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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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 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.
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.
Can the food I eat prevent injuries?
If you’re concerned about a foot injury, nutrition can definitely play a role in preventing one. Good nutrition is vital for bone, muscle, and connective tissue health. You need dense bones to support your body and the pressure of your activities. Your muscles need to be healthy enough to maintain your mobility and stabilize your motion. Connective tissues need to be tough and elastic enough to stabilize the right kind of movement through your feet. Eating well provides your body with the nutrients it needs to keep these tissues strong enough to avoid injuries.
This is especially true for your bones. The right foods can help you combat osteoporosis, a condition that could cause serious and repeated fractures. Products with sufficient calcium, vitamin D, protein, and other miscellaneous nutrients allow you to build dense bones, so you should consume dairy, fish, lean meats, and plenty of fruits and vegetables. If you’re concerned about the impact nutrition has on your lower limbs, or are struggling with an injury or osteoporosis, contact Southern Oregon Foot & Ankle, L.L.C. in Medford, OR. Fill out the online contact form or call (541) 776-3338 to reach us for an appointment or more information.
How do I treat an ankle sprain?
Every ankle sprain is different. Dr. Merrill will evaluate your injury and prescribe the best treatment specific to your case. X-rays are often taken when the issue is bone related, or when children present signs of a sprain. Children have sensitive growth plates in the bones that need to be carefully monitored when injured. Bone scans, CT scans, and MRIs are often used to acquire more accurate representations of specific tissues and blood flow.
Immediately following a sprain, there are a few things you can do at home. You should keep all weight off of the sprained ankle, and brace it if you have one available. Bracing can also be achieved by taping up the ankle, or by wearing high top shoes or hiking boots for short-term care. Ice the injury immediately; this greatly helps to reduce swelling and any possible bleeding. If the skin turns white you should stop icing immediately as you may have a cold injury. If you have been diagnosed with a vascular disease, diabetes, or nerve issues, please speak to Dr. Merrill before applying ice as it could cause further complications. Get gravity on your side by elevating the ankle to help reduce swelling. Physical therapy is sometimes needed for flexibility, stability, and strength training of the ankle. In rare cases, surgery may be necessary to repair the ligaments of the ankle.
Dr. Evan Merrill is "The Running Expert." As an avid runner himself, Dr. Merrill gives advice for fellow runners on how to keep their feet happy and healthy. To read more about Dr. Merrill, visit his blog Dr. Merrill on the Run or visit Our Staff page.
How do I avoid ankle sprains?
There are certain things that you can do to decrease the likelihood of spraining your ankle. You should always warm up before exercise or rigorous activity. This allows for the muscles to be stretched. Take special care to avoid uneven surfaces. Improper footwear, such as high-heeled shoes, also increase the risk of an ankle sprain. Just like terrain that is not smooth, wearing heels impacts balance and makes missteps more likely. Training that focuses on stability and balance is helpful in the prevention of these injuries. Participating in nearly any sport increases the risk of sprains.
Prior sprains and ankle injuries are risk factors of future injury. Think of a rubber band; once you have stretched one out over a long period of time, it loses tension and can never be as tight as it once was. Ligaments are similar in this aspect. Does ankle pain have you missing out on your favorite activities? Call the office of Dr. Evan Merrill to make an appointment today! Call or schedule on-line.
What are the symptoms of an ankle sprain?
Pain is typically the first symptom after an ankle sprain has occurred. Swelling, bruising, and a limited range of motion in the foot are also common. If you hear a clicking or popping noise in the ankle, this can be indicative of more serious complications and you should contact Dr. Evan Merrill as soon as possible. Broken bones are not always obvious to the patient.
Ankle sprains tend to vary in intensity. If weight bearing on the foot is limits your activity, you should contact Dr. Merrill today. The level of pain that comes with the sprain is closely associated with the amount of time it will take to heal. It’s essential for you to understand that the more intense the injury you’ve obtained, the longer and more involved the healing process will be. This process can be greatly accelerated by scheduling an appointment today.
What are the different degrees of ankle sprains?
An ankle sprain occurs as the tissues contained within the ankle are extended, stretched or twisted beyond their normal limits. When this occurs the ligaments that connect to the ankle bones can become severely damaged. However, the extent of damage within this fibrous tissue often dictates the treatment methods necessary for each case.
Levels of Damage:
- First Degree – Sprains to the ankle at this level are quite mild. They involve tenderness of the ankle and some swelling; bruising is uncommon. Treatment typically involves resting, ice, and elevation of the joint. These injuries will heal in four to six weeks.
- Second Degree – More moderate pain and swelling occurs with this degree of sprain. Bruising often occurs within days of the injury and the joint may be abnormally loose. Treatments utilize short term splinting, physical therapy and the R.I.C.E. method.
- Third Degree – These are the most severe form of sprain and result in the complete tearing of the ligaments. The joint will be very unstable and weight-bearing is extremely difficult. To alleviate painful symptoms and allow for healing, bracing or casting is often necessary. Many patients will require physical therapy or even surgical reconstruction of the ankle.
The differences between these degrees of damage are often very subtle and require a professional diagnosis. To receive the best treatment possible, call our Medford office at 541.776.3338 or schedule an appointment online with Evan Merrill DPM.
What causes an ankle sprain?
A sprained ankle is usually caused by trauma to the foot. This often involves the rolling, twisting or turning of the ankle in an unnatural way. Running or walking on an uneven surface may also lead to a sprain. Typically, the ankle rolls outward as the foot turns inward. Such action can stretch or tear the ankle’s ligaments. These ligaments are necessary to stabilize the joints of the foot and prevent involuntary movement.
The amount of damage to the ankle can vary. While some sprains may simply need icing and rest, more complicated cases might require surgery. If you have any question as to the severity of an ankle sprain, you can contact our office here. Dr. Evan Merrill and his expert staff will determine the best course of action for your injury. It’s important to seek treatment right away, because untreated sprains can lead to long-term joint weakness and pain.