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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Will nail fungus return after treatment?
After all the care and effort that patients put into recovering from fungal nails, one of the worst things that can happen is the recurrence of the condition. While many individuals suffer from the return of this embarrassing problem, there are many steps that you can take to avoid it.
As nail fungus is resolved by the growth of new nail tissue, keeping the area dry, clean, and treated should be a priority for 6-12 months following an initial exam. Our office also has many recommendations for socks and footwear that will aid in your recovery. These toe problems are difficult to fully eradicate and require vigilance in foot care to decrease the risk of its return.
Now that your nails are looking good again, our wonderful staff will help you keep your feet healthy. For information on nail fungus prevention, contact our Medford, OR office at 541-776-3338, or schedule an appointment with Dr. Evan Merrill online.
What does a fungal nail infection look like?
If you have a fungal nail infection, the whole nail may be affected or only a smaller area. Several nails can be affected at once or just one nail. The easiest physical signs of a fungal nail infection to spot are discoloration. The top of the nail will become noticeably more dull and lack in its natural shine. Often the nail will turn to a dark green-ish or dark yellow-ish hue. This is caused by debris and fungus building up under the nail.
If you have a nail that is infected, it may be painless at first. However, these infections can cause nails to split, break, and rise up from the nail bed, sometimes causing pain underneath it.
The nail will often become brittle, causing it to crumble or become ragged. Because of these symptoms, the natural shape of the nail can also become distorted and change.
What are my treatment options for nail fungus?
Nail fungus can be a particularly stubborn foot condition to treat. Oral medications are commonly prescribed, but they may not be appropriate for people with other serious medical concerns due to side effects. Antifungal nail creams are largely ineffective at eradicating the fungus. However, these topical creams can be prescribed alongside oral medications for competent treatment. In mild cases of nail fungus, a physician can prescribe an anti-fungal nail polish. Laser therapy has shown to be very effective in nail fungus treatment. The laser irradiates the toenail, killing off the fungus without harm to the surrounding tissues. In rare cases, surgery to remove the nail may be suggested to alleviate pain immediately.
For information on the nail fungus treatments that we provide, call our office at 541-776-3338. You can also schedule an appointment onlinewith our office in Medford, OR.
Why does nail fungus occur more in the toenails than the fingernails?
The type of fungus that causes these infections typically belongs to a group called dematophytes. This fungus thrives in dark, moist environments like locker rooms and public swimming pools. In many cases, your toenails and feet are the perfect breeding ground for these fungi due to their confinement in shoes for extended periods of time. Your shoes are dark, warm, and can also be wet from sweat- the three factors that bacteria and fungus love!
If you wear the same shoes every day, you are at an increased risk for fungal infections. By wearing the same pair, you are not allowing time for the inside of the shoes to air out. Fungus is much less likely to thrive in an environment that is dry and cool. Your fingernails, however, are not usually confined to dark, warm places for long periods of time, and are washed regularly.
How do I make my toenails stronger and healthier?
Healthy toenails are important for protecting the ends of your digits, so taking care of them is worth the investment. Make sure you keep them clean and well-trimmed. Wash them carefully when you scrub your feet every day, and clip the nails straight across so they are less likely to become ingrown. If you file the nail as well, don’t use a sawing or back-and-forth motion. Instead, file from the outside edges toward the center. When you moisturize your feet, rub some lotion or ointment on top of the nails, too. Don’t cut your cuticles at all—that can open your body to infection. Instead, gently push them back from the nail with a cuticle pusher.
If you’re concerned about the strength of your nails, or notice thickening, discoloration, curling, or other unusual distortions, don’t ignore it. Instead, contact the experts at Southern Oregon Foot & Ankle, L.L.C. for more information or an appointment to check for infections or other problems. Visit the online contact page or call (541) 776-3338 to reach our Medford office./contact.cfm
What is the proper way to trim my toenails?
Cutting the toenails regularly can go a long ways toward the prevention of conditions like ingrown and pincer toenails. It may be easier to cut the nail immediately after bathing, as it will be softer and more pliable. When trimming the nail make sure to cut straight across; a curved edge will promote lateral growth of the nail and will often cause the nail to grow into the surrounding areas of skin. If you find a problem like a hangnail or ingrown toenail, it is best to let our professional staff solve that problem for you. Improper treatment of nail conditions can develop into more serious complications with the onset of infections.
