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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Can I treat high arches without having surgery?
The short answer- yes. There are several options for the treatment of cavus foot. Dr. Evan Merrill will discuss treatments like orthotics, braces, and modifications to your shoes with you before resorting to surgery. Many times, these techniques and devices are used in order to help stabilize and cushion the feet.
Your podiatrist will first want to evaluate your pain and look at the severity of the condition. Sometimes, arches that are high do not cause pain. However, when pain is severe and persistent, you can be sure that Dr. Merrill will do everything he can to reduce the discomfort.
Orthotics and braces will help straighten the foot and ankle, as well as support the muscles that aren’t strong enough to stabilize the foot themselves. This may be sufficient to reduce pain and help prevent the condition from getting worse. Make an appointment with Dr. Evan Merrill today to discuss your specific condition.
What are the most common causes of heel pain?
Pain in your heel is most commonly attributed to plantar fasciitis--inflammation of the plantar fascia along the bottom of the foot. This condition can be caused by repetitive stress on the feet from sports, from standing for long periods of time, or from obesity. However, there are also several other conditions that can lead to pain in the heel.
Achilles tendinitis can cause heel pain along with pain in the back of the legs. The stress on the Achilles tendon often causes it to pull on the heel where it attaches to the bone. This condition is most commonly attributed to a sudden increase of activity such as lengthening the duration of your exercise routine.
Another reason for heel pain is the presence of a heel spur. This is a bony growth of calcium located under the heel bone (also known as the calcaneus). This condition often accompanies plantar fasciitis.
If your heel pain is severe, and has lasted for an extensive period of time, it may be due to a stress fracture in the heel. Bone breaks require a great amount of rest and time to heal before normal use of the foot can resume.
Do I need surgery for heel pain?
Heel pain is the most common condition affecting the feet and rarely requires surgery. Most soreness in the heel will usually improve with rest and the proper conservative treatments. These methods may include medications, the use of orthotics, and physical therapy. If all non-surgical options fail, however, and pain persists for a more than 12 months, then a surgical procedure may be considered.
Surgical options will depend on the source of the problem. In the case of plantar fasciitis, the calf may be surgically lengthened to decrease stress on the plantar fascia. The plantar fascia itself may also be partially or fully cut to relieve tension.
Most patients recover well from heel surgery. Some procedures come with slight risks of nerve damage or incomplete pain relief, which is why they often serve only as a last resort.
If you suffer from pain in one or both heels, let Dr. Evan Merrill and the staff of Southern Oregon Foot & Ankle, L.L.C. help you determine your full range of options for finding relief. Call our office at (541) 776-3338 or use our online form to arrange an appointment.
Why do I have pain in my heels when I wake up in the morning?
Morning heel pain is the most common symptom of plantar fasciitis. This is a condition that affects the tendon that runs along the bottom of the foot-- the plantar fascia. Repetitive pounding of the feet from running and jumping on hard surfaces causes irritation and stress on the soles of the feet. When this tissue is overstretched, very tiny tears form. The result is inflammation and pain in the bottom of the heel, and sometimes in the arch of the foot.
Pain from plantar fasciitis has been reported as most severe in the morning, or after long periods of rest. Pain will subside as the day progresses since walking tends to gently warm up and stretch the plantar fascia calming the inflammation. Stretching is the best way to reduce the initially harsh pain that is typical in the morning.
How do I prevent cancer in my feet?
As with any medical condition, protection of the bones and tissues involved is crucial to the prevention of problems. Since most cancers that affect the feet are caused by overexposure to sunlight, patients should utilize sunblock whenever their feet are exposed to UV rays. Viruses, chemicals, and chronic ulcers can also lead to cancer formation and can be avoided by wearing proper socks and footwear during any job or activity in which an individual is exposed to these factors. By using appropriate protection in all aspects of life, the risk of acquiring cancer can be largely reduced.
As cancerous tissue looks different in the feet than in any other part of the body, professional help should be sought as soon as a problem is detected so the condition can be treated before it begins to spread. Contact or Medford office at 541-776-3338 for any concerns you may have for your foot health. Appointments can also be scheduled with Dr. Evan Merrill online.
Is clubfoot treatable?
