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Phone: 541-776-3338
Southern Oregon Foot & Ankle, LLC
Call Us 541-776-3338
Toll Free 844-899-6826

Southern Oregon Podiatrists Answer Your Top Questions About Foot and Ankle Pain

Stop questioning your foot and ankle pain. Start getting answers! Read our FAQ articles for tips from our Southern Oregon podiatrists to help you feel better and get healthy.

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  • Is laser treatment for fungal nails safe and effective?

    Laser treatment for fungal nails is still a fairly new advancement in medical technology. As with anything new, patients sometimes wonder if this form of treatment is safe and effective.

    fungal nailsTo start, laser therapy is completely safe. All drug products and medical equipment used in our country has to be approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). This agency is responsible for ensuring the safety of these things that can have tremendous impacts on our physical health. Laser therapy for toenail fungus is FDA-approved.

    Now, being safe and being painless aren’t exactly the same. We have good news, though – fungal nail laser treatment is also painless. You may experience a slight warming sensation, but this is rather minimal.

    With regards to effectiveness, laser treatment eradicates the fungus responsible for your discolored, unsightly nails. Before this technology was developed, there were two options for fungal toenail treatment – oral and topical medication. Laser therapy combines the best parts of both, without their respective downsides.

    Topical medication can address fungus on the surface of a nail, but cannot reach spores living underneath. Laser light safely travels through the nail to reach those hard-to-get spores. Oral medication travels through the bloodstream and can get to the spores, but it may produce undesired side effects. There are no side effects with laser therapy.

    Given that laser therapy is a safe, painless, and effective way to treat toenail fungus, there’s no need to live with the embarrassment of toenails discolored by a fungal infection. Contact Southern Oregon Foot & Ankle online today, or schedule an appointment for our Medford, OR office by calling (541) 776-3338.

  • Why are my toenails yellow and splotchy?

    There are various reasons toenails can become yellow, but the most likely explanation is a case of toenail fungus. Fungal infections in the toenails are rather common. The responsible fungi are microscopic—so you will not see them and know to avoid the tiny spores—and often reside in areas where people walk barefoot (gym locker room floors, communal showering areas, indoor pool decks).No one wants to see their toenails become yellow and splotchy!

    Beyond fungal toenails, other causes of yellow toenails include diabetes, tuberculosis, bronchiectasis, jaundice, psoriasis, and thyroid problems. In some cases, nails become yellowed simply due to natural aging processes. There is also an extremely rare genetic disorder known as “yellow nail syndrome,” which can be seen in conjunction with lymphedema.

    If your toenails are yellow due to a fungal infection or diabetes, be sure to come in and see us here at Southern Oregon Foot & Ankle. As discussed in the video above, we offer laser treatment for fungal nails that is both effective and safe. Keep in mind the fact that toenail fungus will not go away on its own. There are also special measures you need to take with regards to diabetic foot care and potential infections.

    Of course, you should request an appointment with our Medford office if you are suffering from any other foot or ankle condition as well. For more information about either foot care or our practice, or to schedule your visit, simply give us a toll-free call at (844) 899-6826 and our staff will be glad to help.

  • Can I prevent heel pain?

    Heel pain affects millions of Americans every day. Fortunately, there are an array of conservative treatment options to resolve the issues responsible for painful symptoms. Even better, there are ways to prevent heel pain from developing in the first place.

    The actual preventative measures will depend on the root source of heel pain you are looking to avoid. In the case of soft tissue injuries like plantar fasciitis and Achilles tendinitis, these techniques will include stretching on a regular basis, wearing appropriate footwear (especially if you are physically active), and warming up before activity. To prevent stress fractures in your heel bone, you should avoid performing too much high-impact activity—we recommend cross-training with low-impact activities as a great way to lower injury risk—and make sure you ease into new exercises and physical activities.

    For adolescents, a common cause of heel pain is Sever’s disease. Unfortunately, this results from a difference in growth processes between the heel and Achilles tendon, so prevention isn’t completely possible, but limiting activity can help.

