10 Reasons Why Every Athlete Should Visit a Podiatrist

As an athlete, you’re always on your feet. While you’re busy rebounding and slam-dunking, outrunning your opponent on the track field, or even getting in a good sweat session at the gym, your feet are hard at work. If you want to keep them in tip-top shape and avoid injury, you’ll want to schedule an appointment with your podiatrist. Here are our top 10 reasons why every athlete should see a foot and ankle specialist:

You’re a Runner (or Just Run a Lot)

Each time your foot hits the ground, a great deal of force travels up through your bones and connective tissue. This seemingly simple action can often make runners become more susceptible to aches, pains, and injuries. A knowledgeable podiatrist can give you tips to help you prevent future injuries, properly assess your athletic shoes, and provide you with tools like custom orthotics to keep your feet safe.

You Have Diabetes

Diabetes is already difficult enough to deal with, but athletes suffering from this disease should make it a point to visit their podiatrist regularly. Why? Diabetes puts you at a greater risk for developing podiatric issues. Fortunately, you can avoid complications by regularly inspecting your feet. If you notice anything out of the ordinary at all – even if it’s dry skin – make an appointment to see your podiatrist.

You Have Corns or Calluses

You might think that these thickened sections of skin are no big deal, but they can build up and become even thicker as time passes, causing you pain. You should definitely get these dead layers of skin checked out by your podiatrist. Your feet will feel so much better after you do!

You See Discoloration

Have your feet or toes become a bit more colorful lately? Even though you might not notice any pain, discoloration can be a warning sign of a more sinister underlying condition like melanoma (skin cancer). If you happen to see any unusual moles or coloration on any part of your feet or ankles, call your podiatrist right away!

You Experience Numbness

Numbness is never normal in any part of the body, including your feet. If you’re experiencing tingling or numbness, you could be dealing with diabetes, neurological issues, or even peripheral artery disease. Don’t ignore it – your podiatrist can help!

You’re Experiencing a Nail Issue

They’re unpleasant but nothing to be ashamed of – countless people experience nail issues like ingrown nails and fungus! In fact, it’s best to get these seemingly minor issues evaluated sooner rather than later – in time, they can cause you pain and can even sideline you. If you begin noticing discoloration, pain, or redness or swelling on the affected toe, it’s time to call your foot and ankle doctor.

You Have a Bunion

You know you have a bunion if you notice a large bump at the base of your big toe. This condition occurs when the bone or tissue at the big toe’s joint moves out of place. As you can imagine, this condition can often become quite painful! If you notice this happening to one or both of your feet, don’t wait. Visit your podiatrist for treatment!

You Have Athlete’s Foot

Just because you’re an athlete doesn’t mean you need to have athlete’s foot! This common fungal condition can easily make your athletic activities more challenging – and we don’t mean in a good way. If you notice that your feet have started looking scaly or feel itchy, call your foot doctor right away!

You’re Walking a Little Off Lately

Have you started feeling like your gait is different lately? If so, you could be at risk for a neurological issue or other underlying health problems. Walking incorrectly can cause more harm throughout your body, so you should call your podiatrist to evaluate your feet before the issue worsens (especially if you’re standing or moving around a lot!).

You Want to Take the Best Possible Care of Your Feet

Knowledge is power, and this power can translate to greater podiatric (and overall) health! Visit your podiatrist for a comprehensive, preventative examination to keep you active in your favorite sport. A well-versed podiatrist can evaluate your shoes, educate you on how your feet interact with the ground, counsel you in biomechanics, and give you additional tips on how you can prevent injuries! Don’t wait until an injury benches you from your favorite sport! Call the friendly, knowledgeable doctors at The Foot & Ankle Center for any of your podiatric needs. You can reach us at (314) 487-9300 or request your appointment with us online!

Everything There Is to Know About Flat Feet

Have you ever stopped to think about just how awesome your feet really are? The sheer biomechanics that go into each step you take are frankly mind-blowing. For instance, one of the foot’s unsung heroes, the arch, works hard to evenly distribute our body weight as we walk, dance, and move. If you have flat feet or fallen arches, however, your biomechanics aren’t as optimized as they can be. In fact, you may be regularly experiencing some painful symptoms without knowing why! Read more about flat feet and what you can do to get your feet in great shape:

What Are Flat Feet?