Clubfoot is treatable, especially if addressed right away. It’s a deformity of the foot present at birth, curving the feet down and inward. It needs to be treated immediately, while the foot structures are still very flexible, for the child to be able to walk properly when they are older. Both surgical and nonsurgical options are available. Conservative treatments include casting, bracing, stretches, and exercises. Surgery may be needed if the feet are stiff or not responding to noninvasive measures. Procedures can be done to lengthen tendons, reset joints, and pin bones in place.
When clubfoot is addressed shortly after birth, it has a greater chance of responding to conservative remedies. If your child has a foot deformity, don’t put off treatment and allow their body to grow incorrectly. Problems are much harder to address the longer you wait. Contact Southern Oregon Foot & Ankle, L.L.C. for an appointment or more information and take care of your baby’s feet. Call (541) 776-3338 or request more information on our website.
What is a congenital foot disorder?
The term “congenital” refers to diseases and deformities present at the time of birth. Clubfoot, tarsal coalition, and Charcot disease are just a few examples of these types of problems. Many of these disorders can be detected even before birth with the use of diagnostic procedures like ultrasound. Such imaging technologies give our doctors insight to the extent of the damage and allow us to prepare the best treatment possible. These bone deformations vary greatly in their symptoms, and individuals may feel very little or a great deal of pain. Nearly all congenital deformities will become worse with time as the bones mature and these conditions become more rigid or even permanent.
Many congenital disorders can be successfully treated with proper medical care, but they need to be diagnosed and attended to as early as possible. Contact our Medford office at (541) 776-3338 and benefit from our experience in these foot problems. Appointments can also be scheduled online with Dr. Evan Merrill.
What should I look for in shoes when I have a bunion?
Shoe shopping can be one of the most difficult aspects of dealing with a bunion. Improper footwear can crowd the toes inflicting pain, and rough fabrics or seams can irritate the skin. Luckily, we have some tips to make the experience a little easier. Stay away from shoes with pointed toes and high heels. Large toe boxes and shorter heels will benefit you the most.
While flip-flops may seem like a great idea, since they allow the toes the freedom of space, the straps often irritate the bunion. Bunion pads and sleeves can help to alleviate this problem with certain sandals. Brooks, New Balance, and Saucony manufacture running shoes with a comfortable amount of space for toes. When purchasing a shoe, buy a pair half a size larger than you need to reduce pressure. For any further questions on correct footwear for your bunion condition, please feel free to schedule an appointment online or call our office at 541-776-3338
How long does it take to recover from bunion surgery?
Like any surgery, the length of the recovery period depends on the severity of the condition and the way the surgery was performed. A significant bunion that needs a more complicated surgery takes longer to heal than a smaller and simpler one. Generally recovery takes anywhere from six weeks to a several months, though it could possibly be longer if the correction you needed was extensive or if complications arise.
After the surgery, you will need to both rest your foot and keep your incision site clean and clear to prevent infection and encourage healing. Dr. Evan Merrill will let you know when you are able to put weight on your foot again. Though you will need some time off from work after the surgery, how long depends on the demands of your job. If you have a painful bunion that isn’t being relieved by conservative treatments, surgery might be your best option. Don’t wait and let the pain disrupt your life. Contact Southern Oregon Foot & Ankle, L.L.C. in Medford for an appointment or more information by visiting our contact page or by calling (541) 776-3338.
Do I have to have surgery to fix my bunion?
No. Surgery is not always necessary for bunion correction. It is important to find out the underlying cause of a bunion in order to decide which treatment will work best to relieve pain.
If tight shoes and narrow toe boxes are the root cause of your bunion, choosing proper footwear with more room for the toes is highly recommended. If you have a bunion, consider replacing high heels with shoes that have better support and don’t put as much pressure on the ball of the foot. Custom orthotics can be prescribed by a foot specialist in order to support weak foot structures and reduce the likelihood that a bunion will become severe.
Stretching the feet is a great way to help relieve the tightness of joints and the pressure of a bunion. Small, easy exercises will strengthen the tissues in the feet and reduce tension.
In severe cases, however, surgery may be the only option to reduce pain and correct the deformity. This type of procedure is called a bunionectomy, and is performed to remove the growth on the side of the toe and realign the bone to its natural position.
How did I get a bunion?
The most common causes of bunions are improper footwear and structural weakness. Both of these are factors that may cause the foot to unevenly bear the body’s weight and cause an imbalance.
