Friday, March 30, 2012

Zap That Toenail Fungus!

Do you have thick, yellowish, brittle, and easily cracked or broken toenails without having injured them? They are likely discolored due to a fungal infection called onychomycosis, which is the most common disease of the nails.
The nail weakens as fungi continue to grow through the nail tissue. Since fungus grows faster than the nail, damage increases and the nail becomes more and more unsightly, with the infection spreading to the root or base of the nail.
Yeast and mold are also suspected to cause toenail fungus. These types of fungi exist in warm and moist environments, like shower areas, locker rooms, and swimming pools, and even your shoes (as toes are usually encased in shoes). People with circulatory problems, weak immune systems, or diabetes are at greater risk of developing fungal infections as well.
Nail fungus fungus has been difficult to treat with success. The only options in the past have been topical or oral medications, which with the exception of Formula 3, provide limited benefits. In addition, oral medication may cause liver damage. Now there is a safe, effective laser treatment for nail fungus offered in our office. The laser destroys the fungus that causes onychomycosis with very little effect on the surrounding tissues. Treatment normally takes fewer than 20 minutes and there is no pain, although sometimes you may experience a warm or tingling sensation. There are no age or health restrictions for laser treatments.
Laser toenail treatment is considered aesthetic (cosmetic). Therefore most health insurance plans do not cover treatment and it can be costly. Consult with your podiatric physician to determine if this course of treatment is right for you.
Connecticut Foot Care Centers
Podiatrists in CT
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Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Ingrown Toenails In Children

Parents can help prevent a common and painful foot problem in children by following a few simple tips. Foot and ankle surgeons say ingrown toenails are a common condition they treat in children. The doctors blame tight shoes, tight socks, and incorrect nail trimming for most cases. In other cases, children may inherit the tendency for nails to curve. Surgeons say that kids hide their ingrown toenails from their parents, even though the condition can cause significant pain. Over time, the nail may break the skin and lead to dangerous infections. The doctors at CFCC give these recommendations to help parents prevent ingrown toenails in their children.
Tip #1: Teach children how to trim their nails properly. Trim toenails in a fairly straight line, and don't cut them too short.
Tip #2: Make sure children's shoes fit. Shoe width is more important than length. Make sure that the widest part of the shoe matches the widest part of your child's foot.
Tip #3: If a child develops a painful ingrown toenail, parents can reduce the inflammation by soaking the child's foot in room-temperature water and gently massaging the side of the nail fold.
Tip #4: The only proper way to treat a child's ingrown toenail is with a minor surgical procedure at a podiatrist's office. Parents should never try to dig the nail out or cut it off. These dangerous "bathroom surgeries" carry a high risk for infection. Doctors may prescribe antibiotics to children with infected ingrown toenails.
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Saturday, March 24, 2012

Foot Pain Affecting your Golf Swing?

As you head to your favorite golf course this spring, make sure your feet are in shape before approaching the tee box. Your big toe, heel, and ball of your foot are the spots most likely to cause pain that can ruin your golf swing.
Behind these pain-prone spots can lie stiff joints, stretched out tissues, and even nerve damage. But pain relief is possible and frequently does not require surgery.
Three Conditions
The three most common foot conditions that can be the barrier to a perfect golf swing are neuromas, arthritis, and heel pain.
*Neuromas are nerves that become thickened, enlarged, and painful because they've been compressed or irritated. A neuroma in the ball of your foot can cause significant pain as your body transfers its weight from one foot to the other while swinging the club.
*Arthritis can cause pain in the joint of your big toe that makes it difficult to follow through.
*Heel pain typically results from an inflammation of the band of tissue that extends from your heel to the ball of your foot. People with this condition compare the pain to someone jabbing a knife in their heel. Heel pain can make it uncomfortable for golfers to maintain a solid stance during crucial portions of the swing.
Other Pain Conditions
Several other painful conditions can also make the perfect swing difficult. Ankle arthritis or ankle instability can affect the proper weight shift during the golf swing. Some athletes and former athletes develop chronic ankle instability from previous ankle sprains that failed to heal properly. Achilles tendonitis can also contribute to balance threatening instability during your golf swing. Ill-fitting golf shoes may cause corns and calluses that make standing uncomfortable.
Foot pain is not normal. With the treatment options available to your foot and ankle surgeon, a pain-free golf swing is clearly in view. When your feet aren't in top condition, your golf swing won't be either.
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Thursday, March 22, 2012

Goodbye Winter Feet!

