How to Relieve Foot Arthritis Pain

When talking about foot arthritis pain, it’s important to mention that arthritis is a general term that refers to more than 100 different illnesses. However, these illnesses all seem to have one thing in common, inflammation in and around the joints and the nearby soft tissue. With many kinds of arthritis, the smooth cartilage between your joints wears down over time, causing the bones on either side of the joint to meet and wear against each other. This, coupled with inflammation, can cause severe pain.

Before we get to how we must address the what. First, we must explain the different types of foot arthritis to explain what you can do for pain relief.  

Different Types of Foot Arthritis

Osteoarthritis, also known as wear-and-tear- arthritis, is the most common form of arthritis in older populations. Doctors refer to it as a degenerative joint disease, as it causes changes over many years. Foot and ankle joints are the most common locations for individuals to develop osteoarthritis.

Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease in that an individual’s immune system attacks their joints. This usually happens to the same joint on both sides of the body.

Gout is the buildup of uric acid in the body caused by dietary choices. It is most common to experience gout in the big toe, as it is the farthest away from the heart.

Psoriatic arthritis can happen in one or more joints. This includes the ankle and the ends of your toes. It may also cause your foot to swell.

Post-traumatic arthritis occurs after a severe injury such as joint dislocation or bone fracture. In cases of post-traumatic arthritis, an individual who suffers may not experience problems until years after the initial injury.

Symptoms of Foot Arthritis

There are many different types of symptoms that accompany foot arthritis. Here are some of the most common:

  • Tenderness when you touch the joint
  • Pain when you move the joint
  • Trouble moving, walking, or putting weight on the affected limb
  • Joint stiffness, warmth, or swelling
  • More pain and swelling after resting (e.g., sitting and sleeping)

Foot Arthritis Treatment

The treatment of foot arthritis is as wide-ranging as the condition is. There are many different steps you can take to help reduce pain and protect your joints. Here are few things you can do to fight back against your arthritis.

Steroid Injections

Steroid injections are great for addressing pain. However, it’s important to remember that they only mask the symptom, they don’t cure the underlying condition. You also have to be careful how often you use them. Unfortunately, too much of a good thing, and you risk weakening bones, ligaments, and tendons in the affected area.

NSAIDs

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, like ibuprofen and aspirin, are great for controlling swelling. These types of drugs help block a group of chemicals called prostaglandins. These chemicals play a role in pain and inflammation. While these can be helpful, make sure to speak with your doctor before long or short-term use, as the side effects of the medicines include cardiovascular and GI issues. Your doctor may opt for a topical anti-inflammatory instead, which will carry fewer sides effects.

Shoe Inserts

Shoe inserts that support your foot and ankle also referred to as orthotics, are great ways to help heal arthritis and manage pain. Orthotics are excellent because they’re custom-made. So, they can be customized to change the mechanics of an individual’s foot. They can also be more accommodating to someone’s feet by providing more cushioning.

Custom-Fitted Shoes or a More High-End Shoe

Custom-fitted shoes or a more high-end shoe that offers enough support and toe room is key for those who suffer from arthritis. You’ll want to avoid going barefoot as much as possible, so it’s important that the shoe you pick is comfortable for long periods of time. Avoid heels, flats, or any other shoes with a thin sole. It’s also important to remember to replace your shoes regularly. High-end athletic shoes with soft orthotic soles have a set number of miles built into them. Wear them past that number and the shoe will fail to give you the proper support that your foot needs.

Physical Therapy

Physical therapy is critical in easing pain and preventing damage done by arthritis. There are many different methods that help with symptoms, such as massage, whirlpool, cold packs, ultrasound, and lasers. After the inflammation has been reduced, the physical therapist can then create a program to help their patient build strength, gain more flexibility in the joint, and restore balance, all to reduce the amount of stress put on the affected joint.

Lose Weight

As mentioned above, it’s important to reduce the amount of stress put on the affected joint. One way you can do this is to lose weight. Even if it’s five to ten pounds, that’s enough to help relieve stress from your joints. You can also wear toe caps. To caps are small sleeves made of gel or compression fabric. While they won’t cure arthritis, they can help to relieve pressure and reduce pain during flare-ups.

