability.

For these conditions,shoes with good shock-absorbing soles, cushion insoles, and shoe inserts ororthotic devices prescribed by a podiatrist should keep seniors in the swing ofthings.

lder people's feet alsoshow other signs of wear and tear, including a tendency for them to spread. Insuch cases, wider shoes should be the order of the day.

Feet are marvels ofengineering, but even the most sophisticated pieces of equipment need routinecare and maintenance. Regular foot examinations by your doctor of podiatricmedicine are the best insurance for pain-free activity in the yearahead.



SMOKING: UNHEALTHY DOWN TO YOURFEET

The dangers of cigarettesmoking are well publicized, but many people may not realize the health risks ofsmoking extend down to the feet.

Smokers notice their feetand hands feel cold after lighting up outdoors in the cold weather. That'sbecause the nicotine in tobacco smoke constricts the blood vessels, particularlythe small veins and capillaries in the extremities.

But the danger is greaterthan just cold feet. Constriction of the blood vessels by smoking leads toneuropathy - nerve damage that results in a loss of feeling in the feet.

When you can't feel pain,heat or cold in the feet, injuries go unnoticed. Neuropathic feet also have lessblood flowing to naturally fight the infections that come with usuallyinconsequential wounds like punctures, scratches, or even ingrown toenails.

Because the body's abilityto fight infections is diminished, they can fester and degrade into a seriouscondition like gangrene, which could lead to amputation.

Your podiatric physiciancan treat neuropathy with medication, but he or she will tell you that quittingsmoking is the most important step to regaining healthy feet. Unless the sourceof the problem is corrected, treatment can't fully restore circulation.

If you smoke, inspect yourfeet regularly and have them evaluated by a podiatrist. If your feet suffer fromsmoking, just think what's happening to the rest of your body.



UNDERSTANDING GOUT

gout

For many people, gout isa subject of humor. Some remember the original comic strip, "The Captain and the(Katzen-jammer) Kids", in which the captain frequently was put out of action bygout in his big toe, which he suffered because his appetite for rich food anddrink was legendary.

For people withgout, it is anything but humorous. It can be excruciatingly painful, some saythe most intense pain a man can experience. It's often connected to rich diets,with lots of red wine and brandy.

Gout is a formof arthritis, which strikes the lining of the joints. The big toe joint is acommon target. Gout is caused by the body's inability to process uric acid,which leads to buildup of the acid's salts in the blood stream, and theireventual deposit in a joint. The joint becomes inflamed, swollen, and painful tothe touch.

You can getsome relief by applying warm compresses and elevating the foot.

However, youshould also see a doctor of podiatric medicine, who can prescribe drugs thatwill relieve the pain and inflammation, and decrease the accumulation of uricacid crystals in the joint. The podiatrist will also tell you that gout leftuntreated can lead to some more serious afflictions, and that your diet probablyneeds revision.


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