Also known as fallen arches, flat feet is a condition in which the arches in your feet are either very low or even nonexistent. You may find that both of your feet lie flat on the ground when you’re standing or may notice your feet rolling inward when you walk. This condition, which affects around 30% of the population, often causes shoes to wear out unevenly or more quickly than usual.

What Causes Flat Feet?

Flat feet can occur one of two ways: either you’re born with them or they develop over time. People are often unaware that they have flat feet, especially if they aren’t experiencing any painful symptoms. If genes aren’t to be blamed for your flat feet, they may develop due to obesity, a specific podiatric injury, overuse from physical activities, or simply accumulated wear and tear.

How Can I Tell if I Have Flat Feet?

Do the arches of your feet touch the floor whenever you stand? If so, you have flat feet. If you can’t tell, try this nifty trick:

Fill a shallow pan with enough water to fully cover the bottom. Step in the pan with a bare foot, then step onto a flat surface that will clearly show your footprint (construction paper will work!). Step off and examine the evidence. If you see all or more than half of your foot in the print, then it’s safe to say you have flat feet!

Just remember, nothing can ever take the place of a thorough evaluation from a podiatrist!

What Are the Symptoms of Flat Feet?

The ligaments and muscles in those with flat feet are often strained, which is why our patients often report feeling pain in their heels and arches. This pain may also worsen whenever you stand or move for extended periods of time. You may also experience swelling around the inside of your ankles or may have trouble standing on your tiptoes.

Do I Need to Be Concerned?

If you have flat feet, don’t be alarmed. It’s fairly common and typically doesn’t require any treatment. Just be aware that this condition can make it difficult for you to walk or run because it places increased stress on the ankles, and it can also lead to ankle and knee problems later in life. If you think you have flat feet or have been experiencing chronic foot pain that interrupts your life, you should consider visiting your podiatrist.

How Are Flat Feet Treated?

Let’s say you want or need treatment for your fallen arches. Fortunately, there are several conservative methods your podiatrist may suggest to help relieve your symptoms! Here are some of the most popular treatments for flat feet:

  • Using arch supports or orthotics
  • Wearing comfortable, supportive shoes with a low heel
  • Exercising and stretching the feet and Achilles tendons often
  • Undergoing physical therapy, which is an especially common treatment for athletes with flat feet

Should I See a Podiatrist for Flat Feet? It’s always a smart idea to visit your podiatrist if you have flat feet, especially if you’re experiencing pain that gets in the way of your daily activities. The knowledgeable doctors at The Foot & Ankle Center can give you a proper diagnosis and draw up a tailored treatment plan to help alleviate any symptoms you may be feeling. Call us today at (314) 487-9300 to schedule your appointment or request an appointment online!

Blisters Bugging You? Here’s Exactly What You Should Do

It happened again. You decided to slip on your sneakers and hit the pavement for a while. Unfortunately, you got a little too ambitious and walked longer than you expected in newer shoes, and you can start to feel a blister coming on. What should you do? We’ve got all the answers to help you deal with those painful blisters (and how you can prevent them in the future). Read all about it below!

What are Blisters?

If we had to describe blisters in three words, we would say they are: small, uncomfortable, and inconvenient. These pockets of fluid form on areas of your feet that have been subjected to repetitive friction (like your heel and toes). Heat builds up and causes painful swelling, and you may or may not notice fluid being present within the resulting blisters.

What Causes Blisters to Form?

Friction is the main culprit; however, sometimes coming into contact with irritants and even certain autoimmune diseases can trigger blisters to form! Much of the time, you can chalk it up to tight or ill-fitting shoes rubbing up against your feet, especially after you’ve walked for a long period of time.

Should I Pop Blisters?

We know what you’re thinking, and the answer is no, you shouldn’t pop blisters. Why? You run the risk of causing an infection, especially if you have diabetes, poor circulation, or a compromised immunity. Blisters usually contain harmless watery fluid, which isn’t a cause for concern. Larger blisters – especially those that are very painful – could be filled with blood or pus and should be examined by a professional.

Well, Then How Should I Treat Blisters?

Here’s the great news about blisters – they don’t require much attention because they take care of themselves. If you get a blister, know that it will drain naturally and the swelling will go down. If your blister is painful or bothering you in any way, however, you can help yourself feel more comfortable by putting a bandage or padded tape over it. Oh, and try to wear shoes that don’t rub against the blister either!