Surgery

Some people have no choice but to get surgery to help relieve the pain they feel from their arthritis. While surgery is generally reserved for severe cases, the following procedures are considered quite common:

  1. Fusion Surgery- fusing the bones that comprise a joint with rods, pins, screws, or plates. After the surgery site heals, the bones remained joined
  2. Joint Replacement Surgery-also known as an arthroplasty; a doctor will take out the damaged bone and cartilage and replace it with metal or plastic.

Make an Appointment with The Foot & Ankle Center

We help heal everything. From the orthotics to the pain management, trust The Foot & Ankle Center to fix your feet. For more information or to book an appointment, click here.


I Rolled My Ankle. Now What?

So, you were playing tennis or basketball. You took a sharp turn and rolled your ankle. Don’t feel embarrassed. It happens to an odd 25,000 people every single day. What’s important is that you know how to identify a severe ankle sprain from a milder one and what you can do to help yourself get back on your feet.

What Is an Ankle Sprain?

There are two types of ankle sprains:

  1. Eversion Sprain- an inward ankle roll that affects the tendons and ligaments on the inside of your ankle. These tendons and ligaments also help support the arch of the foot.
  2. Inversion Sprain- an outward ankle roll that affects the tendons and ligaments on the outside of your ankle.

Ligaments are strong, fibrous tissues that connect the bone of your ankle to the bones of your leg. When you roll or sprain your ankle you are stretching or tearing these tissues.   

Sprained ankles are easy to spot. You will most likely feel pain right in the area where the ligament(s) has been stretched or torn. You’ll experience immediate swelling and sometimes bruising.

In more severe cases, you’ll feel and/or hear a pop(s) followed by extreme pain and the inability to put any weight on the injured limb.

Medications

Pain medications for rolled ankles are usually relegated to over-the-counter medication you can find at any pharmacy. Advil, Aleve, and Tylenol are generally enough to manage the pain.

The Common Treatment

P.R.I.C.E is a commonly used acronym to help outline the steps one should take to help heal their sprained ankle. The meaning behind each letter is detailed below.

  • Protect injured limb- keep the injured ankle still in the first moments, hours, and day of the injury
  • Rest- avoid all activities that cause more pain, swelling, and discomfort
  • Ice- Use an ice pack or ice bath for 15 to 20 minutes every two to three hours you are awake for the first 72 hours following the injury
  • Compression- Use an elastic bandage to wrap around the injured foot and ankle. The compression will help with swelling, but make sure not to wrap it too tight, or you risk cutting off circulation to the area
  • Elevation- Elevate the ankle above your heart, especially while you’re sleeping. Gravity will help drain the area of any excess fluid, which will help bring the swelling down

The P.R.I.C.E. approach is great for mild sprains. The key in the first 72 hours is to manage swelling and pain.

Therapy Following an Ankle Sprain

You’ll want to start experimenting with movement following the first 72 hours.  Studies show that gentle exercise is beneficial for recovery because it helps create blood flow that may speed up the recovery process.

Talk with your doctor or physical therapist for exercises you can do to help promote strength, balance, stability, and range of motion. Balance and stability exercises are key to a healthy recovery because these help retrain the ankle muscles to work together to support the joint, which helps prevent a sprain from reoccurring.

Some exercises you can try on your own are walking (when possible), trace the alphabet with your big toe, and stretching your calf by leaning with your hands flat against a wall and your affected leg straightened behind you. 

When Do I Call My Doctor?

If you experience severe pain and swelling after attempting self-care techniques, and/or you hear a pop when the roll occurs, we suggest you make an appointment to see your primary care physician just to make sure you haven’t torn any ligaments.

Torn ligaments may require surgery to repair them or to completely reconstruct them using surrounding tissue from a near-by ligament or tendon.

Long-Term Care

One of the key things you should avoid when healing from a sprained ankle is footwear that makes your ankle unstable. Go for a comfortable, supportive shoe with a wide toe box.  Stretching is another important factor you shouldn’t overlook. You should be stretching your ankle and leg before and after exercise, as well as casually throughout the day. Finally, just because your ankle feels better doesn’t mean you should stop trying to strengthen the joint. Continue with ankle strengthening exercises, and you should be set to get back out on the court.

