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Monday, 24 September 2018 00:00

Although rheumatoid arthritis attacks multiple bones and joints throughout the entire body, ninety percent of people who actually develop this condition usually do so in the foot or ankle area. Those who develop this kind of arthritis in the feet usually develop symptoms around the toes and forefeet first, before anywhere else. Rheumatoid arthritis appears to have a genetic component. If it runs in the family, then you will be more likely to develop it as well.

Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disorder in which the body’s own immune system attacks the lining of the membranes surrounding the joints. This causes inflammation of the membrane lining, and the gradual destruction of the joint’s cartilage and even bone.

Some of the most common symptoms that are associated with RA include pain and swelling of the feet. Stiffness in the feet is also another common symptom that people experience. Those who have RA in the feet usually feel the pain in the ball or sole of their feet. This can get to be very painful at times. A person's joints can even shift and become deformed after a period of time.

In order to properly diagnose RA in the feet it is usually necessary for a doctor or podiatrist to evaluate the area. Your doctor will also question you about your medical history, occupation, etc., to determine whether anything in your lifestyle may have triggered the condition. There are a number of tests that may be performed to help diagnose RA, such as a rheumatoid factor test. There is, however, no one single test that will tell you for sure if you have RA. There are different X-rays that can be taken as well to determine if a person has RA in their feet.

There is a range of treatment options for rheumatoid arthritis. Treatment of RA is usually a lifelong process that includes a variety of methods of treatment and therapy. Your doctor can prescribe special shoes that should help with arch support as well as heel support. A physical therapist can help those with this condition learn exercises which will keep their joints flexible. Surgery may be needed to correct some of the issues with the feet, such as bunions, and hammertoes. Fusion is usually the most successful surgical option for rheumatoid arthritis. However, people need to keep in mind that there are some risks associated with these surgeries.

Monday, 17 September 2018 00:00

Fungal infection of the toenail, or onychomycosis, typically appears as a gradual change in a toenail’s texture and color that involves brittleness and darkening.  The fungal infection itself occurs beneath the surface of the nail.  Aside from discoloration, other symptoms include the collection of debris beneath the nail plate, white marks on the nail plate, and a foul odor emanating from the nail.  If ignored, the infection can spread into other nails and the skin; in severe cases, it can hinder one’s ability to work or walk. 

The toenails are particularly vulnerable to contracting infection in moist environments where people are likely to be walking barefoot, such as around swimming pools, public showers, and locker rooms.  Fungal infection may also be more likely to occur in nail beds that have been injured, and sufferers of chronic diseases such as diabetes, circulatory problems, or immunodeficiency conditions are particularly prone to developing fungal nails. 

Fungal nails can be primarily prevented by practicing proper hygiene and regularly examining the feet and toes.  Carefully washing the feet with soap and water and thoroughly drying the feet afterwards are essential.  Other tips include wearing shower shoes in public areas, changing shoes and socks daily, keeping toenails clipped at a short length, wearing breathable shoes that fit properly, wearing moisture-wicking socks, and disinfecting home pedicure tools and instruments used to cut nails.

Fungal nail treatment may vary between patients and the severity of the condition.  Your podiatrist may suggest a daily routine of cleansing that spans over a period of time to ease mild infections.  Over-the-counter or prescription antifungal agents may also be prescribed, including topical and/or oral medications.  Debridement, or the removal of diseased nail matter and debris, may also be performed.  In more severe cases, surgical treatment may be needed.  In some instances, the temporary removal of the fungal nail allows for the direct application of a topical antifungal to the nail bed.  In other cases, a chronically painful fungal nail that has not responded to other treatments may be permanently removed; this allows the infection to be cured and avoids the growth of a deformed nail.  

Monday, 10 September 2018 00:00

According to the American Diabetes Association (ADA), diabetes is a condition that affects approximately 23.6 million Americans.  Around 750,000 new cases are diagnosed each year, and the disease’s most common form, Type 2 diabetes, makes up for 90 to 95 percent of these cases.  Type 2 diabetes is especially prevalent among older Americans, those who are obese, and those who lead sedentary lifestyles.

Complications of the disease may lead to several foot and ankle-related conditions.  The loss of nerve sensation, or neuropathy, can cause diabetics to lose feeling at the bottom of the feet and therefore leave them unaware of pain, pressure, and heat.  Decreased circulation is another complication of diabetes that can slow down the healing of wounds and injuries; this can lead to the development of foot ulcers.

To prevent foot ulcers from forming, diabetics should examine their feet every day for small cuts and wear shoes that curtail pressure.  Constant monitoring for the risk factors associated with ulcer formation can allow for early detection and therefore lessen the possibility of ulcers or, even worse, amputation.  The removal of calluses and ingrown toenails should be left to the podiatrist to avoid improper removal and possible infection.

Diabetic patients may also experience foot deformities due to complications in their feet, such as limited joint mobility, muscle atrophy, and decreased fat padding.  These complications can increase pressure in certain areas of the foot, which in turn can cause certain deformities, such as hammertoe, to form.  Another deformity, Charcot foot, develops due to the collapsing of microfractures in the bones of the feet.  The resulting deformity is a foot that is flattened and wider in appearance.

To help minimize pressure and prevent the development of these diabetes-related foot and ankle conditions, your podiatrist may consider using orthotics or special shoes.  Charcot foot may be treated using walkers, custom orthotic insoles, or non-weight-bearing or rigid weight-bearing casts or braces.  In more serious cases, surgery may be considered to treat more developed deformities.  Ulcers can be further cared for with the help of proper diet, medication to control glucose, intensive wound care, and infection treatment.

Tuesday, 04 September 2018 00:00

Extracorporeal Shockwave Therapy (ESWT) is an alternative treatment method that is used for bone and soft tissue disorders in the foot and ankle. EWST is a noninvasive option for pain relief and it was originally created to help dissolve kidney stones. This therapy works by focusing impulses to target the area in pain. This method has been proven to show a reduction in the amount of nerve fibers that transmit painful impulses, which leads to a reduction in pain. Shockwave therapy can also expedite the tissue which would, in turn, increase the amount of new blood vessels that are formed.

Conditions that can be treated with shockwave therapy include Achilles pain and heel pain. People with plantar fasciitis may opt for this therapy and the results are usually great after 18 months. Additionally, this method can also be used to treat fractures that have failed to heal correctly. Anesthesia is not required to perform this treatment. It usually is not painful, but it can be uncomfortable.

The duration of treatment sessions usually lasts 5-15 minutes each. This procedure is safe since there is no risk of infection from wound complications, if you are looking to try shockwave therapy to heal plantar fasciitis, it may take 3-4 sessions to start working. After treatment, patients typically notice a dull pain in the area which was treated. However, this pain rarely lasts more than 24 hours.

Nevertheless, there are pros and cons that come along with Shockwave Therapy. The most obvious pro is that this treatment is noninvasive, meaning surgery will not be required. Another upside is that there have been very little complications that have been found with this procedure. On the other hand, those who opt for surgery are at risk for continued pain, wound problems, and infections. The biggest con for ESWT is that it is very expensive; it typically costs around $1,000 before insurance. Another con is that the effectiveness of the treatment is questionable. Usually, if this treatment is helpful, the difference is small.

If you are curious about Shockwave Therapy, you should talk to your podiatrist to see if this treatment method is right for you. At times, patients will find that there are other treatment options that are more efficient for their individual cases.

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