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Plantar Fasciitis Prevention and Treatment

If you have ever felt a stabbing, burning, or dull pain in the heel of the foot, you may have a condition called plantar fasciitis. There is a tough fibrous band of tissue that runs from the heel to the toes and helps support the arch of the foot, called plantar fascia. It can become irritated and inflamed and make standing or walking a nightmare.

Plantar fasciitis is commonly caused a lack of adequate arch support, which leads to inflammation and damage of the plantar fascia tissue.

What Actually Causes Plantar Fascia?

There is no single cause of plantar fasciitis but rather a group of risk factors that increase the chance of it developing. These risk factors include: being overweight or obese, an internal structure problem in the foot, a sudden increase in a person’s physical activity levels, and inadequate footwear. A combination of these factors can significantly increase your risk of developing the condition. 

What is the Treatment for Plantar Fasciitis?

Most doctors recommend rest, moderation in physical activity, and adequate arch support as treatment for plantar fasciitis.

To control inflammation and pain symptoms, doctors often recommend anti-inflammatory medications to take when symptoms appear. When this doesn’t work, you may choose to get corticosteroid injections in the heel to help with the pain.

Surgery is generally a last resort option for plantar fasciitis and a very small percentage of patients need it. Generally, a combination of the treatments described above do the trick to relieve symptoms and heal the foot.

How to Best Avoid Developing Plantar Fasciitis

The best way to avoid getting plantar fasciitis is a multi-pronged prevention approach. This will include reducing risk factors that lead to plantar fascia inflammation. Here are some ways you can prevent plantar fasciitis developing in your feet.

  • Make certain you wear footwear that offers proper support to the heel.
  • Maintain a healthy weight according to your body frame. This will keep unnecessary pressure off of your feet.
  • Perform exercise in moderation and stop when your body tells you it’s had enough.
  • If you feel pain in the heel, stop and let your feet rest for a few days before resuming physically demanding activities.
  • Talk to an orthopedic physician. If you feel any signs of pain in the heel of your foot, talk to an orthopedic physician immediately to get examined. Your physician will diagnose you (if necessary) and recommend lifestyle changes or treatment, as appropriate. Plantar fasciitis pain gets worse with time when left untreated, so it’s best to see a doctor early on.

Plantar Fasciitis Pain in Colorado Springs, Colorado

If you are feeling pain in the heels of your feet, it’s time to see an orthopedic physician to get diagnosed and treated. If you live in Colorado Springs, Colorado, consider seeing the experts at the Colorado Center for Orthopedic Excellence. Their physicians have substantial experience treating all types of orthopedic issues such as plantar fasciitis and would love to help you get better. To make an appointment, call (719) 623-1050 or request an appointment online.  

How to Tell if You Have a Toenail Fungus

Microscopic fungi are everywhere. Gyms, pools, locker rooms, hot tubs, and saunas provide excellent breeding grounds for fungal infections. If you walk barefoot in a locker room and then immediately put on socks, those fungi can reproduce exponentially on your feet and toes.

Your toes are responsible to help you balance as you stand, walk, and run – so proper foot care is crucial as they bear the entire weight of your body every day. If toenails are showing a sudden change, it’s a good idea to seek a doctor’s opinion.

Toenail fungal infections are more common in older people. This is due to their reduced blood flow and the fact that their nails are growing more slowly, allowing more time for fungi to grow unhindered.

Signs of Toenail Fungus

A change in the toenails could indicate a fungus. Symptoms can include:

  • Thickening of the nails
  • Nails emanating a foul odor
  • Change in coloration or texture
  • Nail begins to crumble or feels brittle
  • Feels painful
  • Nail starts to separate from its bed

A first sign is usually a yellow or white spot underneath the tip of the nail. This spreads from there, going deeper and spreading to other toes.

What Causes a Fungal Infection in the Feet?

If your feet are damp or sweaty, fungi can take root under the nails of the toes. Common causes of toenail fungus include the dermatophyte fungus, mold, yeast, or simply athlete’s foot (tinea pedis).

Additional factors can contribute to a toenail infection, such as trauma to the nail, lack of daily hygiene, and certain vascular diseases. If you regularly swim in a pool, the continual exposure to water can increase your risk of fungal exposure.

How to Prevent Toenail Fungus

The easiest way to combat toenail fungus is to change your socks and shoes often, especially after exercising. Whenever you’re in any kind of communal setting involving wet feet, like a locker room, wear flip-flops and avoid exposing your bare feet to any common surface.