The Foot & Ankle Center

Believe you’ve rolled your ankle or injured more than what you can manage at home? Request an appointment today at one of The Foot & Ankle Center’s six convenient St. Louis locations.  Our expert podiatrists are here to help you manage your pain, heal what’s been broken, and to get you feeling your best.


Go-To Supportive Summer Shoes

Shoes are expressive and supportive. After changing into clothes for work, the gym, or hanging out with friends, you grab a pair of shoes to complete the outfit. They make you stand a little taller, walk a little faster, and go a little farther.

No matter how casual and easy to wear, flip flops will always lack much-needed support. They’re ok if only used for a couple of hours; any more than that, and pain could occur in your arch and heel, and your feet could become tired and sore. Instead, opt for shoes with more arch support, thicker soles, and cushion. Let’s take a look at the go-to supportive summer shoes:

Mules

Want a shoe that is easy to slip on, like flip flops, but is comfortable to wear? Mules are the answer! People love wearing mules because there’s no heel for the back of the foot to rub against. Also, less pressure is applied to the balls of your feet since mules have a low heel height.

Sandals

Sandal straps are good because they hold your feet in place. Adjustable straps are even better, as they can accommodate for bunions, hammertoes, wide feet, and more. Pay attention to the middle of the sole. If it bends, the sandal has poor arch support. So, look for sandals with a thick sole and good arch support as you’re shopping or evaluating the shoes you own.

Loafers

Loafers are a great alternative to wearing heels and are just as professional. Compared to heels, loafers have more shock absorption and support. The sides and top of your foot will be supported by material. This all means less foot pain for you.  As you walk your company through your presentation, you’ll stand a little taller with the right pair of shoes. 

Wedges

The best height for wedges? 2 inches or less! With each inch added, more pressure is applied to the ball of your foot, and your weight is less evenly distributed. A lower heel will allow you to walk for hours. Go dancing with your friends, and see how much faster you can dance with the right footwear. For more comfort and to prevent injury, put on wedges with a flexible forefront.

Sneakers or Closed-Toe Shoes

This option is perfect for going to the gym or on a hike. Sneakers, hiking boots, or other closed-toe shoes offer more protection than others. However, the one thing to watch out for is sweat. Choose shoes with a leather or mesh fabric to allow feet to breathe. With the proper footwear, you’ll go further on your exercise journey.

Chunky Sneakers

Dad shoes are in style! Their popularity made them stand out this season. Why, you ask? They provide excellent arch support, and their material has enough support for people to walk or stand for hours. Plus, they’re trendy!

See A Podiatrist Before Shoe Shopping

All of these summer shoes are go-to options for supporting your feet. Yet, if your feet are in constant pain, consider seeing a podiatrist. The doctors at The Foot & Ankle Center have the expertise to pinpoint the source of your pain and create a customized treatment plan. Call (314) 487-9300 or request an appointment today!


How to Keep Your Feet Healthy During the Summer

Flip flop and sandal season is in full swing! Nothing beats freeing your feet from heavy winter shoes. As you go about your vacation and enjoy the outdoors, be mindful of how to keep your feet healthy this summer.

Put Sunscreen on Your Feet

Even SPF 100 has hit stores, and applying sunscreen has become an essential part of enjoying outdoor activities. It’s easy to remember to protect the face, arms, and legs from the sun’s harmful rays, but what about feet? Yes, even feet can become sunburnt! Ensure sunscreen is on your ankles, heels, and the backs and tops of your feet. Do this before putting on flip flops or sandals, as you won’t want an oddly shaped sunburn!

Limit Time Spent in Flip Flops

This quintessential summertime footwear has its ups and downs. While easy to put on and inexpensive, flip flops are flimsy and lack support. Continuous use can lead to arch and heel pain and tired and sore feet. So, while flip flops are perfect for wearing to the beach or letting the dog out, it’s best to wear more supportive shoes when walking for extended periods of time.

Break in Sandals Gradually

With a new season comes new shoes! Putting winter boots and sneakers in the closet and pulling out new sandals is thrilling. However, these sandal straps can apply uncomfortable pressure to your foot and cause painful blisters to appear. Prevent this by wearing sandals for short amounts of time until they’re broken in. Wear them around the house to loosen up the straps a bit, and you’ll be able to wear them on vacation without getting blisters.

