March Articles 2015

Corns: What Are They, and How Do You Get Rid of Them

Corns are thickened areas on the skin’s surface, to the point of being irritating and sometimes painful. Commonly found on the feet, corns are circular or cone-shaped and develop where there are areas of pressure or friction, such as on the little toe when it rubs up against shoes, or on the ball of your foot. The official medical term for corns is Helomas.

Corns are often confused with a callus, but there is a difference between them. Corns can be a raised bump that are painful to the touch. They consist of a rough, thick area of skin that may be dry or waxy. Corns tend to be surrounded by skin that is inflamed, and are usually much smaller than calluses.

Removing the dead skin that has built up is the key in treating corns. Salicylic acid medication is most common in accomplishing this. The acid works by dissolving keratin, which is the protein that makes up the majority of corns. You can purchase salicylic acid over-the-counter in products such as wart removers. It comes in a variety of forms such as medicated pads, drops, or creams. However, people who are diabetic should not use salicylic acid, but should consult their doctor immediately.

According to the product directions, applying the medication directly onto the corn will treat it. The top layer of the corn will begin to turn a white color after use. When that occurs, the layers of skin can then be peeled away, making the corn smaller. Shaving off corns with razors or other pedicure equipment is never a good idea. This can potentially lead to infection. If your corn gets infected, and you do not respond with medication, a visit to the doctor will be necessary.

Another way to treat corns and help prevent their return is by using orthotic inserts, fitted by a podiatrist. Inserts fit right into your shoes and adjusts the way your foot fits into your shoes, thus fixing the way you walk. This will lower your chances of getting corns, and eliminate current corns, by reducing the friction.

Surgery is rarely used to treat corns, but does occur on occasion. Surgery actually deals with the underlying issue that causes corns. During surgery, the bone is shaved and any abnormalities are corrected, thus reducing the amount of friction that occurs during walking.

To prevent corns, the first step is reducing friction. Always wear shoes that fit well and don’t rub your feet. Pads can be purchased if you notice rubbing developing. These pads can be purchased over-the-counter, and can be simply placed on the irritated area. Wearing cushioned insoles in your shoes can always reduce the friction, and making sure to wear well-fitting shoes. This will ensure that your foot is not being squeezed awkwardly, and prevent corns from forming in the first place.

All About Broken Ankles

Broken ankles are a very serious injury which, if not properly treated, can lead to continuous pain and an inability to walk. An ankle is made up of at least three major bones--the tibia, fibula, and talus. The tibia and fibula are the two bones that connect to your knees. They sit directly upon the talus bone, protected by a fibrous membrane that allows slight movement in our ankle joint. When the ankle is broken, it is because the foot rolled under or twisted too far, causing one or more of these three bones to break.

An ankle sprain occurs when ligaments are ripped or torn but no bones were broken. A sprain can be very severe, causing severe bruising of the foot and an inability to hold weight. In the case of broken ankles, the bones broken in this region could be numerous. If a person cannot stand their own weight on their ankle then it is most likely a broken ankle. The best thing to do if you suspect you have a broken ankle is to get an x-ray to determine the severity of the break immediately. The longer you wait to be diagnosed, the longer the healing process will take.

The most common cause of a broken ankle is when the foot has rolled over on itself, usually while engaged in exercise, physical activity, or sports. Another common cause is from a jump of great height. It is most important to seek medical treatment if one suspects they have broken ankles. A doctor can determine if surgery is needed in order to heal correctly. Without medical assistance after such an injury, a person may suffer severe arthritis and pain later in life. In some cases, an operation may be the only option to ensure the ability to walk properly again.

Broken ankles will cause severe pain. It will help to elevate the feet above your head to reduce blood flow to the injured area, as well as applying ice to the ankles to help decrease swelling. If surgery is required, it usually means an ankle cast for at least three months and then rehabilitation. Rehabilitation can be painful, using atrophied muscles and building tendon strength.

It is important to determine if surgery is needed as a broken ankle can become more severe than you realize. If not professionally treated, the broken ankle bones will inhibit your ability to walk properly.

How to Prevent Running Injuries

Many common running injuries are caused by overuse and overtraining. Several common injuries can occur due to running. When the back of the kneecap starts wearing away and starts causing pain in the knee, this is commonly referred to as runner’s knee. Runner’s knee can occur because of decreased strength in the quadricep muscles or shoes that do not offer proper support to the inside of the forefoot. Runner’s knee usually is treated with strengthening exercises focusing on the quad muscle and sports orthotic. To prevent runner’s knee, efforts should be focused on hip strengthening. Physical therapy is also beneficial in helping to learn the best exercises to heal runner’s knee. To prevent runner’s knee, strengthen the quad muscles to keep the kneecap aligned.