Women tend to be victims of bunions more often than men due to their choice in shoes. Women that wear high heels are more likely to develop a bunion because of the extra pressure and stress that the shoes place on the front of the foot. Combine pressure and tight, closed toe boxes that force the front of the feet and toes into an unnatural position and you have a recipe for a bunion.
Bunions tend to run in families and may be inherited along with structural weakness in the foot. Other causes include diseases like arthritis that may cause the cartilage in the big toe to deteriorate and allow the joint to slip out of its natural position.
What are diabetic ulcers?
Diabetics often have decreased sensation in their feet due to the development of neuropathy and a reduced capacity for healing wounds. These two factors explain why ulcers in the feet are the leading cause of hospital visits for those with diabetes. An ulcer is an open wound that is caused by a break in the skin that doesn’t heal. The effects of diabetes can be further compounded by excessive pressure to the feet. Patients often find that these sores develop and fail to heal with the constant pressures that come with improper footwear. This foot condition is commonly denoted by inflammation of the afflicted area, a gradual increase in pain, and in some cases, pus and a bad odor.
Without proper treatment, diabetic ulcers can develop into more severe conditions and have been the precursors to many amputation cases. To get ahead of the pain and learn what you can do for your health, schedule an appointment online with Dr. Evan Merrill, or call our Medford, OR office at 541.776.3338.
Why is foot care so important if you have diabetes?
The goal of diabetic foot care is to prevent serious problems by catching them in the early stages, when they can still be treated effectively. Complications of diabetes include neuropathy (nerve damage) and poor circulation. These conditions make it harder to detect a blister or cut and slow down its healing time. That increases your risk of developing ulcers, infection, and possible amputations.
Take the time to keep your feet clean, dry, and moisturized; inspect them every day for any small injuries or other symptoms; and wear socks and shoes to prevent contact with anything that can damage them. This is so important, because keeping your feet healthy helps you stay active, which is an important way of managing diabetes. For excellent treatment of your foot problems and more tips on practicing good foot care at home, call Southern Oregon Foot & Ankle, L.L.C. in Medford at (541) 776-3338 and set up an appointment with Dr. Evan Merrill. We want to help you keep your feet fit!
How does diabetes cause nerve damage?
Diabetic neuropathy can occur as the result of an accumulation of diabetic effects. Excessive levels of blood sugar, or glucose, increase the rate of damage to the tender nerve fibers. As blood glucose levels rise, the nerves often lose the ability to transmit signals back to the brain. High blood sugar also diminishes the strength of the capillary walls which reduces the ability of the body to supply oxygen and nutrients to heal the damaged areas.
Without the ability to heal, the nerves are unable to transmit sensory information to the brain. This can become especially dangerous as many patients with diabetic neuropathy develop wounds that go unchecked due to loss of feeling.
You are an invaluable part of your diabetic care team, but you’re not alone. Dr. Evan Merrill and his expert staff will monitor your foot health and help you keep your feet in great shape. Call our office at 541-776-3338, orschedule an appointment online.
How can I prevent diabetic foot complications?
The best way to prevent complications from diabetes is by managing the disease. It is important to keep control of your nutrition and to exercise regularly in order to keep glucose levels within a healthy range and prevent neuropathy. Due to nerve damage, it is important to check your feet daily. Look for cuts, scratches, or any unusual discoloration. Finding problems early will help to prevent infection. Carefully wash and keep your feet clean daily as well, in order to prevent the risk of fungal or bacterial infections.
Wear shoes that fit and are comfortable. Proper shoes will protect your feet from unnecessary cuts and scratches and help to support them. It is essential to provide the attention necessary for any type of wound on your feet before they risk becoming infected.
Keep your feet moving and keep your blood flowing. When sitting for long periods of time, take breaks to stand up and walk around. When relaxing, keep your feet up and wriggle your toes.
The most important thing you can do for your foot health when you have diabetes is to make regular appointments with a podiatrist! Check-ups will help to catch early warning signs for diseases like Charcot foot, and a foot specialist like Dr. Evan Merrill can provide helpful tips and advice for better care.
What complications of diabetes affect my feet?
The most common diabetic foot problem is called neuropathy. This describes nerve damage in the feet caused high levels of glucose in the blood. This nerve damage causes loss of sensation in the feet, preventing feelings of hot, cold, or pain.