    If you’d like additional information, simply give Southern Oregon Foot & Ankle a call at (541) 776-3338 or use our online form to contact us now.

  • What is arthroscopy used for?

    Arthroscopy is a surgical procedure used to perform surgical work in a minimally-invasive way to help minimize the internal tissue exposed during surgery. Other advantages to using minimally-invasive procedures include shorter recovery time, less scarring, and decreased length (if any) of hospital stays.

    In this procedure, a miniature camera is attached to surgical tools that allows your doctor to see the inside of your body—specifically, the area where the surgery is being performed—on an external monitor. This is possible with the use of fiber optics. We can use this technology to assess the severity of tissue damage and then correct or repair it.

    Depending on the nature of your injury or condition, we may use arthroscopy as part of our treatment plan. Of course, we won’t know if this will be beneficial for you or not until we see you here at our Medford, OR podiatrist office! Call Southern Oregon Foot & Ankle at (541) 776-3338 for additional information on the treatment services we provide, or to schedule an appointment with our friendly staff. You can also use our online form to contact us right now.

  • What is a cyst?

    Essentially, a cyst is a pocket of tissue filled with air, fluid, or other substances. These growths can develop virtually anywhere on your body. There are various types of cysts, but the good news is that most are benign (noncancerous). Additionally, they generally tend to be harmless and can go away on their own. That said, it is always best to have any unusual growth properly diagnosed, because treatment might be needed.

    A fairly common type of cyst that can develop on the foot is a ganglion cyst. These growths are noncancerous lumps often found along tendons or joints. They are typically round-shaped and contain a jellylike fluid similar to the lubricating fluid found around tendons and in joints. Ganglion cysts usually do not cause pain, unless they press on nerves.

    Remember, if you ever observe anything out of the ordinary in your lower limbs, it’s best to find out what it is and how it will affect you, and we are here to help. You can reach our Medford, OR office by calling (541) 776-3338, or simply take a moment to request your appointment with Southern Oregon Foot & Ankle online right now.

  • Is it okay to exercise with arthritis?

    It is not only okay to exercise with arthritis – exercises will likely be a part of your treatment plan! The right exercises can improve range of motion, increase flexibility, and strengthen muscles that support arthritic joints. Additionally, being able to shed pounds and maintain a healthy bodyweight will reduce the amount of stress and force endured by arthritic foot and ankle joints.

    Of course, it is important on understand how to use exercise to improve an arthritic condition. Knowing which exercises work best and making sure you do not attempt to do too much is important. For this reason, come in and see our professionals and we can create an exercise plan that works for you and your schedule.

    For more information on the additional components of arthritic care, or to set up a visit with Southern Oregon Foot & Ankle, simply give us a call at (541) 776-3338. You can also request an appointment for our Medford, OR office online right now.

  • Why is my foot tingling?

    It is impossible to identify why your foot is tingling without seeing you here in our Medford, OR office for a proper diagnosis, but there are several potential causes of tingling in a foot, including:

    • Neuropathy. This is simply the technical term for nerve damage. Other signs of neuropathy include burning sensations, pain, and sometimes numbness.
    • Rheumatoid arthritis. In this form of arthritis, the body’s natural defense mechanisms attack the lining found in joints. Tingling is one of the possible symptoms.
    • Fractures. A fractured bone may cause the sensation, but other symptoms include pain, swelling, and tenderness.
    • Bug bites. Along with wild animals, sometimes insect bites can cause tingling.
    • Neuromas. A neuroma is a condition wherein a nerve is being pinched or sustains chronic pressure. This often happens at the base of the third and fourth toes.

    These are some potential causes of tingling in your foot, but there are certainly others. Come see Dr. Evan Merrill and our staff here at Southern Oregon Foot & Ankle for a professional diagnosis. In addition to establishing the root cause of the problem Dr. Merrill will also provide a treatment plan for you, so contact our Medford, OR office today by calling (541) 776-3338.

  • How can hammertoes be treated?

