Toenail Fungus Got You Down? Here’s How to Treat It

Warmer weather is on the horizon, which means it’s time to ditch the boots and break out the sandals and open-toed shoes! Maybe you’re dreading the impending change in footwear because you’ve been suffering from toenail fungus. Guess what? You don’t have to be embarrassed about your feet or live with toenail fungus – there are plenty of ways to treat it! Read all about toenail fungus, what to look for, and how you can get yours treated:

What Is Toenail Fungus?

Also known as onychomycosis, toenail fungus causes thick, unsightly, discolored nails. The affected nails can often be irritating and painful, and they are also a big source of discomfort and embarrassment for patients. It isn’t unusual for many people with toenail fungus to hide their feet or paint over their toenails with nail polish. Unfortunately, without treatment the problem can get much worse – the fungus can spread to other toenails or even your fingernails and can wind up causing greater pain and discomfort, which may lead to difficulties with walking.

What Causes Toenail Fungus?

Toenail fungus’s favorite environment is someplace dark, damp, and warm – much like the inside of your shoes or socks. If you maintain this environment for a prolonged period of time or if you walk around barefoot in damp public locations like locker rooms, showers, or swimming pools, you could risk getting toenail fungus. Toenail fungus can also arise after your toenails experience some type of trauma (like stubbing your toe on furniture). The nail bed is lifted, which gives the fungus the green light to step inside and invade your nail. You may also be at a greater risk for developing toenail fungus if you suffer from pre-existing health conditions such as diabetes, immune-deficiency, and circulatory issues.

What Are the Symptoms of Toenail Fungus?

Toenail fungus can be a little tricky to spot, especially in the beginning. You’ll want to be on the lookout for the following signs:

  • Discolored or yellowing nail
  • Disfigured nails
  • Foul-smelling debris under the nail
  • Pain and discomfort
  • Streaks or spots down the side of the nail
  • Swelling around the nail
  • Thickening or crumbling of the nail
  • Total loss of the nail

If you happen to notice one or more of these symptoms, especially if your nail’s shape, color, or texture has changed, make an appointment with us right away!

How Can You Prevent Toenail Fungus?

Getting rid of toenail fungus can be challenging, so it’s wise to play defense and work on preventing it from happening in the first place! Here are our favorite pro-tips for helping you prevent toenail fungus:

  • Always wear shoes in public areas like locker rooms, pools, and showers.
  • Avoid wearing nail polish for long periods of time, which prevents the nail from breathing and can provide that dark environment fungus loves.
  • Change your gym shoes once you’ve finished working out. If possible, alternate pairs to let your footwear dry out completely.
  • Clip your toenails straight across. You can always round them with a file afterward!
  • Try not to cut your nails too short – this can cause trauma to the nail, which can lead to infection.
  • Wash your feet every day with soap and water. Dry them completely, especially before wearing socks and shoes.
  • Wear comfortable, well-fitting shoes with a roomy toe box.
  • Wear clean, moisture-wicking socks every day. Change out of them as soon as possible if your feet are wet or sweaty.
  • Use clean toenail clippers whenever you trim your nails.

How Is Toenail Fungus Treated?

Toenail fungus may be stubborn to treat, especially if it’s been around for a long time. Fortunately, there are several ways it can be treated! If you have a mild case of nail fungus, you might be able to take care of it with a few home remedies like keeping your feet clean and disinfecting your shoes on a regular basis, but it’s always best to see a podiatrist to help you get rid of the problem. Your foot doctor may remove some of the infected nail by trimming or filing it, and you may be given a prescription for oral or topical antifungal medications to treat the infection. Severe cases may involve surgical removal of the nail.

Laser treatments such as the PinPointe Laser are also available to eradicate toenail fungus! This amazing procedure tackles toenail fungus quickly and effectively without any need for medication or anesthesia. The laser is designed to focus solely on the infection and vaporize the fungus embedded deeply within your nail bed, all without affecting the healthy tissue nearby! The process is safe, virtually pain-free, requires little to no downtime, and you can get the procedure done on your lunch break – it’s that quick!

Schedule Your Appointment with The Foot & Ankle Center! Don’t let toenail fungus get you down – get it taken care of by entrusting the knowledgeable and friendly doctors at The Foot & Ankle Center! We have the expertise and the state-of-the-art equipment to help get your toenails looking and feeling back to normal. Call us today at (314) 487-9300 to schedule your appointment or request an appointment with us online!

How to Choose New Spring Workout Shoes

There’s something special about the spring season that just motivates people to get out and active again. It could be the longer days or the warmer weather, but this past year has certainly taught all of us that we need to prioritize our health. That includes the health of our feet, too! Whether you’ve constructed a home gym, your local gym is re-opening, or you’re going for runs more often, it’s time to choose a new pair of spring workout shoes. Here are a few tips for selecting the right ones:

The Makeup of Workout Shoes

Why is it so important to purchase a pair of shoes specifically for working out? Mainly to avoid a nasty injury. Imagine the damage you could do if you went for a jog in high heels or played a game of basketball in steel toe boots. Most shoes are designed with a purpose in mind – like running, basketball, and other athletic footwear. While each has their own distinctions, their general makeup is the same. This includes several parts such as:

  • Upper – The top part of shoes that connect to the midsoles below, completely surrounding the feet. Typically made from mesh to allow for proper airflow.
  • Midsole – Inner part of the sole found just below the arches of the feet. Designed to absorb the shock that results from heel strikes.
  • Outer Sole – The bottom of the outer shoe that provides traction for movement. Grips the ground with thick or thin treads that are flexible.
  • Tongue – The cushion located directly below the shoelaces. Protects the top of the foot from pressure and chafing.
  • Heel Counter – Another cushion wrapped around the heel. Reinforces the heel whenever it’s in motion.
  • Toe Box – The space in the shoe where the toes can rest securely.

Favor Function Over Fashion

Not all workout shoes have the same function, even if they appear to be comparable to the best on the market. While you may want to find the pair that fits into your favorite categories of colors and brands, some of them could be overcompensating for the element they’re lacking on – extra support. The best choices are the ones that last the longest, not the ones that get you the most attention. However, you can find a pair that’s stylish and functional if you’re willing to put in the time. You can never try enough shoes on.

Finding the Right Fit

As you’re trying on a variety of workout shoes, don’t end up settling for the pair that “fits well enough.” You know your feet best and, by this point, can probably tell whether shoes will fit even before you try them on. Don’t waste your time with the ones that don’t match the shape of your foot. You can only break shoes in so much! Speaking of which, did you know that your foot’s shape is slightly different in the morning than at night? That’s because they become a bit swollen after being walked around on all day. Evenings are the ideal time to find shoes that will never feel too tight. If you can leave half an inch of space for your toes, you should be on track for more comfortable workouts.

Injuries Caused by Improper Footwear

Here is a list of injuries that may occur due to improper footwear while working out:

  • Achilles Tendinitis
  • Ankle Sprains
  • Blisters
  • Bunions
  • Hammer Toes
  • Heel Pain
  • Plantar Fasciitis
  • Shin Splints
  • Stress Fractures
  • Turf Toe

Treat Your Feet Before Buying New Shoes If you’ve experienced pain or discomfort from any of the above conditions, then you should consider seeing a podiatrist before choosing your new workout shoes. While you may gain instant relief from buying a new pair, they cannot treat your feet like our doctors at The Foot & Ankle Center can. After requesting an appointment online, we can help you to identify the exact problem so that you can get back to your workouts pain-free.

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!