If you notice any changes in the condition of your nails, call our Medford office at (541) 776-3338. Don’t delay, as nail conditions only worsen with time. Dr. Evan Merrill has extensive training in the treatment of these toe problems.
How are stress fractures different from normal fractures?
Fractures generally refer to a break in the bone or surrounding cartilage. A stress fracture, on the other hand, is the result of a more specific process in which increased repetitive force is applied to the bones of the feet or ankle. As the damage continues, the bones will begin to reabsorb bone cells quicker than they can be produced. Eventually the bones will fatigue over time and will create micro-fissures. It is when these cracks grow that stress fractures are finally present. Many patients will experience this slowly-developing condition as they increase the intensity of their physical activities. Athletes should be sure to use proper gear during their activities to reduce stress on all of their weight-bearing bones.
As more than 50% of these types of fractures occur in the lower limbs, patients should take special care to monitor the condition of their foot and ankle bones by contacting our Medford office at 541-776-3338. Individuals can also schedule appointments online with Dr. Evan Merrill.
How do I treat my ingrown toenail?
It is important NOT to try to treat an ingrown toenail by yourself! This condition, although not life-threatening, is still something that will need professional medical attention. If you notice the start of what looks like an ingrown toenail, make sure to re-think your footwear. Shoes that are too tight will only cause more trouble and pain. To relieve some of the discomfort, your doctor may tell you to use ibuprofen.
When an ingrown toenail causes pain, a procedure may be necessary in order to remove part or all of the nail. For severe cases, it may be necessary to eliminate some of the underlying skin from the nail bed. This will prevent the nail from returning and becoming ingrown again.
Dr. Evan Merrill will assess your situation and advise you on the best possible course of action for the treatment of your ingrown toenail. Don’t wait until the pain is unbearable! Make an appointment today.
Can I prevent an ingrown toenail?
Though not all ingrown toenails can be avoided, there are a few preventative measures you can take. One way to prevent an ingrown toenail is by practicing good hygiene. This includes trimming your toenails straight across and leaving them the length of your toe. Nails that are ripped off, instead of cut, are also prone to burrowing and growing inward. Poorly fitting shoes can add to the problem. A good rule of thumb is "if the shoe doesn't fit, don't wear it." Sometimes, simply performing the same activity repeatedly, such as kicking a soccer ball, can lead to an ingrown toenail. If you notice pain in your toes, stop the activity.
Ingrown toenails can develop rather quickly. It is a condition that can lead to permanent changes in the tissue of your toes. Overgrowth may cause infection, pain, and swelling. Those with diabetes and vascular problems need to be aggressive in treating and preventing ingrown toenails. If you'd like to learn more about treating your toes, contact Southern Oregon Foot & Ankle, L.L.C. in Medford, OR. We can be reached at (541) 776-3338 or through our online contact form.
What are some ingrown toenail causes?
Your toe is throbbing. Perhaps it's red and swollen near the edges. It could even be oozing a white liquid. Ingrown toenails are to blame for this irritation. They can develop rather quickly, even from routine activities.
The most common ingrown toenail causes include: wearing shoes that crowd your toenails, cutting your toenails too short and rounded on the edges, injuring your toenail by stubbing or dropping something on it, and having unusually curved toenails. If you want to avoid the problem, be sure to wear shoes that leave room for your toes, cut your nails straight across, and wear protective footwear when handling heavy objects.
Damage to your toes and toenails can affect your entire foot. If your toenail has become ingrown, contact Southern Oregon Foot & Ankle, L.L.C. in Medford, OR, today! Overgrowth may cause uncomfortable swelling, pain, and infection. Give us a call at (541) 776-3338 or contact us online. We'll help you find the relief you need!
What is an ingrown toenail?
An ingrown toenail is a common condition in which the side of one of the toenails has grown or is growing into the skin that surrounds the nail. As you can imagine, this causes pain in the affected toe (most commonly the big toe). The pain is often intensified by putting your feet into shoes, especially ones that are too tight.