Spring is right around the corner! It's that time of year when boots and closed-toed shoes go into hibernation and the feet get their first peek at the new season. To some, unveiling the feet after a long cold winter stuck inside of heavy socks and shoes, is a little daunting. Whether it's dry, flaky skin from lack of moisture, discolored toenails, or pesky corns and calluses, the feet can suffer from being cooped up during the winter months. Luckily, a little predebut pampering can go a long way and may be just what the doctor ordered. "Pampering the feet promotes good hygiene and will alert you to any problem areas that may need treatment from a podiatrist before slipping into sandals this spring," says Dr. Craig Kaufman, DPM.
To get the season started off on the right foot, the American Podiatric Medical Association recommends the following ten do-it-yourself tips that will help you confidently slip your feet into the hottest sandal styles of the season. 
1. Soak the feet with warm water for at least 10 minutes. Add Epson salts, herbal soaks, or oils for additional relaxation. 
2. Remove thickened, dead skin build-up (also known as calluses) around the presoaked heels, balls, and sides of the feet with a pumice stone or foot file. Do not use a razor because it removes too much skin and can easily cause infection or permanent damage to the skin if used incorrectly. 
3. Use an exfoliating scrub on the soles, sides, and tops of the feet to eliminate dry, flaky, winter skin. 
4.  Apply and massage a healthy amount of emollient-enriched skin lotion all over your feet to hydrate the skin and increase circulation. Remove any excess moisturizer from the toenails and in between toes as this can be a bastion for bacteria.
5. Clip toenails with a straight edge toenail clipper to just above the top of each toe to ensure nails do not become curved or rounded in the corners. 
6. Before bed, very lightly wrap cellophane around your entire foot. The cellophane will act as a makeshift sauna by locking in moisture. 
7. Apply nail polish to the toenails only if the nail is healthy. Remove polish regularly to let the nail bed breathe.
8. Practice good foot hygiene, including daily washing of the feet with soap and water, drying feet carefully, particularly between the toes. 
9. If any skin or nail conditions exist, see a podiatrist for a medical diagnosis.
10. Inspect your sandals or flip-flops from the previous year. Discard any that appear too worn. 
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Monday, March 19, 2012

Foot Myths: Don't Believe What You Hear!

The myths that we perpetuate about health care are often quite humorous, like jumping up and down on one foot to cure hiccups. But many foot treatment myths can be harmful and dangerous. There are a few that we want to dispel:

  • Cutting a small "V" in your nail will cure ingrown toenails. Toenails grow from the nail matrix that is located just beneath the skin at the base of the toenail. The idea that putting a small center "V" notch at the end of the nail will cause the nail edges to come away from the skin as the nail "grows together" at the "V" is just not medically possible. Ingrown nails can be prevented permanently with a minor surgical procedure in which the nail matrix (growth plate) on the affected side(s) of the nail is destroyed (typically by a chemical agent, but other methods may be utilized).
  • Warts can be "suffocated" with duct tape or salve. While warts may be living viruses, they cannot be suffocated. Warts can appear anywhere on the skin, but technically only those on the sole of the foot are properly called plantar warts. Your podiatric physician can prescribe and supervise your use of a safe and appropriate wart-removal preparation. More likely, however, removal of warts by a simple surgical procedure, performed under local anesthesia, may be indicated. People with diabetes or circulatory, immunological, or neurological problems should be especially careful with the treatment of their warts and seek professional care at all times.
  • Heel spurs are "calcium deposits". A heel spur or heel spur syndrome is most often the result of stress on the muscles and fascia of the foot. This stress may form a spur on the bottom of the heel. While many spur are painless, others may produce chronic pain. Based on the condition and the chronic nature of the disease, heel surgery can provide relief of pain and restore mobility in many cases. The type of procedure is based on examination and usually consists of plantar fascia release, with or without heel spur excision. There have been various modification and surgical enhancements regarding surgery of the heel. Your podiatric physician will determine which method is best suited for you. 
  • Fungal toenails are contagious.  Fungal infection of the nail, or onychomycosis, is often ignored because the infection can be present for years without causing pain. Unlike the common cold or flu, being around someone afflicted with this condition generally does not pose a risk of acquiring the infection. The disease is characterized by a progressive change in a toenail's quality and color, which is often ugly and embarrassing, however, not usually contagious from casual contact. In reality, the condition is an infection underneath the surface of the nail caused by fungi. If ignored, the infection can spread and possibly impair one's ability to work or even walk. Treatments can vary, depending on the nature and severity of the infection. A podiatric physician can detect a fungal infection early, culture the nail, determine the cause, and form a suitable treatment plan, which may include prescribing topical or oral medication, and debridement (removal of diseased nail matter and debris) of infected nail. Laser nail treatment for fungal toenails may also be a viable option. 
  • "It doesn't hurt so that ulcer can't be that bad."  In patients with diabetes an ulcer or open sore on the bottom of the foot can be a sign that should not be ignored, regardless of whether it hurts or not. Diabetes can cause nerve damage in the legs and feet, which can lead to the inability to feel pain. Due to poor blood flow, small sores and cuts that go unnoticed on the feet can lead to hard-to-heal wounds called diabetic ulcers. It is extremely important for patients with diabetes to schedule regular appointments with a podiatrist. Don't let pain be the guide; make foot care a part of your routine of overall care. 
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Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Avoid Spring Ankle Sprains

As the weather warms across the country, we tend to head outside and get active with our favorite activity. But don't let the arrival of springtime sports be the arrival of an ankle sprain.
An ankle sprain is an injury to one or more ligaments, usually on the outside of the ankle. Ligaments are bands of tissue- like rubber bands- that connect one bone to another and bind the joints together. The severity of an ankle sprain depends on whether the ligament is stretched, partially torn, or completely torn.
Ankle sprains are one of the most common injuries in athletes. Sports that involve quick, sudden movements, such as basketball, tennis, and soccer can trigger these injuries.
If you injure your ankle, don't think it's "just an ankle sprain" and hope it will heal on its own. Any ankle sprain requires prompt medical attention and diagnosis. Left untreated, an ankle sprain can lead to chronic ankle instability. In some cases, an injury may appear to be an ankle sprain when in actuality it is a more severe injury, such as a fracture. A general rule of thumb is to use "R.I.C.E" therapy for an ankle sprain- rest, ice, compression, and elevation- to help reduce swelling, pain, and further injury. It's also important to follow up with our office to assure there hasn't been a more serious injury that could lead to greater problems down the road if left untreated.
Help prevent ankle sprains this spring with these tips:
*Perform exercises that help improve balance, lower leg strength, and flexibility.
*Use warm-up stretches and exercises before playing sports.
*Use an ankle brace if you're recovering from an injury or have repeatedly sprained your ankle.
*Wear the right shoes for the sport. For example, support your ankle by wearing court shoes, not running shoes, when playing sports that involve side-by-side movement, such as tennis and basketball.
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Sunday, March 11, 2012

