What Causes Neuromas and How Can You Prevent Them?

When your feet hurt, it can be hard to do much of anything. Everyday tasks can quickly become uncomfortable and painful. This is especially true if you suffer from a condition known as a neuroma. Learn all about neuromas, what causes them, and how you can prevent them from forming in the first place:

What Is a Neuroma?

Also known as a pinched nerve or a nerve tumor, a neuroma is an irritated and compressed nerve that usually causes a benign overgrowth of nerve tissue to form in the feet. They are normally found on the ball of the foot, especially between the third and fourth toes. You may have a neuroma if you feel like you’re constantly walking with a pebble in your shoe, and you may experience sharp, burning pain, tingling, or numbness in the affected area.

What Causes Neuromas?

The exact cause of neuromas is unclear; however, there are a number of factors that can contribute to the formation of neuromas. Here are the most common ones:

  • Certain inherited foot archetypes. If you have flat feet or high arches, you are at a higher risk of developing a neuroma. That’s because these foot types bring instability around the toe joints.
  • Improper, ill-fitting footwear, especially shoes with a narrow, compressing toe box.
  • Wearing high heels (higher than 2 inches) frequently can increase pressure on your toes and the balls of your feet, leading to a neuroma.
  • Trauma that leads to nerve damage.
  • Repeated stress due to lifestyle or occupation can create or worsen a neuroma. This includes high-impact sports like running or rock climbing, jobs that require a person to stand for long hours.

What Symptoms Do Neuromas Cause?

Neuromas can bring on many intensely painful symptoms, including the following:

  • Pain in the ball of the foot when weight is placed on it.
  • Pain in the forefoot and between the toes.
  • Radiating and localized pain throughout the feet.
  • Swelling between the toes.
  • Tingling, numbness, or burning sensations in the ball of the foot.

How Are Neuromas Diagnosed?

Catching neuromas early is crucial, so if you experience foot pain you should definitely make an appointment with your podiatrist. During your visit, your podiatrist will examine your foot and take an X-ray to rule out other possible causes of your symptoms. Once a neuroma has been successfully diagnosed, your foot doctor will come up with a treatment plan, which, depending on the severity of your neuroma, may include conservative treatments or the possibility of surgery.

How Are Neuromas Treated?

If left untreated, neuromas can become quite painful – so much so that it will reduce the number of activities you partake in and how long you can stand or walk. Catching them as early as possible will make treatment easier and will clear up your symptoms much faster! If your neuroma is detected in the early stages, your podiatrist may suggest trying the following non-invasive treatment options to reverse the neuroma:

  • Wear simple, thick-soled shoes with a wide toe box and supportive insoles to relieve your symptoms. This is often enough to help the neuroma diminish on its own!
  • Using special padding and/or taping at the ball of your foot may help change any abnormal foot function present and relieve your painful symptoms.
  • Taking over-the-counter NSAIDs and/or trying cortisone injections can mitigate inflammation and pain in the affected foot.
  • Custom orthotics can help control your feet and reduce your symptoms.
  • Avoid high heels whenever possible to keep pressure off your forefoot.
  • Resting and massaging the foot and using an ice pack can help dull the pain and improve your comfort.

If the neuroma is more severe, you may need additional treatment and/or surgery to correct the problem and remove the tumor. If this is the case, don’t worry. The surgery is a very simple outpatient procedure that is typically performed in one day.

What Can You Do to Prevent Neuromas?

There are plenty of things you can do to keep your feet healthy and free of neuromas. Try the following tips to help prevent the formation of neuromas:

  • Always choose shoes with good arch support, shock-absorbent soles, and a wide toe box that provides plenty of space for your toes to wiggle and move.
  • Avoid high heels as much as you can to keep undue strain off your feet.
  • If possible, choose shoes with buckles or laces that allow you to easily adjust them.
  • Make sure you take plenty of breaks if you’re on your feet for long periods of time due to work or lifestyle activities.

Visit the Knowledgeable Podiatrists at The Foot & Ankle Center If you suspect you may have a neuroma or are dealing with prolonged pain, make an appointment to see the experts at The Foot & Ankle Center right away! We’re proud to provide excellent service to our patients in 6 different locations throughout the Greater St. Louis region. Call us today at (314) 487-9300 or request an appointment online!

Got Smelly Winter Boots? Try These 7 Tips to Deodorize Them

Wintertime excursions call for insulated boots to keep your feet warm and safe from frostbite. Sometimes, however, our boots do too good of a job, and our feet begin to sweat. That can cause some issues – namely, smelly feet and footwear. If you’ve been noticing that your boots are on the smellier side this winter, try these 7 easy tips to get them smelling fresh and new again:

Let Them Air Out

As soon as you’re back indoors, remove your boots and allow them to dry completely. Remove any inserts and liners your boots may have. Next, stuff your boots with newspaper – it works wonders in absorbing odor-producing moisture and sweat from the boots! Leave the newspaper in until your footwear is completely dry. If you need to venture back out before they’re dry, switch to another pair in the meantime.

