Systemic Diseases of the Foot
There are several systemic diseases, or diseases that affect the whole body, that either display symptoms in the feet or affect the health of the feet. Common systemic diseases that affect the overall health of the feet, and the patient’s ability to walk comfortably, include gout, diabetes mellitus, neurological disorders, and arthritis.
In gout, which is caused by an excessive buildup of uric acid in the body, the most common symptoms of pain, inflammation, and redness occur at the metatarsal/phalangeal joint at the base of the big toe. Any excess levels of uric acid, crystallize and are deposited in tendons, joints, and surrounding bone and muscle tissue. Gout is commonly treated with NSAIDs to relieve pain and inflammation and other drugs to lower uric acid levels in the body. Gout most commonly affects those who are overweight, have low protein diets and lead a more sedentary lifestyle.
Diabetes mellitus is an increase in the level of blood sugar in which the body cannot counteract with naturally occurring insulin in the body. The three types of diabetes, Type I, Type II and Gestational Diabetes, are all signs the body is either not producing enough insulin or is not efficiently using the insulin that is produced. Gestational diabetes only affects women who are pregnant and have never, prior to pregnancy, exhibited symptoms of the disease.
There are two main issues that affect the feet that are commonly caused by diabetes. They include diabetic neuropathy and peripheral vascular disease. Diabetic neuropathy can lead to damaged nerves and affect the feet through numbness and loss of sensation. Peripheral vascular disease restricts the flow of blood to the foot and can, in extreme cases, lead to the necessity of amputating the foot. Peripheral issues that are caused by diabetes and can affect the foot include athlete’s foot, nail infections, corns, blisters, bunions, severe dry skin, plantar warts and ingrown toenails. These can all be attributed to the decrease of blood flow to the foot.
Neurological disorders and rheumatoid arthritis can also have severe impact on the health of the feet. Neurological disorders can affect the nerves in the main structure of the foot and cause loss of sensation and possible decreased muscle response. Rheumatoid arthritis can affect the bones and joint structures of the foot, making it impossible to walk normally without serious pain.
All systemic diseases that affect the foot can effectively be treated to minimize joint and muscle damage if they are diagnosed early and treated with medication and lifestyle therapy. Diabetes patients must monitor their blood sugar levels and work with their physician to keep their levels as close to normal as possible. Rheumatoid arthritis patients should work with their physician to ensure the proper medications are being taken to reduce the amount of damage to the joints of the body.
Treating Heel Pain with Shockwave Therapy
Shockwave therapy is a treatment option that helps to treat plantar fascia, which is a type of heel and foot inflammation that causes pain to the heel area. This type of injury is often caused by overworking and overusing the feet, and normally happens to people that exercise often such as runners, athletes, obese and overweight individuals, and individuals whose profession requires them to stand for long periods of time.
Since heel pain can be caused by a number of problems including poorly fitting shoes, exercise routines, work hazards, and many more, most plantar fascia treatments include very conservative techniques. Simple things like new shoes, taking ibuprofen, doing heel and foot exercises, and resting your feet can treat the problem. However, for the worst cases, using shockwave therapy is often the best treatment option.
For patients that have tried conventional treatment options, and failed at them, and who have been having heel pain for over six months, Shockwave treatment is often the next option. The concept behind this treatment is simple; shockwaves are generated from a device that delivers shockwaves to the outside of the patients body, and the shockwaves will cause the body’s repair mechanisms to work more efficiently and effectively, and in the end, start repairing the damage done to the heel area.
The goal of shockwave therapy is to eliminate the pain in the heel area, and this should happen because shockwaves trigger the body’s natural repair mechanisms. Basically, this therapy speeds up normal tissue healing in the body, and will also lead to a reduction in pain for the patient by working the pain transmission nerves located in the heel area.
The reason this treatment is gaining popularity is because it is less invasive than surgery, and eliminates the risk factors associated with surgery, such as anesthetic usage. Since this technique also works by helping the body to improve using natural healing techniques, the recovery time should be shorter than surgical processes.
This does not mean that there are not some discomfort issues that can arise out of this treatment for patients. Short term issues normally include skin bruising, minor pain during and after treatment, swelling of the heel, and discolored tissue. These side effects of shockwave therapy should be gone in a few days, giving the patient a fast recovery time which makes it easy to return to the routines of their daily life.
Like most types of treatments, surgeries, and medications, there are certain people that should not have shockwave therapy procedures performed on them. Potential patients with heart conditions and people with pacemakers should not be considered for this technique. People on certain types of medications, usually medications affecting blood clotting, would also be ineligible for this treatment option. And lastly, children and pregnant women should avoid this as well.
