Raleigh | (919) 231-7969
Wilson | (252) 281-4442

Rocky Mount | (252) 451-4040
Ahoskie | (252) 862-4300

January Articles 2015

Flip-flops and Feet

Flip-flops are a popular, convenient type of shoe. Not only do they allow you open room for your feet to breathe, but you can freely move your toes and wear them with most clothing styles. Unfortunately, flip-flops also have a downside, as they can harm your feet in more ways than you think. 

Although they are very comfortable, wearing flip-flops frequently could lead to issues in the lower body in the long run. This is due to the fact that people walk differently in flip-flops as opposed to other shoes such as sneakers. The natural gait changes, causing stress to different parts of the body while throwing the body off entirely. Flip-flops could also cause problems in the arches and balls of your feet, as they provide little to no support to the body.

Flip-flops may also cause more apparent short-term symptoms as well, such as blisters and ankle sprains. Flip-flops are generally made with weak materials and bend easily, making it easier for its wearers to trip and injure their ankles. They may also cause blisters since the straps rub up against the foot. Due to the openness of flip-flops, its wearers could also risk infections, making it easier to scrape and cut the foot since there is little protection. If left uncovered (and untreated), these cuts could get dirtied and later infected.

To avoid this, purchase a pair of flip-flops that offer ample protection. Be sure the sole is firm and sturdy and not ‘floppy’, or that the sole doesn’t bend or wiggle a lot when lifted from the floor. If you select flip-flops made of high quality material, you will not have to be concerned about this. Although they may be more expensive, these shoes last longer and protect your feet better as opposed to a cheaper pair. Brand names also help, so be sure to buy from a reliable manufacturer.

You can still wear your favorite pair of flip-flops, just don’t wear them daily or for extended periods of time. Replace flip-flops every 3-4 months in order to ensure they provide the best protection for your feet.

 

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

Corns are areas of the skin where it has thickened to the point of being irritating and sometimes painful. Corns are circular or cone-shaped and are commonly found on the feet where there are areas of pressure or friction, such as on the little toe where it may rub against shoes or on the ball of the foot. The medical term for corns is helomas.

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

The key to treating a corn is to remove the dead skin that has built up. Salicylic acid is the most common medication used to accomplish this. Salicylic acid works by dissolving keratin, the protein that makes up the majority of corns. You can purchase salicylic acid over-the-counter in the form of wart removers. It comes in medicated pads, drops or creams. People with diabetes should not use salicylic acid, but should immediately consult their doctor.

To treat corns, apply the medication directly onto the corns according to the product directions. The top layer of the corn will turn a white color. When that happens, the layers of skin can then be peeled away, making the corn smaller. It is never a good idea to try and shave off corns with razors or other pedicure equipment. This can lead to infection. If your corns get infected or do not respond to over the counter treatment, a visit to the doctor is necessary.

Orthotic inserts fitted by a podiatrist also help to treat corns and help prevent their return. Inserts fit into shoes and help to adjust the way your foot fits in your shoe, thus fixing the way you walk. This will reduce friction, lowering your chances of getting a corn and eliminating the pain for current corns.

Surgery is seldom an option for corns, but does occur on rare occasions. Surgery for corns actually deals with the underlying issue causing the corns. During surgery, the bone is shaved and any abnormalities are corrected to reduce the amount of friction that occurs during walking.

The first step to preventing corns is to reduce any possible friction. Wear well fitting shoes that don’t rub on your feet. If you notice rubbing developing, pads can be purchased to help reduce the friction. These can be purchased over the counter and are simply placed on the area that is being irritated. Friction can also be reduced by using cushioned insoles in your shoes, and making sure to wear well-fitting shoes. This will make sure your foot is not being squeezed awkwardly, and stop corns from forming in the first place.

 

About Plantar Warts

The term plantar means relating to the foot, which is why plantar warts are only found on the feet. Plantar warts are caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV) getting into open wounds on the feet. These warts are recognizable by a hard bump on the foot. They are mostly found heels or on the balls of the feet. Plantar warts are basically harmless, and may be ignored unless they cause pain or embarrassment.

If you have a plantar wart you may notice some pain when standing, or just some tenderness on the sole of your foot. You will be able to see a fleshy wart, unless it has grown into the foot behind a callus. Since plantar warts are not cancerous and not dangerous, a podiatrist only needs to be seen if there is excess pain, the warts come back often or persist for some time, or if it affects walking. It is extremely important that people suffering from compromised immune systems or diabetes seek out a physician’s care immediately upon finding a plantar wart on their foot.

Doctors can usually easily diagnose plantar warts. The doctor will scrape off a tiny bit of the rough skin to make tiny blood clots visible that make up the inside of these warts. If the doctor is unsure of a diagnosis they may do a biopsy to be certain. Though plantar warts don't often call for treatment, there are many options for combating them if need be. They can be frozen using liquid nitrogen, removed using an electric tool or burned using laser treatment. For a less invasive treatment a topical cream can be used which is available only through a prescription. Over the counter wart medications may help, given enough time and patience.

If you prefer to use home remedies an apple cider vinegar soak is believed to help remove the wart. This treatment takes time. Soak your infected foot in the vinegar for 20 minutes before using a pumice stone to remove any loose skin from the wart. Keep the wart covered for protection in between daily treatments.

The best way to avoid contracting plantar warts is to avoid walking barefoot in public areas. This includes wearing shoes in public showers also. It is also important to avoid direct contact with warts, as they can be contagious. This means not touching your own warts, as well as those on others.

 

Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome

Tarsal tunnel syndrome, also called tibial nerve dysfunction, is an uncommon form of misfiring peripheral nerves in the foot. Peripheral nerves are the nerves that carry signals from the brain and spinal cord to the other parts of the body. The tibial nerve is the peripheral nerve in the leg responsible for sensation and movement of the foot and calf muscles. In tarsal tunnel syndrome, the tibial nerve is damaged, causing problems with movement and feeling in the foot of the affected leg.

Common causes of tarsal tunnel syndrome involve pressure or an injury. Direct pressure on the tibial nerve for an extended period of time, sometimes caused by other body structures close by or near the knee, or trauma to the tibial nerve can result in tarsal tunnel syndrome. Diseases that damage nerves, including diabetes, may cause tarsal tunnel syndrome. However, tarsal tunnel syndrome can appear without an obvious cause in some cases.

Feeling different sensations in the foot at different times is a common symptom of tarsal tunnel syndrome. An afflicted person may experience pain, tingling, burning or other unusual sensations in the foot of affected leg, with primary problems occurring on the bottom of the foot. The foot muscles, toes and ankle become weaker, and curling toes or flexing the foot becomes difficult. If the condition worsens, the person may develop infections and ulcers on the affected foot because of the lack of sensation. The affected foot can become permanently deformed, and sensation loss, particularly in the toes, is sometimes permanent.

A physical exam of the leg can help identify the presence of tarsal tunnel syndrome. Medical tests, such as a nerve biopsy, are also used to diagnose the condition.

Occasionally, a person with tarsal tunnel syndrome can recover without specific treatment, but over the counter pain medication is still used to reduce the discomfort associated with the condition. Treatments for more severe tarsal tunnel syndrome focus on regaining sensation and strength in the affected toes and foot. Patients may receive physical therapy and prescription painkillers if the pain isn't managed by over the counter pain relievers. A surgery designed to lessen pressure on the tibial nerve can help in some cases. The surgeon enlarges the patient's tarsal tunnel, a ligament and bone structure in the foot that the tibial nerve passes through, relieving some of the pressure on the tibial nerve.