Wash the Inserts and Liners Thoroughly

Remember those liners and inserts you took out in the previous step? Now it’s time to wash them. Prepare a basin of warm water, one cup of white vinegar, and just a small amount of laundry detergent, soak and scrub the items, and rinse them completely in clean water. Squeeze any remaining water out of them and hang them up to dry. Your boots should smell fresh once they’re dry!

Use Tried-and-True Odor Eaters

Deodorizing your winter boots can be as simple as using a few kitchen staples – namely baking soda, cornstarch, and coffee grounds. Mix 3 tablespoons of baking soda with 1 tablespoon of cornstarch, sprinkle it into your shoes or an old pair of socks, and let it sit overnight. Coffee grounds can also do the trick – just place one cup of fresh coffee grounds in an old pair of socks or nylon tights and leave them overnight in your shoes. Dump out the powder in the morning and voila – your boots are as good as new!

Try the Freezer

We know – it sounds kind of uncouth. But one thing that bacteria absolutely hate aside from soap is the bitter cold. Set your boots inside your freezer to kill off those pesky, odiferous bacteria overnight. Take your now-odorless boots out in the morning and let them thaw out a bit before wearing them. Don’t have a freezer but live in a colder climate? If the mercury regularly drops below freezing at night, leaving your boots outside can also work quite well!

Wear the Right Socks

Sometimes your socks can hold the answer to your problem. Wearing high-quality, moisture-wicking socks can keep your boots smelling fresh all season long and your feet sweat-free. If you tend to sweat a lot, make sure to change your socks frequently to keep your feet cool and odorless (and less prone to fungal infections)!

Pamper Your Feet Regularly

You heard it from us – now’s the time to treat your feet like royalty! Winter can be incredibly harsh on your feet, so take the time to exfoliate your feet with a pumice stone to remove dead skin cells and keep them supple and soft. Don’t forget to moisturize your feet every day as well! Just let them dry before you put them into shoes and socks.

If All Else Fails, Treat Yourself to New Boots

Let’s say you tried all these methods and nothing worked. It might be too late for your boots, so go ahead and treat yourself to a new pair – perhaps boots that have a little less insulation. If you’re unsure how much insulation your boots should have for your climate, the knowledgeable doctors at The Foot & Ankle Center can help! Struggling with sweaty, smelly feet or footwear? Have you noticed anything unusual with your feet lately? Don’t put it off – make an appointment with the experts at The Foot & Ankle Center! Call us at (314) 487-9300 or request your appointment online!

The 5 Benefits of Extracorporeal Pulse Activation Therapy (EPAT)

If you’ve ever dealt with plantar fasciitis, heel spurs, or other painful chronic podiatric ailments, you know how difficult playing sports, exercising, or even simply moving around can be. If you’ve tried conservative methods but still experience pain or difficulty with walking, you don’t need to resort to more invasive procedures to find relief. A safe, effective, non-invasive treatment known as EPAT can help you get back on your feet! Learn more about this procedure and its many benefits below:

What Is EPAT?

Also known as Extracorporeal Pulse Activation Therapy, EPAT is a non-invasive, in-office procedure used worldwide to safely and effectively treat acute and chronic musculoskeletal disorders, including plantar fasciitis, Achilles tendinitis, heel spurs, and more.

How Does EPAT Work?

This procedure is performed in our office without any form of anesthesia required. EPAT works by sending sound wave pulses into the area of injured tissues through a handheld applicator. These pulses gradually increase to the desired therapeutic level, causing harmless micro-trauma in the affected area and stimulating your body’s own healing reaction by enhancing improved blood circulation and stem cell formation. This aids in the regeneration of the injured tissue, leading to accelerated healing and resulting in pain relief of the previously injured area.

This procedure takes about 15 minutes per session with sessions taking place about a week apart from each other. Many times patients require about 3 to 5 sessions to help alleviate and reverse their pain. The longer you’ve been suffering from pain, the more treatments you may need.

Is EPAT Safe?

EPAT is an FDA-approved treatment that has virtually no risks or side effects. There have been vast FDA studies showing an approximate 90% success rate in treating plantar fasciitis and other podiatric tendon issues with EPAT.

What Are the Benefits of EPAT?

Many of our patients are satisfied with their results after being treated with EPAT! Here are the biggest benefits our patients experience after they see us for this procedure:

  • Limited downtime. Very limited downtime with a swift recovery makes EPAT an attractive choice for many patients, especially athletes looking to get back onto the field quickly. Some patients report immediate improvement after their session. Most patients, however, will feel significantly better within a few short weeks, experiencing the full benefits within 3 months as new tissue is created.

