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Monday, 24 September 2018 00:00

Rheumatoid Arthritis is a chronic progressive disease that attacks several joints throughout the body. It is an autoimmune disease in which the body’s immune system mistakenly attacks the joints. As a result, the tissue inside the joints, called synovium, starts to thicken and causes pain around the joints. The synovium is responsible for creating a fluid that lubricates the joints to help them move. Approximately 1.5 million people in the United States have Rheumatoid Arthritis. Women are almost three times as likely to have RA compared to men, and it’s disease usually begins between the ages of 30 and 60. People who have a genetic history of RA are more likely to develop the disease.

Symptoms of RA may include the following sensations in the joints: pain, tenderness, swelling, redness, warmth, stiffness, and loss of range. Swollen joints are a very common symptom for those with the disease. At times, it may be minimal, but it may also be very apparent. Another typical symptom is joint stiffness. Doctors will often use the direction of morning stiffness to measure the severity of a patient’s joint inflammation. Other RA symptoms include limping, anemia, fever, and fatigue.

To diagnose RA, your podiatrist will typically request x-rays to see how much damage there is in the joints. Blood tests may also be performed to show if there are any signs of anemia, or antibodies such as the rheumatoid factor. If you have previously been diagnosed with RA, you should know the disease may spread to your feet and ankles.

There are many non-surgical options that can be used to treat this ailment. Some of these options include physical therapy, foot massages, orthotics, bracing, supportive shoes, and steroid injections. Physical therapy is useful because it will help stretch and strengthen the joints in both the foot and ankle to improve joint function. Massages can help improve blood circulation which will be good for the feet. Choosing proper footwear will allow you to walk with comfortability if you are a sufferer from RA. Lastly, bracing will help stabilize the foot joints, limit deformities and decrease pain.

In severe cases, surgery may be a treatment option that should be considered. For those who cannot walk without experiencing pain and those whose deformities can not be managed with braces, surgery should be considered. Your podiatrist will recommend surgery if he or she believes it will improve your foot biomechanics.

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

Shockwave therapy is one treatment option for plantar fasciitis, a condition that causes heel and foot inflammation and pain. This type of injury is often caused by overworking the feet. Heel pain is most common in people that exercise often, individuals who are overweight, and people whose profession require them to stand for long periods of time.

Heel pain can be caused by a number of problems including ill-fitting shoes, strenuous exercise routines or work hazards. Simple treatment options involve buying new shoes, taking ibuprofen, doing heel and foot exercises, and resting your feet. For severe cases, shockwave therapy can be considered a more viable form of treatment.

Shockwave therapy should be considered for patients that have had unsuccessful treatment or whose heel pain has lasted for more than six months. In shockwave therapy, a device delivers shockwaves to the patient’s body, which jumpstart the body’s repair mechanisms. These mechanisms then begin working more effectively to repair damage done to the heel area.

Shockwave therapy also helps eliminate pain in the heel area. When the body’s natural repair mechanisms are triggered, tissue healing in the body is sped up. This leads to pain reduction after pain transmission nerves are stimulated.

Shockwave therapy eliminates the risk factors associated with surgery, such as the use of anesthetics, and is less invasive. Since this technique also helps improve the body’s natural healing techniques, recovery time should be shorter than surgical procedures.

Discomfort issues can also be a side effect of treatment. Short-term issues normally include skin bruising, minor pain during and after treatment, swelling of the heel, and discolored tissue. However, these side effects of shockwave therapy usually disappear after a few days. The fast recovery time of shockwave therapy makes it easy for patients to return to their daily routines.

Like most types of treatments, surgeries, and medications, shockwave therapy is not for everyone. 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 be ineligible for shockwave therapy. Children and pregnant women should avoid this treatment option as well.

Overall, shockwave therapy could be a great option for heel pain. It is less invasive than surgery, helps trigger natural healing mechanisms, and should be considered by people who have had long bouts of heel pain or tried conventional treatment options that were unsuccessful.

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