    Hammertoe (and the related claw or mallet toe condition) is a toe deformity that develops in response to muscular imbalances in the toe. There are various potential causes of these conditions, but they are all progressive in nature, which means they will worsen over time when left untreated.

    Hammertoe treatment depends on the degree to which the affected toe is still flexible. In cases that are caught early, where the toe is flexible, treatment may be centered on a change in footwear or the use of pads or orthotic devices. Various foot exercises, like crumpling a towel or picking up marbles with your toes, may provide some benefit.

    When conservative care methods do not provide the desired results, we may recommend a surgical procedure to release a tendon responsible for preventing the toe from lying flat. Depending on the case, we may straighten the toe by removing a piece of bone.

    For additional information on hammertoes, contact Southern Oregon Foot & Ankle, L.L.C. You can give our Medford, OR office a call at (541) 776-3338 or schedule an appointment with us online today.

  • When is nerve surgery necessary?

    When a neuroma—a pinched nerve or nerve tumor—develops in your foot, it can be the source of pain and discomfort. How do you know if it is time to consider nerve surgery to address the issue?

    The answer to this depends at least somewhat on the severity of the condition. If we are able to manage the symptoms with the use of conservative care, surgery might not be necessary. A concern with a neuroma, though, is that the condition may progress and cause permanent damage over time. In such a case, we would recommend undergoing a surgical procedure to remove the affected nerve.

    If you are experiencing nerve pain or discomfort in your foot and would like to know if you are a candidate for nerve surgery, contact Southern Oregon Foot & Ankle L.L.C. and we can discuss your situation. Call us at (541) 776-3338 for additional information or schedule an appointment online today to come in and see Dr. Merrill at our Medford, OR office.

  • How are toe injuries treated?

    Naturally, the type of toe injury sustained and its severity play a major role in our treatment plan. At Southern Oregon Foot & Ankle, L.L.C., our hope is to use conservative care to treat toe injuries whenever possible.

    When the injury is in a mild-to-moderate range, nonsurgical methods that we may use to treat it include:

    • Ice – We may have you follow an icing regiment to control levels of inflammation and pain in the affected toe.

    • Medication – Over-the-counter or prescription medication might be prescribed to relieve pain and inflammation.

    • Splinting – Splinting is used to keep a fractured toe stable and in place so it can heal correctly.

    • Buddy taping – Using the same principle as splinting, a broken toe is taped to its uninjured neighbor. This acts like a natural splint.

    In cases of severe or progressive toe injuries or conditions, surgical procedures may be required.

    If you or a loved one has sustained a toe injury, contact our Medford, OR office. Give us a call at (541) 776-3338 for additional information or to have any of your questions answered by our knowledgeable staff. You can also schedule your appointment with us online today.

  • How can I avoid shin splints?

    We can certainly provide treatment when issues arise, but your best move is to take measures to prevent shin splints from developing in the first place. Fortunately, these methods are not particularly difficult and will help you avoid a lot of pain.

    Here are some of the best tips for shin splint prevention:

    • Cross-train – Incorporate low-impact activities into your workout program to help you avoid excessive wear and tear on your body’s tissues.

    • Stretch – Keep your muscles and connective tissues limber by performing stretching exercises that we can provide for you.

    • Make gradual increases – Trying to do too much on the front end does not give your body time to adjust. Start new exercise routines at an easy level and make gradual progressions with intensity and duration.

    These tips will lower your risk of developing shin splints, but if this is an issue that keeps arising, come see us here at our Medford, OR office. We will determine the root cause of the problem and provide any necessary treatment. Contact Southern Oregon Foot & Ankle, L.L.C. by calling (541) 776-3338, or schedule your appointment with us online today.

  • How do I know I have the right shoes for my feet?

    Don't focus on the number, focus on the fit.The right shoes for your feet are those that provide proper support and comfort. Don’t depend fully on a shoe size number to tell you everything. Your feet can change size over time, and a size 9 in one shoe brand might not match the same number in another. Feel is really your best indicator of a proper fit.

