When a preteen or teen complains of heel pain, a frequent diagnosis is Sever’s disease, which sounds much worse than it really is. This common growing pain is relatively short-lived and won’t cause any long-term problems. It can, however, be quite painful; we’ll help relieve the discomfort and speed their recovery.
Big Toe Pain
We’ve all seen toenails like these at the pool or in the shower at the gym. Yellow toenails, thick toenails and discolored toenails all point to the same thing – fungus. It’s an embarrassing condition, but it’s also very common.
While athletes often experience peroneal tendonitis, it’s actually very common. It is caused by excessive stress on the peroneal tendon in the foot, so in addition to athletes, we see it in women who wear high heels, factory workers or anyone who stands a lot, and people who work on uneven surfaces. Like many foot conditions, this one won’t get any better unless it’s treated, so we recommend coming in for an examination.
Tennis requires a lot of stopping, starting and changing direction, which has made it the headlining sponsor for a common sports injury called tennis toe. Frequent sudden changes in direction can lead to bleeding under the big toenail, which can be both painful and less than attractive.
When a big toe is jammed over and over again on a hard surface, it can cause an injury called turf toe. We see this mostly with athletes who play on artificial turf and repeatedly stop and start suddenly, such as with soccer and football.
If you’re an athlete, chances are you’ve had at least one sprained ankle. More than 23,000 Americans sprain their ankle each day — it’s the most common sports injury and one of the most common injuries overall. Unfortunately, spraining your ankle once can leave you prone to repeated sprains if it doesn’t heel properly.
Athlete’s Foot Is One Doozy Of A Foot Fungus.
We see it in patients of all ages who shower at the fitness center or spend time in a locker room, where it’s easily spread.
Once the fungus comes in contact with your skin, that warm, moist environment of your sweaty sneakers is like fungal heaven.
The skin around and between your toes will itch and sometimes burn, peel, crack, hurt, blister or become infected. The skin around your heel and the bottom of your foot may thicken and crack. It can even spread to your toenails, which may become thick, yellowish and start to flake or crumble. It’s not pretty.
Direct skin-to-skin contact, walking barefoot on contaminated locker room floors, showering after or sharing shoes with someone who has athlete’s foot is all it takes.
It’s even possible to touch something that’s contaminated and pass it to another person without actually getting athlete’s foot yourself. That’s because some people are just more susceptible to it. And if you’ve already had athlete’s foot, you’re at a higher risk of repeated outbreaks.
If you have recently noticed the signs of an athlete’s foot infection and it’s the first time you have had it, try one of the over-the-counter products for Athlete’s foot. Along with the cream, lotion or spray, here are some other important tips:
- Stay away from infected areas! Wait till you get home from the gym to shower. (And make sure to sanitize the tub so you don’t pass it along to your partner). We suggest wearing a protected flip flop like Vionic with Orthaheel Technology.
- Wash with antifungal soap daily. We recommend FungaSoap because it’s naturally based and gentle enough to use every day because it contains tea tree oil; a natural antifungal.
- Apply an anti-fungal cream or athlete’s foot cream and foot powder to your feet and in between the toes before putting socks and shoes on. We carry all these products in the office.
- Avoid wearing cotton socks, which will just hold the excessive sweat against your skin. We recommend copper thread or bamboo socks.
- Give your shoes time to dry out by wearing different shoes every other day.
- Sanitize shoes that you wear frequently with a Shoe Zap or spray with antifungal Fortinia Shoe Spray.
The Itching And Burning Keep Coming Back
If you’ve had Athlete’s foot for some time and the over-the-counter treatments aren’t working, or if this is a recurring problem, come in for an appointment.
We can prescribe medications that will clear it up. We also offer a full line of prescription-strength products in our office to help treat this condition, plus we offer the Shoe Zap as a convenience item.
If your toenails have become infected and turn yellowish and thicken, call us right away.
Toenail infections need to be treated separately from athlete’s foot, so your cream or spray won’t help.
It can also lead to permanent damage and may spread to other parts of the body.
Foot cramps come on fast, and they come on hard.
