Posts for: December, 2009
Don't compromise your game!
The right foot gear will keep you performing your best and injury free.
By Dr. Andrew Saffer
During a ten mile run, the feet make approximately 15,000 strikes, at a force of three to four times your body's weight. Even strolling around your neighborhood for an evening walk puts about one and a half times your bodyweight on your feet. The average non-athletic person will log approximately 1,000 miles per year on their feet. Twenty six bones work with the foot's ligaments, muscles and tendons in two very small structures to support and balance the weight of your entire body. And you thought they were just feet.
Whether you're training for the Bridge Run, playing tennis, or even golf, it's essential to make sure that your feet are comfortable and protected. It's important to remember that foot problems are not only menacing to your feet but can also affect the proper functioning of other parts of the body, including the hip, knee, and back. Because these injuries are progressive, you are probably not even aware of the damage that you're doing.
Before we go any further let's discuss common foot disorders that could be problematic over time and some basic treatment options. A majority of foot pain is the result of a faulty relationship between the bones and muscles of the foot. Incorrect alignment can result in significant discomfort. This abnormal function can lead to foot disorders such as plantar fasciitis (heel pain), achilles tendonitis, bunions, hammertoes, and calluses.
Many of these common "overuse" injuries can be attributed directly or indirectly to improper shoes. Choosing appropriate footwear will not only help prevent injuries but will also let you participate to the best of your ability.
For example, with respect to running shoes it is essential that your specific foot type matches the construction of the running shoe. Pain can result when the shoes' construction doesn't match your foot type. All shoes are constructed from a "last" which is the inside shape of the shoe. Generally, running shoes have a straight last, modified last, or a curved last.
If you have been told that you have a flat arch then you would most benefit from a straight last shoe which maintains support beneath the arch. If you have a high arch foot you would benefit from a curved last shoe which provides more cushioning. If your feet are neutral then you should choose a modified last shoe. Fortunately, most athletic shoe stores employ people who have knowledge of the factors that go into choosing the right pair of shoes.
For some, the right shoe is only half the battle. Custom molded orthotics are prescription medical devices that can be made from various techniques such as plaster cast impression, foam boxes, and our new state of the art technique, "Three dimensional digital scanning."They are designed to control alignment and function of the foot in order to treat or prevent injury-causing forces on bones, joints, tendons, and ligaments. Often, orthotics are used to limit motions such as excessive pronation where your arch may tend to collapse inward. They also make activities such as running, walking, and standing more efficient. Orthotics work like shock absorbers to remove pressure and stress from painful areas in your foot and ankle. They can restore balance, improve sport performance and even alleviate pain in the knee, hip, and lower back. Orthotics are sport specific and different sports may require different orthotics (golf shoes, cycling shoes, tennis sneakers, ski boots, etc.)
Forgive my digression but it should also be noted that in addition to providing relief from painful foot problems or injury, custom orthotics may also benefit people who must walk or stand excessively on the job. In the case of overweight individuals, orthotics can help to counteract the extra stress on the feet, as minor problems are often magnified due to increased weight and stress.
Our new state of the art digial scanner system captures a digital scan of the feet, in a neurtal stance position. The three dimensional image is sent to our orthotic technicians via email. Based on our specific prescription, the technicians customize a device to meet the patient's specific needs.
The orthotic style most often used in athletes is semi-rigid. It allows for dynamic balance of the foot while running or participating in sports. By guiding the foot through proper functions, it allows the muscles and tendons to perform more efficiently. It is constructed of layers of soft materials, reinforced with more rigid materials.
You may be surprised to find that your insurance company will fully or partially cover custom orthotics. Many insurance companies are beginning to recognize that for some, orthotics can be an effective tool in eliminating pain and promoting the overall health and well being of the foot and therefore the rest of the body.
As you gear up for Spring, make sure that you have the appropriate shoes paired with an orthotic device (if necessary) so that the muscles, tendons and bones of your feet function at their highest potential.