    Certain places to pay special attention to when fitting your shoe include the heel, toes, and arch. The heel should rest nicely against the back of the shoe without slipping. The toe box of the shoe should also be somewhat roomy, and have about a half-inch between your longest toe and the front of the shoe. Finally, the arch should be supportive, but not rise up so high that it places pressure against the foot. Above all, don’t “break in” a pair of shoes. If they don’t feel right from the get-go, they are not for you.

    For more help determining the right pairs of shoes for your feet and any special conditions you might have, contact us at Southern Oregon Foot & Ankle. You can schedule an appointment with our Medford office by calling (541) 776-3338.

  • How Can I Stay Fit as I Age?

    Staying fit as you age is an important goal toward retaining strength, maintaining stability, and avoiding troublesome conditions. As opposed to previous ideas that exercise for seniors is not fully worth it, studies have found that older people respond quite well to strength and aerobic training.

    Before starting any sort of program, it is always wisest to check with your doctor to ensure your plans are best for your individual needs. Common forms of fitness activity that tend to be recommended are low-impact activities such as jogging, swimming, cycling, or walking. These activities place a lower amount of force on the feet and ankles, helping to prevent unwanted injuries.

    Set a reasonable goal for yourself and work slowly up toward it. There’s plenty of time, and you don’t want to set yourself back with an overuse injury such as a stress fracture or Achilles tendonitis. Lifting is also effective, but once again be careful and gradually build your strength under the recommendations of a doctor.

    For help on determining the best senior foot care tips for you or a loved one, please call us at Southern Oregon Foot & Ankle: (541) 776-3338.

  • Why is dry skin dangerous with diabetes?

    Having dry skin with diabetes, especially on the feet, can be dangerous. This disease has a negative impact on the immune system, weakening it and diminishing the body’s natural ability to fight off infection. With this being the case, it is important for diabetic individuals to maintain healthy skin to reduce the risk of infection.

    One of the easiest ways for bacteria to attack is through an opening into the body, like a cut or scrape. Another entry point happens when skin becomes excessively dry and cracks. When the fissure run deep enough, they create one of those openings that microorganisms can then use to infect the area. Left untreated, such an infection could potentially result in a necessary amputation.

    If you live with diabetes, it is essential that you contribute to your foot health by taking the proper diabetic foot care steps every day. These are centered on prevention and early detection of issues, and we can help you create an effective plan to keep you safe and healthy. Contact Southern Oregon Foot & Ankle, L.L.C., today online or call our Medford, OR office at (541) 776-3338 to schedule an appointment

  • Why is my toenail turning black?

    There are various reasons why toenails turn black and discolored. Some of the more common include physical trauma or injury to the nail, fungal infection, running (or other athletic activities), and tight, ill-fitting shoes. In extremely rare cases, black toenails are the indication of malignant melanoma.

    In many cases, the black coloration is an indication of blood that has pooled between the nail and its corresponding nailbed. This may involve either the entire nail or just a part of it, and can cause tremendous discomfort due to pressure from fluid buildup. (We can safely drain the fluid and relieve the pressure.)

    Fungal infections can also lead to nail discoloration. When this is the case, you will need treatment that may include topical or oral medication or laser therapy, since the condition does not clear up on its own.

    When it comes to malignant melanoma, early detection and treatment offer the best chance for successful recovery. For this reason, it is a wise decision to make your appointment with Southern Oregon Foot & Ankle, L.L.C., when you first note discoloration. Call us at (541) 776-3338 or schedule your appointment with our Medford, OR office online.    

  • Why is it important to maintain healthy feet?

    There is nothing worse than a foot injury. Foot pain can be debilitating and frustrating. Unfortunately, we don’t give our feet the attention they deserve, which makes us prone to illness or injury. Maintaining healthy feet helps prevent injury and illness. Here are a few tips to maintaining healthy feet:

    • Exercise regularly to maintain strength in your feet.
    • Keep your feet clean! This will help you avoid foot fungus and smelly feet.
    • Take care of your nails. Trim them and keep them clean.
    • Wear clean socks.
    • Wear shoes with good support.