Don’t Go Barefoot A Lot

Letting your feet go barefoot can be a great part of summer. Feel the firm hardwood floors, soft grass blades, cool water from the pool. This carefree state of mind makes summer even more enjoyable. Yet, walking around barefoot can lead to bacterial infections and plantar warts. So, when out and about in high traffic areas, like the locker room and hotel hallways, make sure to wear something on your feet.

Prevent Smelly Feet

An all too common part of the summer is having sweaty and smelly feet. You don’t need to feel embarrassed. Prevent foot odors from occurring by changing out socks daily, or even more when needed, and wearing open-toed shoes when possible. Remember to wash your feet every day and dry them carefully, and alternate shoes daily to let them dry.

Take Along Skin-Care Items

Bringing along first aid supplies is always a good idea. You never know when you might need them! Along with standard first aid supplies – like antibiotic cream to treat skin injuries and bandages to cover minor cuts and scrapes – pack these extra skin-care items for your feet:

  • Aloe vera to relieve sunburns
  • Blister pads to reduce friction and promote healing
  • A pumice stone to soften and exfoliate skin
  • Nail clippers to keep nails trimmed
  • A nail file to smooth rough edges

Consult a Podiatrist with Any Questions

Do you think your feet are not summer-ready? Or did you injure your foot on vacation and need medical attention? Talk with one of our knowledgeable doctors at The Foot & Ankle Center. We can identify the exact problem and help you get back to having fun in the sun! Call us at (314) 487-9300 or request an appointment online today!


5 Foot Care Tips for Athletes

There are many aspects to being an athlete. It’s not enough to just watch what you eat, make sure you have the optimal amount of sleep, and devote enough time to practicing your sport. Taking care of your feet is also essential! Don’t wait until your feet hurt to take care of them or this could lead to more time sitting on the sidelines while others are competing.  Instead, follow these 5 foot care tips for athletes to maximize your athletic performance:

Choose the Right Footwear

It can be tempting to just grab a pair of shoes and go! After all, you have a practice to go to, a coach to meet, teammates to join, a game to win. However, it’s important to wear the right shoes for the sport you play, whether it’s running on the track or dribbling a basketball across the court. Read our article here on how to choose new shoes that are the right fit and prevent injuries from occurring during your workout. Above all, make sure the shoes are comfortable and supportive with a wide toe box, even if it means function over fashion.

Wear the Right Socks

Deciding on what type of sock to wear might seem insignificant. After all, if it’s a protective layer between the shoe and feet, shouldn’t any sock be ok? However, ill-fitting socks can lead to blisters and discomfort. Many professional athletes use sports compression socks. It’s ideal to wear socks that are lightweight and consist of moisture-wicking material.

Practice Good Hygiene for Your Feet

Did you know there’s more to keeping your feet clean than taking a shower? Here’s how you can keep your feet healthy and prevent fungus and bacteria from forming:

  • Keep your socks and shoes clean, and never wear wet shoes
  • Wear footwear in public places, like swimming pools
  • Change socks if your feet get sweaty, even if that means several times a day
  • Clean the entire foot, even between the toes, and dry both feet completely

Ease into New Sporting Activities

We know how exciting it feels to begin a new training program or sports season. This is especially true for those with seasonal activities like tennis. Getting out of the house, grabbing your gear, and stepping out onto the court is like a breath of fresh air! Yet, it’s important to give your muscles time to adjust to these new activities. To prevent injuries, make sure you ease into your workout by stretching beforehand and moving at a comfortable pace while gradually increasing your speed or intensity until you reach your goal!

Know When to Rest

Athletes can feel tired or have some aches after their workout, but they shouldn’t be in pain. While it might seem like it’ll go away and you can force yourself to play, doing so will make injuries worse. Rather than spending weeks to recover, it’s best to stop and rest your feet. You’ll be glad you did because then you can get back to the sport you love more quickly!

Know When to See a Podiatrist

If you are suffering from a foot or ankle sports injury or noticing pain in those areas, it’s time to see a podiatrist! Our friendly and knowledgeable specialists at The Foot & Ankle Center will know just how to help by providing thorough evaluations and personalized treatment plans. Call us today at (314) 487-9300 or request an appointment online with us!