How To Prepare For Foot Surgery

If you are facing the possibility of foot or ankle surgery anytime soon, or even if you are considering a procedure in your podiatrist's office, there are some helpful tips that you should heed before and after.
When you are considering any surgical procedure, including foot and ankle surgery, you will need specific tests or examinations before surgery to encourage a successful surgical outcome. Prior to surgery, the podiatric surgeon will review your medical history and medical conditions. Specific diseases, illnesses, allergies, and current medications need to be evaluated. Other tests that help evaluate your health status may be ordered including blood studies, urinalysis, EKG, X-rays, a blood flow study (to better evaluate the circulatory status of the foot/legs), and a biomechanical examination.
A consultation with another medical specialist may be advised or required by your insurance or surgical facility, depending on your test results or a specific medical condition.
The type of foot surgery performed will determined the length and kind of aftercare required to assure that your recovery from surgery is rapid and uneventful. The basics of all postoperative care involve to some degree each of the following: rest, ice, compression, and elevation. Bandages, splints, surgical shoes, casts, crutches, or canes may be necessary to ensure a safe recovery after foot surgery. A satisfactory recovery can be hastened by carefully following your post-operative instructions.
Surgery of the foot and/or ankle requires specific post-operative care.
To assure a rapid and easy recovery, it is important to follow your podiatric surgeon's advice and post-operative instructions carefully. All of the same procedures apply for rearfoot surgery, but you may have issues that are more complicated. For example, your podiatric surgeon will determine if and when you can bear weight on the foot that had surgery.
By following the advice of your podiatric surgeon, you can ensure that your recovery after foot surgery, regardless of the type, will be uneventful. Take the time you've been given to recover appropriately and remember that a good book can help you through recovery.
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Friday, March 9, 2012

March Shoe of the Month: Sling Backs

Dynamic and sexy, sling backs exude the confident energy of those who wear them. Find a sling back with a lower heel so they can be worn from day to night. Make sure straps aren't too tight, as that could lead to chafing on the back of the heel, and conversely, make sure they aren't too loose, so that straps are not constantly being pulled up.

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Thursday, March 8, 2012

Men's Foot Problems

Men and women have some similarities in their foot problems, but they also have a number of differences. Since we all have less time to think about our feet these days, we thought we'd get the men out there thinking about what some of the differences might be. Let's admit it guys, we usually tend to wait too long to seek medical care. We avoid our medical problems until  they become too serious to ignore. The term "weekend warriors" often applies to us, especially when we start on a new exercise routine. We also tend to binge on exercise during the weekend. And while we're making a list, we are less likely to use the proper type of shoes for activities, and we tend not to prepare for those same activities with stretching before and after exercise.
When you experience an athletic injury, it's important to do the right thing fast. Call your podiatrist to discuss any and all foot and ankle injuries. The doctor may recommend that you treat your injury at home or may recommend that you meet him or her at the office or the ER. While you're waiting, remember "RICE"- rest, ice, compression, and elevation.
Another problem that men may be more prone to is "athlete's foot", which has a great title for a crummy infection. While most men over fifty would love to have "athlete" associated with them in any way, this condition is probably not what you had in mind. Athlete's foot is a skin disease caused by a fungus, usually occurring between the toes. The signs of athlete's foot are dry skin, itching, scaling, inflammation, and blisters.
Men can do a lot to prevent infection by practicing good foot hygiene. Daily washing of the feet with soap and water, drying carefully, especially between the toes; and changing shoes regularly to decrease moisture, help to prevent the fungus from infecting the feet. Men should also avoid walking barefoot, wear socks that keep feet dry, and change them frequently, and reduce perspiration by using a powder recommended by the podiatrist.
If an apparent fungus condition does not respond to proper foot hygiene and self care, and there is no improvement within two weeks, consult your podiatrist. The doctor will determine if a fungus is the cause of the problem. If it is, a specific treatment plan, including the prescription of antifungal medication, applied topically or taken by mouth, will usually be suggested.
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Monday, March 5, 2012