The reason that many ingrown toenails are formed links back to footwear and toenail hygiene! When toenails are trimmed too short, they often begin to grow sideways into the skin. Shoes and socks that are too tight cause nails to become curved. This can lead to this toenail malady as well.
If not treated properly, ingrown toenails can cause infections. For those that have diabetes, this is a serious matter that will need to be taken care of immediately. Dr. Evan Merrill is a trained and board-certified podiatrist, and can take care of your ingrown toenails today!
How are orthotics made?
Orthotics are devices that slip inside your shoes for added comfort and support. Custom-made, these inserts can also correct alignment problems, foot abnormalities, biomechanical issues, and other foot conditions that may be causing you pain and discomfort. How can something small enough to fit in your shoe do all that? It’s all in the design. First your foot is examined to determine areas in which additional padding and stabilization are needed. Your foot is then measured and a mold is taken. A custom-made orthotic is then created to fit to your specific foot. Depending on your unique needs, materials used may be rigid, soft, or somewhere in between.
If you are experiencing foot pain, custom inserts may be just the thing. Ask Dr. Evan Merrill if orthotics are right for you. Call (541) 776-3338 for an appointment or visit us at Southern Oregon Foot and Ankle, L.L.C. in Meford, OR. Start looking forward to pain-free days today!
What are the bones in my feet called?
Knowing about the different kinds of bones in the foot and how they interact to achieve motion is critical for recovering patients to understand what they’re going through. About one in four bones in the human body is located in the feet; each foot contains 26 of them. They are grouped into three different areas called the forefoot, midfoot, and hindfoot. The forefoot is composed of the phalanges and metatarsals. They form the toes and aid in foot propulsion when walking and jumping. It is the midfoot that forms the arch of the foot with numerous tarsal bones. The hindfoot is comprised of a number of unique bones that form the heel; talus and calcaneus are able to support the body’s weight. In addition to this complex array of structures, the body utilizes a system of tendons, muscles, and ligaments for biomechanical processes. The feet also contain sesamoids which act as a “pulley system” for these tissues.
For any concerns related to the structures of the feet or ankles, contact our Medford office at 541.776.3338 and Dr. Evan Merrill will be happy to answer your questions.
Do I need surgery to correct my flat feet?
Surgery for flat feet is rarely needed. Many people with low arches do not have any discomfort, and those who do can usually be treated using conservative measures. Prescription orthotics, taping, shoe changes, and physical therapy have all been successful in helping to relieve arch pain. Only feet that are especially flat and not responding to non-invasive treatment are remedied surgically.
If you’re struggling with flatfoot pain, have the condition evaluated by a specialist like Dr. Evan Merrill. He will examine your low arches and determine the best way to relieve your discomfort. If conservative remedies are not working, the doctor may recommend a procedure to rebuild your arch or repair damaged tissues. Don’t wait until surgery is your only option, however. Contact Southern Oregon Foot & Ankle, L.L.C. for an appointment. Or if you'd like more information, you can visit our website contact page or call our Medford office at (541) 776-3338.
Can I run with flat feet?
Yes, you can run with flat feet, though you are at higher risk for injuries than someone with a normal arch. Take precautions--low or fallen arches are not as strong as regular ones, and they allow your foot to over-pronate, or roll inward too far, when you run. This can lead to shin splits, ankle injuries, arch pain, and other problems if you’re not careful.
To avoid injuries, you should wear shoes that offer sufficient arch support with firm midsoles. If footwear is not enough, orthotics can provide that extra bracing you need. Stretches and exercises to build up the muscles that support the arch can help increase your natural stability. Run on flat ground, since uneven surfaces can exacerbate over-pronation.
If you’re concerned about your low arches, or are already experiencing pain, don’t wait until it hurts too much to run—contact Southern Oregon Foot & Ankle, L.L.C. for an appointment or more information. Visit the online contact page, or call (541) 776-3338.
Are flat feet painful?