What Can I Do to Prevent Blisters?

Blisters are a mundane frustration that everyone will more than likely encounter at least once. Fortunately, following a few smart tips can help you avoid getting blisters:

  • Lessen friction by applying foot powders, creams, or even petroleum jelly to the skin.
  • Try using foot powders if your feet tend to sweat a lot. The powder will absorb excess moisture and help keep your feet dry.
  • Wear moisture-wicking socks to prevent excess moisture. Change them often to keep your feet clean and dry.
  • Buy new shoes at the end of the day when your feet are more swollen. This will help you find the right shoe size you need.
  • Always choose comfortable, properly fitting shoes that don’t have a restrictive toe box or rub against the heel.
  • If you notice a red spot developing, consider it a warning sign and cover the affected area with a bandage to help prevent a blister from forming.
  • Replace worn shoes frequently. We suggest at least every 6 months!
  • Consider using custom orthotics in your shoes.
  • Break in new shoes before wearing them for extended periods of time.

Should I See My Podiatrist for Blisters?

Typically, blisters are minor and resolve on their own. However, if they interfere with your daily activities, are very large and painful, or if you have diabetes, you should consult your podiatrist. The doctors at The Foot & Ankle Center are well-versed in handling blisters and can give you a proper diagnosis and treatment plan! From blisters to bunions and everything in between, you can count on the knowledgeable doctors at The Foot & Ankle Center to get you back on your feet again. Call us today at (314) 487-9300 or request your appointment with us online!

10 Things Your Podiatrist Wishes You Would Stop Doing

Our feet are certainly invaluable to our daily lives, yet they are often overlooked – that is, until a problem arises. The health of your feet is critical: it impacts your entire skeletal system and, ultimately, your way of life. Here are some of the most surprising everyday habits that harm your feet (and what you can do instead to keep your tootsies happy!):

You Attempt to Fix Issues Yourself

We get it – ingrown toenails are a pain (literally). It’s so tempting to try to take measures in your own hands and dig out that pesky toenail yourself. Doing so, however, can make things worse. After all, you’re not using sterile tools and don’t know the proper techniques to remedy the problem. Don’t take the chance – call your podiatrist about any issues that arise, including ingrown toenails, toenail fungus, corns, calluses, and more!

You Run in a New Pair of Shoes

Ever get a new pair of running shoes just for an upcoming race? You might feel inclined to wait until the day of the race to try out your new kicks, but doing so can give you blisters and shin splints! Take it from us – avoid pain by breaking in your new pair of shoes first.

You Regularly Wear Flats

Who doesn’t love the comfort of flip-flops, ballet flats, and flat sneakers like Converse shoes? If these are your go-to duds, you’ll want to find an alternative for your commutes and walks. They have little shock absorption and don’t provide the arch support your feet need. In time, you can develop bunions, hammertoes, Achilles tendinitis, or a collapsed arch if you wear these shoes all day, every day. Do your feet a favor and invest in a lightweight, supportive athletic shoe for your daily adventures.

You Walk Barefoot in Locker Rooms

If you really want to increase your risk of picking up athlete’s foot, warts, and fungi, then by all means, go ahead and walk around barefoot in public locker rooms. These damp communal spaces are the perfect environment for these viruses and fungi to thrive in. Take our advice, though: wear shower shoes or flip-flops at all times in these spaces to keep your feet healthy and happy!

You Walk Barefoot on Hard Surfaces

Do you have any hardwood, ceramic tile, stone, or cement flooring in your home? If so, you should consider protecting your feet. After all, there’s nothing between the floor and your feet, and in time the padding in your feet will deteriorate. The solution: don a pair of supportive, comfortable slippers whenever you shuffle into the kitchen for your morning cup of joe.

You Habitually Wear Running Shoes When You’re Not Running

There’s a reason why there are so many different types of shoes out there. Each is specifically designed to support your feet during various types of motion. Walking shoes are for walking, running shoes are for running, and basketball shoes are for – you guessed it – basketball. If you choose to run in basketball shoes, which are made for side-to-side movements instead of forward motion, you up your risk for injury. Do your research and find the appropriate footwear for the physical activities you love – your feet will appreciate it!