Overtraining is one cause of a common running injury called iliotibial band syndrome, which occurs when the iliotibial band gets irritated, causing pain and discomfort to the outside knee area. Another common running injury is known as plantar fasciitis, which occurs when the bone in the foot becomes inflamed and irritated. This injury primarily causes pain in the foot. Causes can include a high arch, incorrect footwear, tight muscles and flat feet. The best way to avoid plantar fasciitis is stretching and proper footwear.

Stress fractures are a common injury for runners. These fractures can occur because of overtraining, lack of calcium or running style. In runners, it is common for stress fractures to occur in several locations including the inner bone of the leg, the thighbone, the bone at the base of the spine and the toe bones in the foot. The best approach to preventing stress fractures are proper footwear maintenance and running on a surface with enough “give” to absorb some of the shock produced during running.

Besides overtraining, other causes of these common running injuries are poorly fitting footwear, irregular biomechanics, and lack of flexibility and strength. The best way to avoid running injuries is to prevent them. Fortunately, each of these common running injuries can be prevented. To avoid running injuries it is highly recommended to wear only footwear that fits properly and that suits your needs. Running shoes are the only protective gear that runners have to safeguard them from injury; therefore, choosing the correct footwear for running is important. It is important, too, to think about other aspects of your running routine like training schedules, flexibility and strengthening, and tailor them to your needs in order to minimize the possibility of injury. Regular stretching before and after running should be considered also when trying to avoid running injuries. Stretching keeps muscles limber resulting in greater flexibility.

New Treatment Helps Relieve Heel Pain Caused by Plantar Fasciitis

Recently, a groundbreaking study concluded that their treatment combining ultrasound with steroid injections was 95% effective in the treatment of plantar fasciitis.

Plantar fasciitis is a foot problem affecting the plantar fascia, a connective tissue in the heel. This condition is treatable, but in many cases can take up to a year to be effective.

Conventional treatments have included exercises, rest, arch supports, and night splints. If this proves to be ineffective, many patients undergo shockwave therapy. In shockwave therapy, sound waves are directed to the area where pain is experienced. This therapy can be affective, but is somewhat painful, and calls for several sessions. Even still, shockwave therapy does not always alleviate the pain caused by plantar fasciitis.

Luca M. Sconfienza, M.D., from the University of Genoa in Italy, conducted the study. The new treatment involves an ultrasound-guided technique with a steroid injection to the plantar fascia. It is a one-time outpatient procedure involving a small amount of anesthesia. This technique, known as dry-needling, causes small amounts of bleeding that aid in healing the fascia.

It was discovered that 42 of the 44 patients involved in the study had their symptoms disappear entirely within three weeks. “This therapy is quicker, easier, less painful, and less expensive than shockwave therapy” Dr. Sconfienza stated. “In cases of mild plantar fasciitis, patients should first try non-invasive solutions before any other treatments. But when pain becomes annoying and affects the activities of daily living, dry-needling with steroid injection is a viable option," she added.

Toenail Fungus

Toenail fungus is a frustrating and embarrassing problem for many people. It can be persistent and hard to get rid of. Thankfully, there are a number of options for treatment available.

The most effective treatment for toenail fungus is Lamisil. However, any anti-fungal treatment sold to get rid of athlete's foot can also be used. In the ingredients list on products sold to kill fungal growth on the body, look for the ingredient terbinafine. Terbinafine is a chemical product that kills fungal growths. Using a product with terbinafine in it will essentially damage the cell membrane of the fungus organism. However, don't expect immediate results. You will need to apply the medication regularly, and make sure to keep washing the affected area and drying it thoroughly. The fungus needs moisture, air and your skin to live.

Taking other precautions can also help with fungus. Use a powder such as talcum powder in the shoes to absorb sweat and moisture. It is also important to wear sandals or loose-fitting, open-toed shoes which will improve air-flow around the feet, keeping the feet dry. These kinds of shoes will also expose your feet to light, which is not favorable to fungus growth. Wearing socks that wick moisture and dry quickly will also help control fungus.

Although Lamisil and other medications containing terbinafine have been proven effective, they also cause a number of side effects which may be undesirable. If you decide that this kind of medication is not for you, there are a number of natural remedies to try. Applying alcohol, tea tree oil, hydrogen peroxide, or Vicks VapoRub to the nail regularly may solve the problem.

Your podiatrist might also recommend soaking your toenails in a gentle bleach solution. Anecdotal evidence suggests that vinegar and Listerine may also be effective when used as a soaking solution. These are simple treatments, but ones that require patience and consistency. There are also topical products available from your pharmacy which is manufactured especially for toenail fungus.

There are more immediate treatments for toenail fungus available using laser surgery. If you are looking for an immediate and quick removal of the toenail fungus, you will need to find a laser surgeon who can cut the growth out of your toenail. Don't try to cut the toenail fungus out using toenail scissors or other kinds of scissors. Once you get rid of your fungus infection, you will need to throw out your old shoes to avoid reinfection.