It’s always a good idea to wash your feet with antibacterial soap. When exercising, wear shoes that allow for proper ventilation and wear socks that are made with a breathable or wicking material.

Orthopedic Doctors for Foot Care

Many people don’t realize just how vital proper foot care really is until they have an infection that’s difficult to treat. The medical professionals at the Colorado Center of Orthopaedic Excellence realize how important caring for each and every part of the body is to maintaining the body in top condition. 

We are an Official Orthopaedic Medicine Provider of the Olympics as an Olympic Training Center. We achieved this designation because our team is specially trained in treating sports injuries, including issues involving the feet, muscles, and joints.

Our team offers top-notch medical care and state-of-the-art techniques and technologies – diagnosing and treating professional athletes and amateurs alike – right here in Colorado Springs.

Call us today at (719) 623-1050 to schedule an appointment, or fill out our simple online appointment request form. We look forward to helping you get back on your feet again!

Foot Care for Arthritis Tips

Arthritis is an inflammation of the joints. When our joints become inflamed, it can cause pain, tenderness, swelling, and stiffness.

Arthritis in the feet and ankles can be especially painful and bothersome, affecting how we walk and function on a daily basis. While there are many different types of arthritis, there are three types that most often cause foot and ankle pain.

These types of arthritis are osteoarthritis (known as just “arthritis,” or wear-and-tear/aging arthritis), rheumatoid arthritis (an autoimmune disease), and post-traumatic arthritis (caused by an injury or fracture).

How Arthritis Affects the Feet and Ankles

Our feet each have more than 30 joints – many of them are tiny. The joints in our feet that are most commonly affected by arthritis are:

  • The joint where the ankle and shin bone meet
  • The joint where the big toe meets the foot bone
  • The joints connecting to the heel bone, inner mid-foot bone, and outer mid-foot bone

Symptoms of foot and ankle arthritis can include trouble walking or weight-bearing.

Ways to Care for Your Feet

If you’ve been diagnosed with foot and ankle arthritis, there are several treatment options available. Let’s talk about these different options and what they entail.

Nonsurgical Treatment Options for Foot Arthritis

Your doctor may try several things before deciding on surgery. Nonsurgical treatment options include:

  • Steroids injected into the joint
  • Anti-inflammatories and pain relievers
  • Physical therapy
  • Weight control
  • Joint-supporting canes
  • Foot/ankle braces
  • Arch supports
  • Orthotics

Your physician may even recommend a combination of those treatments to see what works best for you.

Custom Shoes

Perhaps the most important way to care for your feet and ankles if you have arthritis is to wear shoes that are comfortable, supportive, and properly sized for your feet. When searching, you should ensure that the shoes you buy:

  • Have good heel counter and arch support
  • Have extra cushioning in the mid-soles and outer-soles
  • Have nonslip outsoles
  • Are flexible
  • Can be worn with padded socks (without feeling too tight)
  • Have rubber soles
  • Are shaped like your feet
  • Are not slip-ons or high heels 

Exercise

If you’re suffering from foot and ankle osteoarthritis, the last thing you may want to hear is that you should exercise. However, believe it or not, exercise can help relieve pain in your feet.

Exercise can also help keep your feet and ankles strong and flexible. Your orthopedist or physical therapist can show you exercises that can help with your foot and ankle arthritis, such as big-toe stretches, toe pulls, toe curls, and Achilles stretches.

Self-Care

When it comes to your body, no one knows it better than you do. As such, there are self-care steps you can do to help keep your feet healthy in order to control your foot and ankle arthritis, including:

  • Daily foot inspections
  • Daily foot washes with lukewarm water (be sure to completely dry off your feet afterward)
  • Avoiding exposure by always wearing shoes
  • Not cutting your own toenails
  • Not cutting or filing corns, calluses, or other foot protrusions
  • Not using harsh chemicals on your feet (such as wart removers)
  • Staying active to maintain good circulation

Surgery

If other treatment methods have not proven effective to treat your foot and ankle arthritis, your orthopedist may recommend surgery.

This can include fusion surgery, which involves fusing bones together using screws, pins, rods, and/or plates. Another type of surgery is joint replacement surgery, which involves replacing all or part of the arthritic joint with an artificial implant (prosthesis).