You Like Wearing the Same Shoes Every Day

We all have our one favorite pair of shoes – the ones that make us feel like we can completely take on the world singlehandedly. As much as you may want to keep rocking your favorite pair, remember: variety is the spice of life (and is oh, so good for your feet, to boot!). Switch it up between various pairs of supportive, comfortable shoes to avoid foot fatigue and pain. Are your shoes wearing out? Make sure you replace them about twice a year or so to keep your gait natural and as pain-free as possible!

You Stick to One Shoe Size

Here’s a fun fact: your shoe size will change with age! Often, feet grow wider and longer as the years pass, so don’t automatically assume that you’re still the same size. Make sure that you test out new shoes in-store before purchasing them whenever possible, and get your feet professionally measured every once in a while as well!

You Ignore Aches and Pains

Pain is never good. If you’re experiencing aches or ongoing pain when you walk or exercise, the worst thing you can do is sweep it under the rug. Ignored discomfort can easily worsen and develop into more worrisome conditions. If something doesn’t feel right, call up your podiatrist for a thorough examination! Remember, if you’re experiencing discomfort or notice anything out of the norm, the friendly and knowledgeable doctors at The Foot & Ankle Center are here to help! Call us today at (314) 487-9300 to schedule your appointment with us!

What are Plantar Warts and How are They Treated?

Toads, frogs, and cackling, grotesque witches in fairy tales – this is usually what comes to mind when we think of warts. Although they are usually a minor inconvenience, warts can be embarrassing – and sometimes painful. There’s nothing to be ashamed about if you have a plantar wart, and you certainly don’t have to live with it, thanks to the knowledgeable doctors at The Foot & Ankle Center!

What are Plantar Warts?

Classified as a soft tissue condition of the foot, plantar warts are hard, textured growths that typically appear on the soles, heels, or balls of the feet. While they grow outward from the skin most of the time, they can occasionally grow inward beneath a callus. Sometimes, many plantar warts will spread and form a group called mosaic warts. They are generally benign but can often become uncomfortable or painful. Children – especially teenagers – tend to be more susceptible to developing plantar warts than adults.

What Causes Them?

Contrary to popular belief, warts don’t come from handling toads or frogs. They are caused by a virus, specifically the human papillomavirus (HPV). When the virus enters the body through tiny cuts, abrasions, or sores on the bottom of your feet, it often can cause plantar warts to appear. The virus is contagious and can be contracted when you come into contact with an infected source, particularly when walking barefoot on dirty surfaces or warm, moist environments such as communal bathing facilities.

How Can I Identify Plantar Warts?

It’s actually quite easy to confuse plantar warts with other podiatric conditions such as corns and calluses! While corns and calluses will develop when your feet accrue dead layers of skin, plantar warts are the result of a viral infection and have a rough surface with a well-defined boundary. You may even notice a pinprick of black in the center of the wart, which is just a dried-up blood vessel.

How Are Plantar Warts Treated?

Treating plantar warts can be a bit tricky if you’re trying to do it on your own. Worse yet, they can be very resistant to treatment and tend to come back. We advise talking to your podiatrist for a proper diagnosis and treatment plan to tackle your plantar wart. Treatments typically include using topical medications, salicylic acid, or liquid nitrogen to dissolve the stubborn wart, cryotherapy (freezing the wart), or a simple surgical procedure performed under local anesthesia. Left untreated, the warts can grow and spread into mosaic warts.

When Should I See my Podiatrist?

It’s always wise to schedule an appointment with your podiatrist if you notice any changes in your feet, especially if you have diabetes. As we previously mentioned, plantar warts can easily be confused with corns and calluses, but your podiatrist can give you a correct diagnosis and come up with the right treatment plan!

How Can I Prevent Getting Plantar Warts?

Prevention is usually as simple as maintaining proper podiatric hygiene! Here’s how you can help increase your odds:

  • Avoid walking barefoot, especially in moist communal areas like gym showers.
  • Change your shoes and socks daily and when wet.
  • Check your feet periodically.
  • Avoid direct contact with warts from those who have them.
  • Visit your podiatrist annually as part of a well-rounded health checkup.

Warts can be embarrassing and inconvenient, but they don’t have to be. Boost your confidence and live without pain and discomfort by scheduling your appointment with The Foot & Ankle Center! Call us today at (314) 487-9300 or request your appointment online!