Blisters: Painful and Annoying

Very few athletes are unfamiliar with this term. For that matter, most of us at some time in our lives have formed that wondrous, yet ill-appreciated lesion which forms in response to excessive heat and friction. In the earlier stage of formation, blisters will be reddened areas of irritation or hot spots. They will have definite burning sensations and will actually be warm to touch. In  cases of continued activity, a clear watery fluid will seep into the area and the outer covering of skin will separate leaving a true problem. New shoes, ill-fitting shoes, and just  excessive walking can produce blisters in just about anyone.
Although blisters may seem simple enough, they can spell trouble. First of all, they can cause disability to such a point that a person cannot walk without pain. Secondly, blisters have somehow notoriously invited improper treatment often resulting in infection and further problems. Bathroom surgery without a license and with non-sterile instruments is indeed an open invitation to complications.
The outer layer of the blister should be left intact. It is a natural body defense shield against infection and greatly reduces the discomfort of the underlying raw tissue. In an office setting and with sterile instruments, the fluid is painlessly drained and an adequate lubricating type of medication applied to protect the blister. In about 24-48 hours the blister pain is gone and a layer of revitalized skins begins to form. It should be emphasized that blisters should not be ignored or treated carelessly.
Blisters on the feet can be prevented by wearing comfortable, well-fitting shoes and clean socks. Blisters are more likely to develop on skin that is moist, so moisture-absorbing socks or frequent sock changes will aid those with particularly sweaty feet. While exercising or playing sport, special sports socks can help keep feet drier and reduce the chance of blister.
Before going on a long walk, it is important to ensure that shoes have been broken in. If a hot area on the foot is felt, applying a protective non medicated  pad over the area can prevent the formation of a blister.
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Friday, March 2, 2012

Pregnancy Without Foot Pain

"Oh my aching feet" is a phrase you hear often from pregnant women. But, are sore feet a symptom they just deal with during pregnancy? According to the doctors at Connecticut Foot Care Centers, the answer is "no". There are many remedies available to help alleviate foot pain.
According to Dr. Craig M. Kaufman, DPM, women often experience foot pain during pregnancy because of increased weight, foot instability and swelling. "In the last five years, I've seen an increase in pregnant women with foot pain because more women than ever before are active, even running marathons, during their pregnancies," Dr. Kaufman says. The doctors at Connecticut Foot Care Centers recommend the following guidelines to help reduce foot pain during pregnancy.
Painful, Swollen Feet-  Pregnant women often experience throbbing, swollen feet due to excess fluid build up (edema) in the feet from the weight and position of the baby. To reduce swelling, put feet up whenever possible, stretch legs frequently, wear wide comfortable shoes, and don't cross legs when sitting.
Arch Pain- Pain in the arch can be due to both arch fatigue or over pronation (or the flattening of the arch). Over pronation occurs due to extreme stress to the ligament (the plantar fascia) that holds up the arch of the foot. The best way to prevent arch pain is to stretch daily in the morning and before and after any exercise.  Don't go barefoot, and wear supportive low-heeled shoes.
Foot Cramps- These painful cramps are caused by increased blood volume and high progesterone levels brought on by pregnancy. To prevent cramps, increase circulation by rotating ankles and elevating feet while sitting. If cramps persist, try a walk around the block and include daily stretching of the calf muscles.
Ingrown Toenails- Excessive stress from tightly-fitting shoes causes painful ingrown toenails. Give your feet a break: wear wider shoes during the last trimester of pregnancy to avoid ingrown toenails. If you do experience an ingrown toenail, avoid attempting "bathroom surgery". Repeated cutting of the nail can cause the condition to worsen over time. It is best to seek treatment with a foot and ankle surgeon.
It is also not uncommon for women to experience a change in their foot size during pregnancy. "A permanent growth in a women's foot, up to half a size, can occur from the release of the same hormone, relaxin, that allows the pelvis to open to deliver the baby. It makes the ligaments in your feet more flexible, causing feet to spread wider and longer," Dr. Kaufman adds.
Pregnancy and pending motherhood should be a joy. If foot pain persists, a visit to a foot and ankle specialist can provide relief with conservative treatments such as physical therapy, foot orthotics, supportive shoes and minor toenail procedures.
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Podiatrists in CT
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