    Are you having trouble maintaining healthy feet? If you have a problem, we can help! Call and set up an appointment with us at Southern Oregon Foot & Ankle, L.L.C., and we will help you get the healthy feet you deserve. Call our Medford, OR office at (541) 776-3338 or use our online form to schedule an appointment today.

  • Is wearing high heels bad for my feet?

    Yes, high heels can be bad for your feet and can lead to many different foot problems. High heels can cause what’s often called a “Pump Bump,” which is a painful bump on the heel caused by the rigid shoe material rubbing up against your heel. This can cause blisters and painful swelling.

    High heels also force your feet into an unnatural position that puts stress on the balls of the feet. This causes the bones and nerves surrounding that area to become inflamed and painful. Chronic pressure can also lead to hairline fractures in the balls of your feet. You also have to be careful while wearing high heels because you are less balanced and can easily lose your footing and twist or sprain your ankle.

    Wearing high heels occasionally is not bad. However, you should limit how often you wear them. If you love heels but still want to care for your feet, try a lower heel or shoes with chunkier heels, which will help you maintain balance.

    If you are experiencing chronic foot pain, or have questions regarding your foot health, feel free to call Southern Oregon Foot & Ankle, L.L.C., and let us provide the help and answers you need. Call our Medford, OR office at (541) 776-3338 or use our online form to schedule an appointment today.

  • Are certain running shoes better for flat feet?

    Yes, there are certainly some running shoes that are better for individuals who have flat feet than others. The companies that manufacture footwear for runners have become smarter throughout the years with regard to engineering their products. Part of this means that they now offer models that can accommodate any arch style, including fallen arches.

    It is important to know what to look for when you are in the market for running shoes. If you have flat feet, you should seek out models that offer superior support, stability, and motion control.

    Finding shoes that provide motion control is good, but even better is having our experts prepare custom orthotics for you. We will measure your foot and analyze your gait to create medical inserts for your unique feet.

    Here at Southern Oregon Foot & Ankle, L.L.C., we can help you pick out appropriate footwear and provide you with custom orthotics. All you have to do is contact our Medford, OR office by calling (541) 776-3338 or using our online form to request your appointment today.

  • Can I treat flat feet?

    The answer is “yes,” but a better question is whether you actually need flat feet treatment in the first place. If you have this particular structural issue and are not experiencing any pain or difficulties as a result, then treating flat feet is unnecessary.

    In the event your fallen arches do lead to unwanted consequences, there are a variety of conservative treatment methods that may be used, including rest, stretches, icing, and medication. Physical therapy is another option that can help the condition. Orthotic devices, customized for your unique feet, can help to provide structure and redistribute the forces that come with running or walking.

    While not especially common, severe cases can be treated with surgery. There are various procedures and we will discuss them thoroughly so you can make the best possible decision.

    If your low arches are causing pain or difficulty, contact Southern Oregon Foot & Ankle, L.L.C., and let us provide the help you need. Call our Medford, OR office at (541) 776-3338 or use our online form to schedule an appointment today.

  • What is the difference between a bunion and bunionette?

    Bunions and bunionettes are related conditions that are both centered on a toe moving out of position and the resulting problems in the respective metatarsophalangeal joint (MTPJ). The key difference between the two is that a bunion happens with the big toe and a bunionette on the other side of the foot, with the little toe.

    In each case, the toe starts to bend inwards towards the other four toes. This results in the end of the toe bone that is closest to the foot jutting out to the side. In the case of a bunion, the bone juts in towards the middle of your body. For a bunionette, it juts to the outside edge of your foot. In both cases, there is a bump at the MTPJ.

    Both conditions can lead to pain and discomfort. When you experience this, contact our office and let us help you find the relief you need. Call our Medford, OR office at (541) 776-3338 or use our online form to contact us today and request an appointment.