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April Articles 2015

All About Hallux Limitus

Hallux limitus is a medical condition which means “stiff toe”. It is actually an arthritic condition that limits movement of the big toe. The pain is usually located at the area where your large toe and foot meet. The condition is not serious, but should be treated since it can lead to hallux rigidus, in which motion of the big toe is extremely limited.

The symptoms of hallux limitus are easy to overlook. Anyone can feel a toe pain and believe that it is nothing serious. However, some of the things you will feel and see are sharp pain, development of bone growths, feelings of tightness around the joint, difficulties wearing shoes, inflammation of the joint, and even the change in the way you walk. If you experience these symptoms, you should see a podiatrist while the condition is still in the early stages.

This condition may be a result of genetics, or of simply wearing out your feet. In the first case, people can inherit hallux limitus from their parents, or even be born with a predisposition to arthritis. Injury or overuse can cause trauma to the joint which can lead to extra bone growth and the wearing a way of cartilage. These situations will lead to arthritis and thus pain and limited motion in the toe. In some cases, certain systemic diseases such as lupus or gout can cause hallux limitus.

There are different methods for diagnosis, but an x-ray is generally performed along with a test to determine the big toe's range of motion.

A limited number of treatments are available; in mild cases lifestyle and physical therapy are recommended, along with oral anti-inflammatory medications. The R.I.C.E. method stands for rest, ice, compression and elevation, and it is immensely helpful in this case. With hallux limitus it is crucial not to overuse the toe, and to be careful when it comes to exercise and other physical activities. Too much activity can destroy the cartilage that remains in the toe joint, making the toe even stiffer.

However, if the patient does not show any improvement, surgery is the only answer. The most common surgeries are arthrodesis, to fuse the joint, and cheilectomy, in which the joint is cleaned of scar tissue so the toe can move more easily. Many patients who receive surgery are able to go back to the activities they enjoy a couple of months after the operation.

How to Prevent Running Injuries

Overtraining and overusing the feet are the main causes of common running injuries. A number of these common injuries are caused by overrunning. Runner’s knee is a condition that is characterized by the back of the kneecap beginning to wear away and cause pain in the knee, frequently occurring due to either a decrease in strength in the quadriceps muscles or ill-fitting shoes that are lacking in proper support to the inside of the forefoot. Strengthening exercises focusing on the quad muscle and on sports orthotics are the usual treatments for those suffering from runner’s knee; prevention of the condition lies in a focus on hip strengthening and quad-strengthening to keep the kneecap aligned. To help learn the best exercise to heal runner’s knee, one can also undergo physical therapy.

One common injury, called iliotibial band syndrome, is often caused by overtraining. This condition occurs when the iliotibial band gets irritated, creating pain and discomfort in the outside knee area. Plantar fasciitis, another common running injury, also occurs as a result of inflammation and irritation; in this case, an inflammation and irritation of the bone in the foot. A large amount of pain is often experienced due to plantar fasciitis. The condition can be caused by a high arch, improper footwear, tight muscles, or flat feet. It can best be avoided by stretching and wearing appropriate footwear that supports the foot.

Another common injury for runners are stress fractures. These injuries occur due to running style, overtraining, or a lack of calcium. Stress fractures most often occur in several locations in runners, including the inner bone of the leg, the thighbone, the bone at the base of the spine and the bones of the toes. Stress fractures are best prevented by maintaining the wearing of proper footwear and by running on surfaces that provide enough “give”; this will absorb some of the shock created during running.

Aside from overtraining, other causes of common running injuries include ill-fitting footwear, a lack of flexibility and strength, and irregular biomechanics. The best way to avoid running injuries is to prevent them from even occurring. Fortunately, both iliotibial band syndrome and stress fractures are preventable.

The first step that should be taken to prevent running injuries is to only wear footwear that fits properly and that is appropriate for whatever activity you are undertaking. Running shoes are the only protective gear available to runners that can safeguard them from sustaining injuries; choosing the right pair of shoes is therefore extremely important. While running shoes are an important factor, it is also important to consider other facets of your running routine such as training schedules, flexibility, and strengthening.

These elements should be considered and altered according to your running needs to best maximize your run and minimize the possibility of injury. Careful stretching before and after a run should also be considered to help prevent running injuries. Stretching muscles enables greater flexibility and a lesser chance of sustaining injury.