Most cases of flat feet occur without complications or symptoms. Patients may even go their entire lifespan without ever realizing they have this condition. However, some people may develop pain in the arches or heels as improper distribution of forces during activity can increase pressure on these areas. Individuals can often experience swelling in the feet from this condition. The associated discomfort that comes with this breakdown in biomechanics can be further exaggerated by aging, arthritis, obesity, or injury to the foot. To treat the aches and pains of flat feet, our office may recommend treatments like the use of orthotics or special shoes and proper stretching techniques.
While most instances of this condition are pain-free, flat feet can often develop into more serious conditions over time. In order to determine the best treatment and prevention methods for your unique case, contact our Medford office at 541-776-3338 or schedule an appointment with Evan Merrill DPM online.
What is a stone bruise?
The phrase “stone bruise” is sometimes used as a catch-all to describe specific, localized, acute pain on the bottom of the foot—it may feel as if you’ve stomped on a stone or sharp object. The underlying cause may in fact be that you landed on such an object. A forceful, blunt trauma, perhaps from running on hard or uneven surfaces, may bruise the bone or soft tissue structures and can make putting any weight on your foot very painful and difficult.
Other potential explanations might include metatarsalgia (if the ball of your foot hurts) or plantar fasciitis (if the pain is in your heel and feels worse in the morning when you take those first few steps).
If you feel pain in the bottom of your foot that feels like a deep stone bruise, rest and ice the affected area, then call Southern Oregon Foot & Ankle for an evaluation. We will evaluate your condition and, if necessary, work with you to develop a treatment and recovery plan right for your situation. Call us in Medford, OR at (541) 776-3338
Why do my feet smell?
Most foot odor has a simple recipe: sweat and bacteria. Our feet and shoes just happen to provide superb conditions for both of these ingredients.
Feet produce more sweat than any other part of the body. The sweat they produce, though, doesn’t have much odor in itself. When bacteria feed off this sweat, it produces the chemicals we attribute to smelly feet. Different bacteria will produce different byproducts and create different aromas.
Bacteria thrive in warm, moist environments. When we put our feet in shoes and socks, we’re helping to maintain those conditions. If our shoes remain damp, either through excessive sweating or not providing time for them to dry, the bacteria will thrive and the smelly cycle will live on.
If your feet excessively sweat or the ways you’ve tried to reduce your odor don’t help, Dr. Evan Merrill and the staff at Southern Oregon Foot & Ankle, L.L.C. can help. Arrange an appointment by calling (541) 776-3338
What does R.I.C.E. stand for?
Staying physically active is very important—for weight management, cardiovascular fitness, and many other health benefits. There is a risk of injury though, particularly in a sport such as running. Taking training too far, too quickly, wearing a poor-fitting pair of shoes, or landing on an uneven surface can lead to a number of foot or ankle injuries. The term R.I.C.E. is an acronym used to describe the treatment you should take immediately after an injury. With an ankle sprain for example you would start with “R” which stands for rest—taking weight off your foot to remove pressure and further strain. Second, “I” stands for icing your ankle to alleviate pain and swelling. Third, the “C” stands for compression, which means wearing a bandage or compression sock to also help with inflammation. Last, the “E” is for elevation—keeping your ankle elevated above your heart will also help reduce swelling and pain.
If you have a foot or ankle injury or require further information about foot care, contact Dr. Evan Merrill at Southern Oregon Foot & Ankle. You can reach our Medford, OR office by calling (541) 776-3338 or you can request an appointment online.
What causes high arches?
When the feet have high arches, it is sometimes referred to as cavus foot. Contrary to flat feet, this arch condition is much less common. If you notice signs of having a high arch, check your family. Does anyone else have high arches? This condition is usually dependent on the mechanics of your feet and heredity. However, abnormally high arches can also be a symptom of a very serious underlying cause. Many neurological disorders cause cavus foot, including Polio, Muscular Dystrophy, and Cerebral Palsy.
Cavus foot may or may not be painful. If pain is present, it will be important to make an appointment with a podiatrist quickly to get the condition checked. Tell your doctor all of your symptoms, in order to get an accurate diagnosis and find the true underlying cause of the high arch. Talk to Dr. Evan Merrill to learn about treatment options for cavus foot.