Overall, shockwave therapy could be a great option for heel pain because it is less invasive than surgery, helps to trigger the natural healing mechanisms of the body, and should be considered by people who have had long bouts of heel pain and have tried conventional treatment options that failed.
Sport Related Foot And Ankle Injuries
Foot and ankle injuries are common among people who participate in sports. Several factors contribute to this. They include failing to stretch or warm up properly, not wearing the proper type of shoe and not taping or providing other types of support for the ankle or foot. The most common foot and ankle injuries suffered by people involved in sport are plantar fasciitis, ankle sprains and Achilles tendon damage or ruptures. If not treated properly they can lead to permanent disability.
Plantar fasciitis is a painful condition. It is inflammation of the plantar fascia, the thick fibrous band of tissue running from the heel to the base of the toes. There are several effective treatments for this ailment. Doctors often proscribe rest, massages, stretching, night splints, physical therapy, anti-inflammatory medication, corticosteroids or surgery usually in that order. The most effective treatment for plantar fasciitis is orthotics, such as foot supports. Surgery is occasionally used as a last resort.
The Achilles tendon is the largest tendon in the body. It connects the calf muscles to the heel bone. Running, jumping and walking all impact this tendon. Two common injuries to the Achilles tendon are tendonitis and a rupture of the tendon. Tendonitis is inflammation in the tendon often caused by an increase in the amount and intensity of stress placed on it. It can either be treated non-surgically with rest, ice or anti-inflammatory medication or surgery may be required. A rupture (tear) of the Achilles tendon can be treated by placing the lower leg in a cast for several weeks or with surgery. Many physicians feel surgery is the better option because it lowers the risk of re-ruptures. Both methods require 4 to 6 months of rehabilitation.
Ankle sprains are the most common sports related foot and ankle injury. A sprain occurs when the ligament holding the ankle bones and joint stretches beyond its normal range. It can be treated non-surgically with a combination of rest, ice wrapped around the joint for 30 minutes immediately after injury, compression by a bandage and elevating the ankle above the heart for 48 hours. This combination is referred to as RICE. Severe ankle sprains in which the ligaments are torn may require arthroscopic or reconstructive surgery followed by rehabilitation
Treating these injuries is relatively simple if they are identified and addressed early. Many athletes dismiss the initial aches and pains associated with injury as just soreness or tired muscles. Their first response is usually to try to work through it. This can lead to serious problems. Many minor injuries are made far more serious when athletes continue to put strain and pressure on them. That attitude can change a mild strain into a serious strain and a minor tear into a rupture. Athletes should have unusual aches and pains evaluated by a skilled, licensed medical professional.
What to Know About a Broken Toe
Trauma to the foot, especially the toes, can occur in many ways. Banging them, stubbing them, or dropping something on them are a few different ways this trauma can occur. Given the fact that toes are positioned in front of the feet, they typically sustain the brunt of such trauma. When trauma occurs to a toe, the result can be a painful break or fracture. Another type of trauma that can break a toe is repeated activity that places stress on the toe for prolonged periods of time.
Broken toes can be categorized as either minor or severe fractures. Symptoms of minor toe fractures include throbbing pain, swelling, bruising on the skin and toenail, and the inability to move the toe with ease. Severe toe fractures require medical attention and are indicated when the broken toe appears crooked or disfigured, when there is tingling or numbness in the toe, or when there is an open, bleeding wound present on the toe.
Generally, a minor toe break will heal without long-term complications, but it is important to discontinue activities that put pressure on the toe. It is best to stay off of the injured toe and immediately get a splint or cast to prevent any additional movement of the toe bones. You can also immobilize your toe by placing a small cotton ball between the injured toe and the toe beside it, then taping the two toes together with medical tape. Swelling can be alleviated by placing an ice pack on the broken toe directly as well as elevating your feet above your head.
Severe toe fractures may be treated with a splint, cast, and in some cases, minor surgery; especially when the big toe has been broken. Due to its position and the pressure it endures with daily activity, future complications can occur if the big toe is not properly treated. Pain associated with minor toe fractures can be managed with over-the-counter pain medications, and prescription pain killers may be necessary for severe toe fractures.
The healing time for a broken toe is approximately four to six weeks. In severe cases where the toe becomes infected or requires surgery, healing time can take up to eight weeks or more. While complications associated with a broken toe are immediately apparent, it is important to note that there are rare cases when additional complications, such as osteoarthritis, can develop over time. You should immediately speak with your podiatrist if you think you have broken your toe due to trauma, as they will be able to diagnose the injury and recommend the appropriate treatment options.