Orthopedists in Colorado Springs

Is your foot arthritis getting you down? The board-certified doctors at Colorado Center of Orthopaedic Excellence are here to help you care for your arthritis and any orthopedic issues you may have. We pride ourselves in providing the best care possible and delivering that care with compassion and respect.

Call us today at (719) 623-1050 to request a consultation, or use our online appointment request form right now. We look forward to helping you live a more active lifestyle with less pain, so you can get back to the life you love.

Do You Need to Have Bunions Removed?

A bunion is a rather common deformity of the foot. Bunions most often occur in females and usually are caused by wearing high-heeled shoes or shoes that are too tight, pointed, or narrow. Bunions can also be hereditary. Medical conditions like osteoarthritis can also contribute to the formation of a bunion. Most people who have bunions simply resign themselves that they are a part of life, surely unsightly and sometimes painful, but far from a medical emergency. But what if the bunions become too painful or make it hard to do the things you love to do? Do you need to have your bunions removed?

How Do Bunions Form?

Bunions occur when pressure causes the bones at the base of the big toe to become misaligned. Over time, this pressure causes the base of the big toe to become enlarged and sometimes even filled with fluid.  This causes a large and often painful bump to form at the joint on the side of the foot, near the big toe. In addition to the bunion itself, the skin at the bottom of your foot can also thicken, causing painful calluses to form. The bunion and the calluses can make it difficult and painful to walk, wear shoes, or even bend your toes. In addition to being painful, a bunion can make your foot look deformed or awkward by forcing your big toe to lean towards your second toe, and the other toes lean into or overlap each other.

Treatment Options

To diagnose a bunion, your doctor will review your medical history, and examine and take x-rays of your foot. The x-rays show the doctor the alignment and condition of the bones in your foot. If the doctor determines that you indeed have a bunion, there are several treatment options available, which include:

Changing shoes:  Sometimes simply changing to a wider or properly fitting shoe with a lower heel can alleviate the pain and may help treat the bunion.

Protective padding:  Wearing foam or felt pads – sometimes called spreaders – between your toes or on your foot can help protect the foot from further callousing and force the bones to realign over time.

Shoe inserts:  A foot specialist can create custom-made inserts, often called orthotics, that can properly position your toes to relieve the pressure and pain.

When Surgery Becomes an Option

Surgery becomes a valid option when the above non-surgical treatments provide little relief to restore the alignment of the bones, tendons, joints, nerves, and ligaments.  During surgery, the toes are placed in their proper positions and the bump is removed, thereby relieving pain and restoring function over time. There are many different surgical techniques for treating bunions, most of which yield excellent results.

Is It Necessary to Have Surgery to Remove Bunions?

The choice to remove bunions surgically is a personal one. If your bunion is not painful and doesn’t bother you, then you may opt not to get surgery. However, bunions do get bigger with time. If you’ve tried non-surgical treatments and they did not help your pain, or if your bunion has become so large that it impedes your daily activities, then you may want to speak to your doctor about surgery. Many people find that the pain from bunions is so severe or that their foot is so severely deformed that the benefits of having the bunions removed far outweigh any negatives.  Many patients report a big improvement in quality of life after having their bunions removed.

Is your bunion getting in the way of your life? The board-certified podiatric surgeons at Colorado Center of Orthopaedic Excellence specialize in treating foot and ankle conditions such as bunions. We ensure the best patient care possible, combined with compassion and respect.  If you have any questions, or to schedule an appointment, call (719) 623-1050 or use our online form to request an appointment online.

Five Disorders that Podiatrists Can Treat

There’s an Irish proverb:  “Your feet will bring you to where your heart is.” But what about when your feet are hurting?  Taking that first step to where your heart is can be harder than you think.

Recent research from Stanford University found that the average American takes nearly 5,000 steps daily – and that’s not counting running or working out. There’s no denying your feet are the body’s workhorses, which makes them susceptible to a variety of structural, biomechanical, and cosmetic issues. A board-certified podiatric surgeon can be a valuable resource, offering techniques and procedures to mitigate your pain from a variety of conditions, as well as increase your mobility.   Here are five disorders you can rely on your podiatrist to treat:

1.   Plantar Fasciitis

The plantar fascia is a thick band of tissue that runs along the bottom of the foot, joining your heel bone with your toes.  Runners, people carrying excessive weight (whether overweight, pregnant, or forced to carry heavy objects such as backpacks or equipment), and those in occupations that require prolonged standing, are all at risk at developing plantar fasciitis. Inadequate or unsupportive footwear is another culprit. This painful condition, which is marked by a stabbing pain underneath the foot, is one of the most commonly cited reasons for heel pain.