  • Noninvasive procedure. One of the greatest benefits of this procedure is its noninvasiveness. This means you don’t need to worry about the risk of infection, and there are no stitches, scars, or sutures involved!

  • No anesthesia necessary. This procedure requires absolutely no anesthesia, which is great news if you’re sensitive to anesthesia or feel uncomfortable with being put under.

  • Quick procedure with positive long-term results. Since each session lasts about 15 minutes each, you can come in to receive treatment during your lunch hour and head back to work. After these short sessions, you’ll experience pain relief that lasts for years, setting you up for long-term success.

  • Faster recovery. Because this procedure is non-invasive, recovery time is much faster compared to other more invasive measures, making EPAT a complete game-changer for countless patients. Following your therapy, you can return to your regular activities within 24-48 hours and bear weight immediately.

Is EPAT Right for Me?

If you’ve had plantar fasciitis for several months and no other treatment has proven effective, then EPAT may be right for you. This procedure may also benefit those suffering from acute or chronic pain including:

  • Achilles tendinitis
  • Heel spurs
  • Neuromas
  • Plantar fasciitis
  • Tendon pain or tendinitis of any kind

While the procedure is considered safe and effective, it isn’t recommended for those who are pregnant, those who have neurological foot disease or vascular foot disease, those with pacemakers, or patients who take medications that interfere with blood clotting.

Consult the Experts at The Foot & Ankle Center Don’t let heel pain keep you sidelined. Get back to the life you deserve by calling the friendly, knowledgeable doctors at The Foot & Ankle Center! We can help determine if EPAT is right for you. Call us at (314) 487-9300 or request an appointment with us online!

8 Tips to Help You Take Good Care of Your Feet This Winter

You might be dreaming of the long sunshine-filled days of summer, but we still have plenty of winter to go (Thanks a lot, Punxsutawney Phil!). The cold weather can make us all feel pretty miserable, and your feet are no exception. While every season comes with its own unique challenges to your feet’s health, winter can be awfully taxing on them. Healthy feet are vital to your overall health, so make sure you take good care of them and give them the pampering they richly deserve with these 8 tips!

Keep Them Clean and Dry

It really goes without saying that you should wash your feet every day, but it’s even more crucial during the cold months of winter. Clean them thoroughly each day with soap and water, and always remember to dry them thoroughly afterward to prevent potential fungal issues. While you’re on their level, carefully inspect your feet, toes, and toenails for any unusual cuts, markings, bumps, or discolorations.

Give Them a Nice Soak

If there’s any season that your feet deserve extra care, it’s in the winter. Why not treat them to a nice foot soak once in a while? Prepare a wide, shallow basin and fill it with warm (not hot) water. Sprinkle some Epsom salt and let them soak for 10-15 minutes. This is especially soothing if you suffer from heel pain! Up your TLC game by exfoliating your feet with a pumice stone, which helps remove dead skin cells and impurities from your feet, at least once a week.

Choose the Right Socks

Winter calls for thick, warm socks to keep your feet dry and protected from the cold. Unfortunately, wet or sweaty feet can often lead to skin issues or a greater susceptibility of fungal infections. Choose moisture-wicking socks made from wool blends to keep your feet dry. Regardless of what kind of socks you’re wearing, always make sure you take off your socks and shoes as soon as possible after they become wet. There’s no rule saying you can’t change socks a few times a day, especially when you’re out in the snow, ice, or rain!

Moisturize Them Daily

Dry skin is so common in the winter since most of us are inside our homes where the heat is on and the humidity is low. It’s not unusual for us to hear that our patients are suffering from painful cracked skin, especially on their heels. Well, now you’ve heard it from us: break out that foot cream and start moisturizing your feet every day! It will help keep your feet supple and soft all season long. Prone to dry skin? Don’t forget to stay hydrated, especially if you suffer from diabetes.

Be Smart When Choosing Boots

Boots are essential in the cold months. When picking out your next pair, keep the following things in mind:

  • Look for waterproof material to keep your feet dry in the snow and rain.
  • Make sure you accommodate for any thick socks you’ll be wearing. It might be wise to size up. The smartest thing you could do? Wear those socks when you try on boots to see which size fits best.
  • Before you slip your socks and boots on, consider using foot powder to keep your feet from sweating too much and ward off potential bacterial or fungal infections.

Protect Your Feet From the Elements

Maybe you’re stepping out of the house for “just a minute” to snag the mail or run an errand a block or so away and you toss on sandals or flip-flops to help you get the job done. A word of advice from us: don’t. Exposing your feet to extreme temperatures and cold, bitter wind can easily (and quickly) harm your skin, nerves and blood vessels. Keep your summertime footwear back in the closet for now and protect your feet with boots or other appropriate wintertime footwear to keep your feet warm, dry, and supported.