Proper Shoe Fitting

When it comes to maintaining foot health, wearing properly-fitting shoes is important. While wearing the appropriate pair of shoes may seem like a trivial concern, the reality is that improperly fitted shoes cause an astounding amount of injuries to the feet. The overall structure and the biomechanics of our bodies are directly affected by our posture, gait, and feet; because of this, pain and discomfort felt throughout the body are often related to a problem in the feet—and most foot problems usually stem from improper footwear.

Shoes should not be purchased with the expectation that they will easily stretch and contort to the size and shape of your feet. When shopping for footwear, look for shoes that fit correctly and comfortably as soon as you put them on. Do not purchase shoes that are too large or that slip in the heel area when you walk, and do not choose shoes that slip or that are loose with the intention of wearing thicker socks to compensate for the space. The widest portion of the shoe, the ball of the foot, must be made sure to fit comfortably in the shoe. 

Keeping all of these suggestions in mind may be difficult when shopping and when trying to select from a wide array of different shoes. Nonetheless, your time and money will be wasted if you purchase a pair of shoes that are too uncomfortable for you to actually wear them. After finally selecting and purchasing a pair of shoes, try them on at home. To truly ensure whether or not your shoes fit comfortably with normal activity, walk around on a carpeted surface to determine how they feel on your feet.

The possibility of damaging your feet’s 33 joints, 26 bones, and 100+ ligaments is much higher than many people suspect. Finding an appropriate and properly-fitted pair of shoes is perhaps the single most important action you can take to maintain excellent foot health and help prevent injury. The fact that our feet continue to change with age is one that many people often forget. Even if our feet no longer change in size with greater maturity, our feet will still change in shape.

If you already have pre-existing foot problems, there is a great possibility that wearing improperly-fitted shoes will worsen those problems. The good news, however, is that appropriate footwear is not difficult to find. While shopping for shoes, remember that improper footwear can not only detrimentally affect the feet, but the entire body and its biomechanical structure as well. The shoes you wear can greatly impact your legs, back, and entire body, as your posture and gait are related to your feet. Finding and selecting the best properly-fitted shoes is necessary in achieving optimal health.

Hyperhidrosis of the Feet

Hyperhidrosis of the feet, also termed plantar hyperhidrosis, is characterized by excessive sweating of the feet that is not onset by any cause, such as exercise, fever, or anxiety. Most people suffering from hyperhidrosis of the feet also experience hyperhidrosis of the hands, or palmar hyperhidrosis. Approximately 1-2% of Americans suffer from this disorder.

Sweating is a healthy process utilized by the body in order to cool itself and maintain a proper internal temperature, which is controlled by the sympathetic nervous system. In individuals with hyperhidrosis, the sympathetic nervous system works in "overdrive", producing far more sweat than is actually needed.

Plantar hyperhidrosis is considered primary hyperhidrosis. Secondary hyperhidrosis refers to excessive sweating that occurs in an area other than the feet, hands, or armpits, and this indicates that is related to another medical condition, such as menopause, hyperthyroidism, or Parkinson's disease.

The symptoms of hyperhidrosis of the feet can include foot odor, athlete's foot, infections, and blisters. Because of the continual moisture, shoes and socks can rot which creates an additional foul odor and can ruin the materials, requiring shoes and socks to be replaced frequently. In addition to the physical symptoms, emotional health is often affected as this disorder can be very embarrassing.

If left untreated, hyperhidrosis will usually persist throughout an individual's life. However, there are several treatment options available. A common first approach to treating hyperhidrosis of the feet is a topical ointment. Aluminum chloride, an ingredient found in antiperspirants, can be effective at treating hyperhidrosis if used in high concentration and applied to the foot daily. Some individuals can experience relief this way, while others encounter extreme irritation and are unable to use the product. Another procedure is the use of Botulinum Toxin A, commonly referred to as Botox. This is injected directly into the foot, and is effective at minimizing the sweat glands in the injected area. These injections must be repeated every 4 to 9 months.

If these treatments are ineffective, oral prescription medications may be taken in an effort to alleviate the symptoms. Again, some will experience relief while others do not. Going barefoot reportedly provides relief for most sufferers.

A final approach to combating hyperhidrosis of the feet is through surgery. Surgery has been less successful on patients with plantar hyperhidrosis than on those with palmar hyperhidrosis. It is only recommended when sweating is severe and other treatments have failed to work. This kind of surgery usually involves going into the central nervous system, and cutting nerves to stop the transmission of signals telling the foot to sweat.