Another common complication is peripheral vascular disease, which affects the circulation and blood flow to the feet. Lack of proper blood flow slows down the healing of any sores and cuts. This can lead to a higher risk for skin and nail complications such as athlete’s foot, ingrown toenails, and ulcers.
When nerve damage and poor circulation are present, it is extremely difficult for wounds to heal and increases the risk for infection. In order to prevent infections from spreading, sometimes amputation is necessary. Diabetes is the most common cause of leg amputation (not resulting from injury). In order to prevent amputation, it is imperative that diabetes is managed correctly and symptoms are watched daily.
What is the best way to start running?
You need to begin any new activity slowly. Running is great exercise, but your body—especially your feet—needs to be conditioned for it. Walk first. Increase the intensity and duration of your routine over time. Then add a few seconds of running interspersed throughout your walk. As this becomes easier, increase those seconds to several minutes of running with walking in between. When this is comfortable, gradually decrease the amount of time you spend walking. Eventually you should run consistently.
Remember to listen to your body’s signals. Warm up and cool down with dynamic stretches at the beginning and end of your routine. If you are too sore at the end of your exercise, your run was too long. If you develop pain while exercising, go back to more walking. Don’t ignore persistent pain. Contact Southern Oregon Foot & Ankle, L.L.C. to check for injuries or help with your running form. Fill out the online contact page or call us at (541) 776-3338 to reach our Medford office.
How do I prevent foot cramps?
Lower limb cramping is painful and unpleasant, but you can do a few things to help prevent foot cramps when you’re active. Warm up before you run or play sports, but don’t stretch out your feet until you’re done. Make sure you drink plenty of water both before and during your activities. Run or move around at a decreased pace for the first few minutes of your sport so that your muscles have a chance to get moving properly. When you’re finished, do a five minute cool down and drink electrolyte-filled fluids. Make sure you’re wearing properly supportive footwear, too—bad shoes stress your muscles and can contribute to cramping. Also, eat foods that have plenty of potassium and calcium, like bananas, yogurt, cheese, and fresh veggies. If you struggle with frequent or persistent cramping, you might have an underlying issue that’s affecting your muscles. Seek help from the experts at Southern Oregon Foot & Ankle, L.L.C. in Medford to relieve your discomfort. Call (541) 776-3338 or visit our website contact page to reach us.
How do I strengthen my feet?
Maintaining foot health means more than just keeping your feet clean. Exercising the feet can help strengthen the structure of the foot and aid in the prevention and correction of foot conditions. A strong foot will provide more stability and decrease the likelihood of injury.
Walking is the best form of exercise for strengthening the feet as it utilizes all of the parts in the feet evenly, and provides cardiovascular benefit. To strengthen your feet there are a few specific exercises you can do. Walking barefoot in sand will force the constant redistribution of weight across the foot and is a quick way to build muscle tone. Many exercises will focus on the muscles in the toes. Spreading the toes as wide as possible and holding them there can help to strengthen the feet. Walking on your toes for a few minutes a day can go a long way towards increasing foot and ankle stability. These regimens can be done while standing or sitting at your desk.
Repeated impact to the feet can cause problems. The best way to avoid damage while improving muscle strength is through short daily exercises. With such minor changes to your daily routine, you will soon see great results in foot health. For information on the specific actions and exercises that help your unique feet, contact our office at 541-776-3338, or schedule an appointment online with Dr. Evan Merrill.
What are the best low-impact exercises for foot injuries?
After foot injuries, you need to take the time to rebuild your strength and stability. Low-impact exercises allow you to do this without trauma that could reinjure your lower limbs. Swimming, water aerobics, bicycling, and yoga still work your foot muscles, but don’t require hard pounding on your joints. Their aerobic qualities are also excellent for your cardiopulmonary health, which can improve your circulation. Better circulation encourages healing, which is important following any injury.
Certain physical therapy movements can also function as low-impact exercises for your feet. Toe spreads, calf raises, ankle rotations, and heel/toe walking all work the small stabilizers in the feet. Picking up objects with just the toes, wall stretches, and plantar stretches also benefit those tissues. If you need more information about recovering after foot injuries, or are still in pain, seek help from the experts here at Southern Oregon Foot & Ankle, L.L.C. in Medford, OR. We can help you establish a foot-safe exercise program and restore your feet. Call (541) 776-3338 or fill out the website contact form to reach us.