You can find more information about this topic and others online at www.carolinafootspecialists.net.
Heal that Heel Pain
By Dr. Andrew Saffer, DPM
Podiatric Medicine and Surgery
Do your first few steps out of bed in the morning cause severe pain in your heel? If so you may be suffering from "heel pain syndrome", often referred to as "heel spurs." The typical signs and symptoms for this condition are usually severe pain upon first rising in the morning. Resting can provide only temporary relief. Typically, the pain reoccurs after sitting or resting and then rising. The intermittent pain often can progress to a dull aching pain.
Arch pain is often caused by frequent stress on the plantar aspect, or bottom of the foot. The plantar fascia is a supportive, fibrous band of tissue running from the heel to the ball of the foot. When the fascia becomes injured, pain on the bottom of the foot results.
Heel spur syndrome, related to plantar fasciitis, occurs after calcium deposits build up on the underside of the heel bone. The spur itself is usually not the cause of pain; the pain is actually from the soft tissue injury to the fascia.
A majority of patient's heel pain resolves completely with conservative treatment. Treatment includes rest from strenuous activity, application of ice, stretching exercises, foot strappings, night splints, foot orthotic devices, cortisone injections, immoblization with a walking boot, and physical therapy.
Shockwave Therapy (Non-invasive surgery)
Extracorporeal shockwave therapy, is a non-invasive treatment option for the intense, persistent heel pain associated with chronic plantar fasciitis. This non-invasive out-patient treatment represents a breakthrough for this condition. Using a unique process known as Orthotripsy shock waves are emitted, similar to those used to treat kidney stones, to increase blood flow and stimulate healing of the affected heel. Shockwave therapy usually allows for patients to return to their activities within a day of the treatment. Some patients report immediate pain relief after treatment, although it can take up to four weeks for pain relief to commence. Shockwave therapy takes approximately 30 minutes and is performed as an outpatient or office procedure. In conclusion most patients who suffer from plantar fasciitis fully recover. Patients who have not responded to conservative treatment may benefit from shockwave therapy. It is a reasonable option to consider prior to surgical intervention, which involves releasing the plantar fascial ligament. The potential side-effects of shockwave therapy are minimal. Therefore, shockwave therapy is a safe alternative to surgery when patients have failed a minimum six months of conservative treatment.
Have you ever experienced pain and swelling on the top of the foot? If you have you may have a condition called a stress fracture.
Stress fractures are small, hairline breaks that can occur in the bones of the foot. They can be caused without trauma to the foot. Typically stress fractures can be caused by overtraining, improper training habits, improper shoe gear, flatfoot or other foot deformities, and even osteoporosis. It is imperative that this injury is recognized and treated as soon as possible by a foot and ankle specialists.
Pain, swelling, and possibly bruising can be signs of a stress fracture. The fracture can occur almost anywhere in the foot. The metatarsal bones are one of the most common locations of stress fractures of the foot. X-rays and other studies are used to diagnose stress fractures. Stress fractures may not be visible for 10 to 14 days on x-ray examination. Possible treatments include rest and possible immobilization of the foot ( with a cam walker walking boot/or below knee cast). In some cases, surgery may be required to stabilize the stress fracture or to repair a stress fracture that has progressed to a fracture.
Welcome to the Blog of Carolina Foot Specialists
Whether you are an existing patient or searching for a podiatrist in the Charleston area, we're excited you are here. With the podiatry industry advancing, we recognize the importance of keeping our patients and visitors up to date with all of the new and exciting things taking place in our practice.
As we move forward with our blog, we hope to promote podiatric awareness as a vital part of your healthy, active lifestyle.Here you will find a variety of articles and topics including the latest developments in podiatry, podiatric treatments and helpful foot care advice from Drs Brown and Saffer and their staff.
We hope you find our blog to be helpful, engaging and informational to ensure the long-term health of your feet.
As always, feel free to contact us with any questions or concerns.
-- The Carolina Foot Specialist Team