We have all made the painful mistake of trimming our nails too short at some point in our lives. Sometimes, this can really affect our foot health by causing ingrown toenails.
This happens when the nail grows downward into the skin instead of straight out, usually causing an infection. Ingrown toenails are most common on the sides of the big toe. It can also be caused by shoe pressure, injury, fungal infections, poor foot structure, etc.
Warm water soaks several times a day, properly fitted shoes and socks, and trimming nails in a straight line (rather than rounded) are ways to treat and prevent painful ingrown toenails. If there is an infection, antibiotics may be prescribed.
A bunion is a bony bump that forms on the joint at the base of your big toe. They can develop from an inherited structural defect, excess stress on your foot, or can result from an existing medical condition.
For the most part, bunions require no medical treatment. However, if you are experiencing one or more of the following, a podiatrist can help alleviate your symptoms.
Corns tend to be smaller than calluses and are the hard center is surrounded by irritated skin. While corns can be found on the bottom of the foot where pressure is usually applied, it is more common that you find corns on the tops and sides of your toes and even between your toes. When pressure is applied, corns can cause significant pain and discomfort.
Hammertoe is a deformity where one or both joints of the second, third, fourth or fifth toes begin to bend outside of their normal alignment. Pressure can begin to weigh heavy on the toes as you wear shoes which is where pain and other symptoms develop.
Hammertoes typically begin with small symptoms and deformities and continue to worsen with time. In its beginning stages, hammertoes are often impressionable which means they can be controlled using minimal treatment. It is important to know the signs of hammertoes to get them evaluated early. If left untreated, hammertoes can become more firm and difficult to manipulate, requiring surgery.
Diabetic Foot Care
Daily preventative care can help you decrease your risk of developing these other serious conditions like ulcers and infections. Inspecting your feet at the end of the day to look for any abnormalities, maintaining proper hygiene, keeping your feet warm in cold weather, encouraging blood flow in the feet, and maintaining an overall healthy lifestyle can discourage other conditions from developing.
Plantar warts are caused by the HPV virus and cause tiny cuts and breaks on the bottom of your feet.
While most plantar warts are not a major health concern, it is advised you see a doctor to have the warts examined and removed. Some symptoms include small, rough lesions on the base of the foot, calluses in one spot, and tenderness when walking or standing for long periods of time.
Heel Spurs/Plantar Fasciitis
Heel spurs are hard, pointed calcium deposits on your heel which can poke into the soft tissue of your heel, often causing intense pain when you walk. The pain usually feels like a sharp jab and can be worse in the morning when you first stand up. Dr. Robert Kierstein in Kirkland, Washington wants you to know the facts about heel spurs and heel pain.
- Over 40 years old
- Wearing worn-out or poorly fitting shoes
- Standing for long periods
Heel spurs can also be caused by walking unevenly and putting too much pressure on part of your foot. Heel spurs are often seen in people suffering from plantar fasciitis which is inflammation of the plantar fascia, the thick band of tissue across your heel. Heel spurs will form because your body is attempting to support your weakened plantar fascia tissue.
There are non-invasive treatments you can try at home to get some relief, such as:
- Gently stretching your Achilles tendon and arches during the day
- Taking anti-inflammatory and pain medications like ibuprofen or Tylenol
- Putting ice on your heel for 15 minutes several times a day
- Wearing more supportive, comfortable shoes
- Using heel inserts and wedges
For a permanent solution to heel spurs, it’s best to visit your podiatrist Dr. Kierstein. He may recommend prescription-strength anti-inflammatory and pain medication, and custom-made orthotics or heel wedges. Physical therapy is also effective at relieving the symptoms associated with heel spurs.
One of the most effective treatments provided by Dr. Kierstein for heel spurs is Extracorporeal Shock Wave Treatment or ESWT. This form of therapy works to increase circulation and the formation of healthy tissue. In rare cases, surgery can be performed to remove the heel spur.
Flat foot is a condition where the arches on the inside of your feet are flattened which causes the sole of the foot to touch the floor when standing upright. It is likely for flat feet to be caused by the arches not fully developing during childhood and is considered a very common and painless condition. On the other hand, flat feet can occur after an injury or from the normal aging process.
While it is common not to experience any pain or symptoms of flat feet, some people do tend to sense pain in the heel or arch area. Physical activity can irritate the area and inflame the foot along the inside of the ankle. This can be caused by the tendon that is supporting the arch being stretched as it is depreciating.
Athlete’s foot (tinea pedis) is a specific type of fungal infection that typically begins between the toes. A common cause of athlete’s foot is sweaty feet that are confined to tight shoes for a long period of time. Signs and symptoms of athlete’s foot include a scaly rash that usually causes itching, stinging and burning. Athlete’s foot is contagious and should be carefully monitored and treated. Athlete’s foot can easily be treated with antifungal medications, but the infection is likely to recur. Prescription medications also are available.
A sprained ankle occurs when you twist your ankle in an abnormal way causing the ligaments holding your ankle bones together to stretch or tear. Most sprained ankles involve injuries to the ligaments on the outer side of the ankle. Treatment for a sprained ankle depends on the severity of the injury. Although you may just need proper rest and pain medications to heal, it is important to have the sprain looked at by a professional to determine the severity and proper treatment.
Fungal infections in the toe or fingernails can appear as thickened, discolored, or disfigured. While it may seem like the condition is just an aesthetic concern, fungal infections can lead to worsened symptoms and pain. Diabetes, a weakened immune system, and the normal aging process are all causes associated with fungal infections. It is more likely for senior citizens and adults to develop a fungal infection as opposed to children.
The foot and ankle are highly specialized structures that absorb the weight of the body and enable us to move. Experts estimate that the force and pressure on your feet when walking can be up to two times your body weight. This pressure can increase with more vigorous movements such as running and jumping. With so much pressure on your feet and ankles, they undergo a lot of wear and tear throughout your life and are highly susceptible to injury and trauma.
The foot and ankle are a complex system of bones, ligaments, muscles, and joints that provide the structure and stability we need to move freely. If any of these components become compromised or weakened due to injury, overuse, degenerative conditions, or sprains, it can significantly impact your foot’s ability to move and function properly.
A large part of our practice is dedicated to sports medicine. We treat and prevent injuries related to sports and exercise. Our goal is not only to address symptoms but to help improve overall athletic performance and prevent future injuries. We see all levels of athletes. From weekend warriors and beginning runners to professional dancers and triathletes, our doctors are ready to help. We work closely with physical therapists, dance companies, specialty shoe stores, high school coaches, and other medical specialists which allow us to tailor a comprehensive treatment plan specifically designed for you.
Our doctors will find the root of your problems. Abnormal structure and biomechanics can often be controlled with proper shoes, custom orthotics, gait analysis, and physical therapy. We pride ourselves in making truly custom orthotics for our patients. These are not the same as store-bought arch supports. A mold is taken off your feet and sent to a lab with a prescription. This allows us the ability to precisely re-align your feet, modify pressure points, and design a device-specific to your shoes and sport.
We also incorporate Regenerative Medicine to treat many chronic injuries. Professional athletes have had access to these stem cell-based options for years. And now so can you! We utilize PRP (platelet rich plasma), Shockwave Therapy (EPAT), and amniotic membrane to stimulate your bodies to own healing cascade. These safe, minimally invasive, and effective treatments have helped countless people recover quicker and often avoid surgery. Our doctors would be happy to discuss these options in more detail at any of our offices.