How it’s treated. A podiatrist may recommend several at-home remedies to alleviate your pain. This could include maintaining a healthy weight, ice massage, investing in the appropriate shoes with the right fit and support, and switching to a low-impact sport.  A foot and ankle specialist will be able to diagnose this condition, as well as test for pain with a pressure test. They may recommend rigid, custom orthotic inserts that will realign the foot, provide arch support, and prevent this issue in the future.  Offering treatment round the clock, a night splint will provide consistent, automatic stretching during shuteye – making morning time a little less unpleasant.  He may also recommend anti-inflammatories, physical therapy, and deep icing.

2.   Bunions

Their medical name, Hallus Valgus, sound impressive.  But in reality, this lofty name is nothing but bunions, and anyone with bunions already has enough names to call this painful, unsightly condition.  To understand Hallus Valgus, you must first understand how they form. Developing gradually over time, bunions form as pressure on the big toe that pushes it toward the second toe. This can cause structural changes when the joints becomes misaligned, resulting in the large protruding lump that is the most common characteristic of bunions.  Smaller bunions are called “bunionettes,” but don’t let the cute name fool you.  They are just as unsightly and painful as their larger cousins.

How they’re treated. A reputable podiatrist will first offer conservative approaches; this could include bunion padding, icing, toe spacers, orthotics, and/or a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication to reduce swelling. Should the pain persist, the doctor might recommend a bunionectomy, where the surgeon will shave down the bunion and realign the toes.

3.   Athlete’s foot

Athlete’s foot, known as Tinea Pedia, is the most common type of fungal infection.  This fungus gravitates toward the feet because shoes and places like locker rooms and pool decks promote the warm, moist, dark breeding ground where fungus thrive. 

How it’s treated. Your podiatrist can prescribe topical or oral antifungal meds to make it disappear. If bacteria are to blame, you may require an antibiotic.

4.   Diabetes

Diabetics are no stranger to podiatric concerns as a result of high blood sugar and reduced nerve functioning, which can prevent the skin from healing and reduce blood flow to the feet, respectively.

How it’s treated. Ten percent of all diabetics experience a foot ulcer at some point in their life. One of the most startling aspects is that diabetics often don’t notice foot pain until after the ulcer has formed. Podiatrists can provide yearly foot examinations to determine if a patient shows any symptoms. They can also “dress” and protect the affected area, so it may heal properly.

5.   Gout

Many people are aware that arthritis can take a toll on the hands, but what about the feet? When high levels of uric acid build up the blood, urate crystals form near the joints causing abrupt, severe attacks of pain, inflammation, redness, and tenderness in the joints.

How it’s treated.  Gout usually manifests in the joint at the bottom of the big toe, and often is triggered by food and drinks with greater levels of uric acid, such as meat, shellfish, and poultry. Your physician can recommend which items to steer clear of; he may also suggest a regimen of NSAIDs and corticosteroids to control pain and reduce inflammation. In some cases, a uric-acid blocker may be prescribed.

Don’t walk away from podiatric issues! Address them head on with the help of a reputable and trustworthy podiatric specialist. Dr. Frederick Hainge of The Colorado Center for Orthopaedic Excellence is a board-certified podiatric surgeon who diagnoses and treats a variety of foot and ankle disorders. For happy feet, take that first step and schedule an appointment today by calling 719-623-1050.

Foot Care for Arthritis

We rely on our feet for stability and movement. Feet are complex structures that support our weight and provide the ability to move in amazing ways. In fact, there are 28 bones and more than 30 joints in each foot! Although we take them for granted when everything feels fine, feet are unfortunately more prone to injury and conditions such as arthritis. Possible consequences of arthritis of the foot include pain, swelling, stiffness, and loss of mobility. Proper foot care for arthritis can help minimize these symptoms.

Types of foot arthritis

There are more than 100 different kinds of arthritis that can affect the joints of the foot, but most cases belong to one of three categories: osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and posttraumatic arthritis.

 

Osteoarthritis is the most common, caused by wear and tear of the joints over time. Most people with osteoarthritis are over 50 but it can occur in younger people. Repeated stress of the joints wears away the cartilage in one or more joints. The bones of the joint then rub together painfully and bone spurs may develop. This condition may result in a bunion.