Most people find it difficult, if not impossible to continue what they were doing when a foot cramp strikes, whether that’s working out, walking through Wal-Mart or sleeping.
There’s quite a variety of issues that can cause foot cramps, and some of them might surprise you:
- Nutrition – If your body is low in certain nutrients, it might contribute to muscle and nerve issues that can cause foot cramps. For example, potassium, which is commonly found in bananas and salt, can help prevent foot cramps.
- Circulation – Certain health conditions that affect your blood flow can cause foot cramps if the foot doesn’t get enough oxygen.
- Hydration – Foot cramps can occur if you do not stay properly hydrated, particularly during athletic activities.
- Toxins – Whether they’re from bad air, bad water, bad food or bad personal care products, toxins can cause a variety of health issues including foot cramps.
- Smoking and Drinking – Add foot cramps to the long list of health issues that can be caused by smoking and drinking too much alcohol. Both of these can lead to dehydration, circulation issues and poisons in your body, so you’re almost asking for foot cramps if you like to smoke and drink.
- Prescriptions – Certain medications bring an increased risk of foot cramps.
- Other more expected causes of foot cramps include pinched nerves, injury, stress on the foot, and overly tired feet.
If you are experiencing foot cramps, come in for an appointment and we’ll get to the bottom of it.
There may be small changes in your lifestyle and diet that you can make to limit the cramps. If there are health concerns that contribute to the cramps, we’ll address those too.
Treatment might also include a routine of certain stretches, pain or anti-inflammatory medications, rest, wearing shoe inserts or orthotics, changing the type of shoes you wear, and elevating and icing or heating the foot.
Shin Splints Are A Common Complaint
Among athletes of every level, from competitive athletes to middle school kids running three laps around the gym. However, anyone can get shin splints. Also known as tibial fasciitis, shin splints are an overuse injury that results in inflammation of the muscle that attaches to the shin bone. It’s painful, reoccurring, and often is resistant to treatment.
Patients with shin splints complain of pain or tenderness in the shins that seems to increase when they are walking or exercising. The discomfort might fade a bit while they’re exercising, but it usually comes back full force after they cool down.
This painful nuisance can be caused by:
- Incorrect shoes
- Failure to properly stretch
- Running on hard surfaces
- Inflexible calf muscles
- We particularly see a lot of patients that are either starting a new exercise routine or have joined a new sport, because their bodies are not used to this new type of work out.
When treating shin splints, we take steps to reduce the pain and prevent them from coming back. Some options for treatment include:
- Strengthening exercises and stretches
- Changing the type of shoes you wear
- Custom orthotics that will reduce stress on the muscle
- Physical therapy
We often combine these with anti-inflammatory medications, rest and ice applications. For athletes opposed to rest, we can recommend alternate activities that will allow you to keep in shape while letting the shins heal, such as biking and swimming.
Sometimes our poor, abused feet just feel sore and achy. There’s not anything necessarily wrong with them – they’re just tired.
If your feet are chronically achy, come in for an appointment.
We’ll do a physical examination to check for conditions that might contribute to achy feet, such as,
- Plantar fasciitis
- We’ll also talk about the type of shoes you wear most and look at how they fit, because improperly fitted shoes are one of the top causes of foot pain.
If we are able to rule out other problems and conditions and find that your feet are just sore from a hectic life, we have some tips that might be able to help:
- Make sure you are wearing shoes with proper arch support and cushioning, especially if you stand or walk a lot throughout the day.
- Try changing your shoes for a few days and see if that helps. If you normally wear high heels, exchange them for flats until they feel better.
- Soak your feet in warm water. If they are swollen, ice and elevate them.
- Treat yourself to a nightly foot massage.
- We can also show you some stretches that may help.
Athletes who start to feel a gradually worsening pain in the top of their foot might have a navicular stress fracture. It’s most common in sports that require sudden direction changes, jumping and running, such as football, soccer, basketball and running. The navicular bone is situated on the top of the foot right where it meets the ankle. Although it’s only the size of a nickel, it can shut your season down quickly. It will get worse if it’s not treated, though, so call us for an appointment if you are exhibiting any of these symptoms.