Keep Them Moving

You know how your body feels sluggish and slow to warm up in the winter? Your feet are like that, too. Cold weather can easily make us – and our feet – less flexible, so take the time to stretch them out, especially before exercising. Try calf exercises and leg lifts, curl your toes and stretch them out, and move your feet in circular motions. This will help get fresh blood flowing into your feet, helping to keep them warm, flexible, and healthy (oh, and less prone to injury, too)!

Be Smart When Exercising

Do you enjoy skiing or snowboarding? Make sure you partake in your favorite winter activities in the proper footwear (and ensure that your shoes fit correctly!). For those who enjoy running or walking headlong in the brutal winter winds, remember to wear warm, lightweight, moisture-wicking socks to stay warm and dry. If you come across any icy patches, shorten your stride to remain stable and help prevent injuries. Want to take the best care of your feet this winter? Schedule an appointment with the friendly and knowledgeable doctors at The Foot & Ankle Center. Our experts can keep your feet in tip-top shape in one of our six convenient locations. Call us today at (314) 487-9300 or request an appointment online!

5 Reasons to Consider Bunion Surgery

If you have a bunion, you know how painful and unsightly they can be. Fortunately, there are many ways they can be treated, including many conservative measures. If you find yourself living in constant pain and being unable to do the activities you once did because of your bunion, you might need to consider surgery. Read on to learn more about bunions, how they’re treated, and why bunion surgery could be a smart choice for you:

What Is a Bunion?

Also known as hallux valgus, a bunion is a bony bump that gradually appears at the base of your big toe joint. It’s not unusual for your big toe to bend toward and push or overlap the other toes on the foot if you have a bunion. This podiatric condition is often genetic since people tend to inherit their foot structure from their parents, but they can also be brought about or worsened by wearing ill-fitting shoes or shoes with a narrow toe box.

How Are Bunions Typically Treated?

Because they begin to show up over time, bunions may at first present themselves to be painless and unnoticeable. As they progress, however, you might begin noticing swelling or redness around the big toe joint, a bony protrusion that continues to grow, or pain or stiffness in the affected area. Bunions don’t go away on their own; if left untreated, they can lead to other conditions like arthritis, limited mobility, and other podiatric deformities.

If your bunion causes you mild to moderate pain, some conservative measures can help relieve your discomfort. Your podiatrist may advise you to try the following first:

  • Wearing comfortable shoes with plenty of wiggle room in the toe box
  • Taping your foot to keep it in a normal position
  • Padding the bunion with moleskin or gel pads
  • Taking over-the-counter pain relievers
  • Applying ice packs on the affected region
  • Using orthotic shoe inserts

When Should I Consider Surgery for My Bunion?

You may want to consult with your podiatrist and talk about surgical options if any of these reasons apply to you:

  • Pain is consistent, severe, and impeding your daily activities.
  • It hurts to put pressure on the affected foot.
  • Walking is difficult because of your symptoms.
  • You’re experiencing a more limited range of motion in your feet.
  • You struggle to fit your feet into regular footwear.
  • The aforementioned conservative treatments are no longer giving you relief.

5 Reasons Why You Should Consider Bunion Surgery

If you’re thinking about having bunion surgery because of the above reasons, you may find that it’s the smartest move you could make in regaining your quality of life. Here are our top reasons why bunion surgery could be what you need:

  • It relieves your pain. There’s no doubt about it – bunions can be quite painful. Many of our patients, however, have found that the surgery helps alleviate their pain and gives them long-term relief!

  • It’s more efficient than other methods. There are several types of bunion surgery; the kind you’ll need will depend on your unique situation. Additionally, this type of surgery is becoming more sophisticated and allows for smaller incisions and faster downtime.

  • It helps you lead a healthier life. Painful, protruding bunions often cause patients to shy away from engaging in their favorite activities or even simply walking. Once it’s removed, though, patients have found that they can enjoy a greater level of physical activity, which helps them live a healthier, more active life.

  • It’s performed as an outpatient procedure. This means you can go home to recover the same day as your surgery!

  • It boosts your confidence. Patients tend to feel very self-conscious about their bunion and avoid wearing sandals or going barefoot because of it. Eliminating the bunion through surgery can help patients feel more relaxed and comfortable with their feet once more.

The Experts at The Foot & Ankle Center Can Help Don’t let your bunion control your life. Schedule an appointment with the knowledgeable and friendly doctors at The Foot & Ankle Center to see if bunion surgery is right for you! Call us at (314) 487-9300 or request an appointment online to get started!