 

Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disorder. Nobody knows the exact cause, but it is thought to be a combination of genetic and environmental factors. Often beginning in the foot, the immune system attacks the synovium, or lining of the joints. This causes painful swelling that can result in permanent deformity.

 

Posttraumatic arthritis develops after an injury, usually a fracture. People who have had an injury to the foot are much more likely to develop arthritis later on. This type of arthritis involves the wearing away of cartilage, similar to osteoarthritis. It can occur at any age if there has been a foot injury.

 

Foot arthritis care

Although there is no cure for arthritis, there are steps you can take to relieve pain and increase flexibility.

 

Weight loss – obesity increases the risk of developing arthritis due to increased pressure on the joints. Losing weight, even a small amount, can make a big difference in reducing pressure and pain.

NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) such as ibuprofen and naproxen can be very effective in reducing swelling and relieving pain.

Physical therapy and exercise can increase mobility through flexibility and strengthening of supporting muscles.

Changing activities – If high impact activities are part of your routine, consider changing to something less likely to put stress on the joints of your feet. Walking, swimming, and yoga are good examples or exercises that are low-impact.

Orthotic devices and comfortable shoes – shoe inserts can relieve pressure on damaged joints and reduce pain when walking. High heels and point-toed shoes should be avoided. Shoes should be wide enough so that your foot is not being squeezed (especially if you have a bunion) with a square-toed front.

Apply cold packs – Cold helps reduce swelling and numbs painful joints, especially after you’ve been on your feet for a significant period of time.

Assistive devices – a cane can be a good way to reduce the amount of weight placed on your foot when walking.

 

If you have arthritis of the foot, your doctor can help determine the best treatment plan for your unique condition and activities. At the Colorado Center for Orthopaedic Excellence, our caring providers are experts in all kinds of foot and ankle conditions, including arthritis. In the Colorado Springs area, call (719) 623-1050 for an appointment today.

Why Diabetic Patients Need to See their Podiatrist

Taking proper care of your feet is one of the most important precautionary steps people with diabetes can do for their long-term health. That’s why primary care physicians will often recommend patients who have diabetes to visit a podiatrist regularly. If you’re wondering what the correlation between diabetes and foot care is, we can help to understand the connection. 

All diabetic patients should see a podiatrist, as a foot exam by your podiatrist can tell you if you are at risk for complications. In other words, every person with diabetes should pay careful attention to the areas of the body that diabetes can directly affect, including the heart (cardiovascular system), kidneys (renal system), eyes, and most commonly the feet. Therefore, it is recommended that every patient with diabetes have an annual checkup.

As far as the feet are concerned, people with diabetes can have severe, even life-threatening foot problems if left untreated. In other words, individuals with lifelong diabetes are at a higher risk for developing foot pain and discomfort.

The manifestation of foot ulcers and nerve pain is significantly higher among diabetics, greatly increasing their risk of undergoing amputation. This can happen due to the fact that diabetes can cause problems with the circulatory and nervous systems of the body. Essentially, diabetes can cause:

  • Decreased foot blood flow (circulatory problems)
  • Decreased infection fighting capability (weak immune system)
  • Numbness of the feet

According to research, each year more than 65,000 lower limbs are amputated due to complications from diabetes. By including a podiatrist in your diabetes care regimen, you can reduce the risk of amputation by up to 85 percent.

Podiatrists play an integral role in amputation prevention by performing regular foot screenings, for early recognition of diabetes related changes. The earlier any complications are recognized, the better the outcome and treatment will be. During your annual exams, a podiatrist will look for the following diabetes warning signs:

  • Dry cracks in the skin
  • Ingrown and fungal toenails
  • Numbness in the feet or toes
  • Open sores on the feet that are slow to heal
  • Swelling of the foot or ankle
  • Pain in the legs 
  • Skin color changes
  • Bleeding corns and calluses

Regularly visiting a podiatrist can help patients keep their foot conditions in check and maintain healthy sugar levels. A podiatry expert can offer them valuable advice about preventing foot complications by opting for comfortable and well-fitted footwear. These routine appointments also allow them to keep a tab on your foot health and catch symptoms early. With that said, having a podiatrist at your service, will reassure those with diabetes that they are in control of their health.

To learn more about why diabetics need to see their podiatrist on a consistent basis, call Colorado Center of Orthopaedic Excellence in Colorado Springs at (719) 623-1050 or request an appointment online.