A navicular stress fracture will start out as a mild aching in the mid-foot, particularly during exercise, which goes away with rest. In more advanced cases, even walking may become painful. You might also feel pain when you press the top of the foot over the navicular bone.
Delayed Diagnosis Leads To Worsening Fractures
Most patients cannot remember any specific injury that led to the pain, but instead just remember an increasing discomfort over time. Unfortunately, this means the diagnosis is usually delayed. Many navicular stress fractures will worsen before they are treated.
Misdiagnosis Is Common
This type of stress fracture is often misdiagnosed because it does not normally show up on an X-ray. So it’s important to see a podiatrist if you are experiencing these symptoms. We’ll either do a bone scan or MRI to get a better look and determine if it is a navicular stress fracture.
If that’s the diagnosis, this isn’t a quick fix. Sorry to be the bearer of bad news. navicular stress fractures require the foot to be immobilized in a non-weight bearing cast for six to eight weeks, followed by a gradual return to activity over another six week period. So, you’re looking at a minimum of three months on the bench while recovering.
Sweaty, Stinky Feet And Sports Just Seem To Go Together
Athletes spend a lot of time working up a sweat in their sneakers and cleats, but you don’t need to just accept this as the price you must pay for athletic glory because it can be treated.
Our skin is designed to cool the body by sweating, which is just water evaporating and taking some of the heat with it. When our feet sweat, bacteria and fungi will throw a party in your shoes.
They just love that cozy, warm, moist and dark environment.
The key to treatment is keeping feet dry and eliminating any bacteria or fungi that are causing the problems. In most cases, this is something you can do at home. We recommend trying the following self-treatment steps for a month:
- Wash your feet every morning and after athletic activities with a deodorizing, antifungal soap. Dry them thoroughly and apply a foot antiperspirant (Aarica) and deodorant. (Just rinsing them off isn’t good enough!)
- Apply foot powder to your feet and in between the toes before putting socks and shoes on.
- Avoid wearing cotton socks, which will just hold the excessive sweat against your skin. We suggest bamboo and copper thread socks that wick away moisture.
- Give your shoes time to dry out by alternating your shoes each day. Try not to wear the same pair of shoes two days in a row if you perspire a lot.
- Sanitize shoes that you wear frequently with a Pedifix Shoe Zap. It kills bacteria that causes smells and fungus with a UV light , or use Fortinia Shoe Spray.
You Are Not Alone
If you have ever experienced a tingling sensation or numbness in your toes or feet during exercise, you are not alone. This tingling can range from a mild symptoms and slight irritation to constant irritation and outright discomfort.
One common cause is ill-fitting shoes. If your sneakers or work-out shoes do not fit properly or they are laced too tightly, they will restrict circulation.
- Check to make sure that your feet have enough room in the toe box of the shoe
- Shoes should be laced with enough room for your foot to move around
- We recommend purchasing workout shoes from a store where the staff is trained to properly fit shoes for athletes to avoid the many problems that can stem from ill-fitting shoes
Along with an examination and a thorough medical history, additional testing may be required to confirm a diagnosis of Sciatica.
MRI, CT, Electromyogram and Radiographs are all examples of tests that may be obtained to further evaluate Sciatica.
There are a few other conditions that can cause numbness, including multiple schlerosis (MS), Raynaud’s disease and diabetic neuropathy.
It’s important to see a podiatrist to rule these conditions out.
Another possible cause is that your feet are merely falling asleep. This happens a lot with exercises that involve planting the feet in a stationary stance. Some examples include:
- Elliptical trainer
- When you continue to place pressure on your feet but don’t move them, it can restrict the circulation
Try wiggling your toes around and shifting your feet a bit as you exercise. Orthotics can also help eliminate the tingling by taking pressure off the ball of the foot.
Foot neuromas can also cause tingling and numbness. Symptoms range from discomfort or feeling like there’s a rock in your shoe to pain in the ball of the foot or numbness.
Neuromas are caused by the thickening of tissue around the nerves that lead into your toes, and they need to be treated by a podiatrist.