With our feet bearing the weight of our entire body, it’s no surprise that carrying excess weight may increase the chance of developing foot problems. In fact, recent studies have shown that overweight people experience more heel pain, tendonitis, arthritis, ball-of-foot pain, fractures and sprains in their feet and ankles than individuals at a normal, healthy weight.
Extra weight doesn’t have to be substantial to have an impact on your feet and ankles. As little as 10 or 20 pounds can trigger pain in the lower extremities. Being overweight changes the way your foot functions, and the force on the feet intensifies.
The most common foot problems from being overweight include:
- Plantar Fasciitis: Excess weight adds strain to the plantar fascia, overusing and weakening it. This causes it to become inflamed and irritated. Heel pain is one of the most common problems caused by weight gain.
- Tendonitis: When the feet endure extra weight, it eventually causes the tendons/ligaments to be overused, which leads to injury and inflammation.
- Fallen Arches: An increase in body weight and pressure causes the supporting structures in your feet (muscles, tendons, and ligaments) to become stretched and weakened, breaking down over time. This can weaken the muscle which gives the foot its arch, causing over-pronation and leading to other problems such as knee and hip pain.
Other effects from carrying extra weight include changes in posture, changes in gait (steps become shorter), and stress fractures.
Losing extra pounds can help ease the pain and reduce problems caused by carrying excess body weight. Unfortunately, it's tough to lose weight when your feet hurt. To combat foot problems triggered by weight gain, ease into a low-impact activity that doesn’t require you to place pressure on your foot, such as water aerobics. Always start any new workout routine slowly. Work with your physician to find healthy ways to modify your diet, and your podiatrist to select the best, most supportive footwear for your feet.
Foot pain is never normal, regardless of weight, as it indicates some type of stress or injury. You should always consult an experienced podiatrist if you are experiencing any pain in your foot.
Are you concerned that you may have sprained your ankle? Our Somerset, NJ, podiatrist, Dr. Jade Gittens, shares a few signs and symptoms that may occur if you have a sprain and discusses treatment options.
Your ankle hurts
Pain commonly occurs the second you experience any type of injury. If your injury is only minor, your ache may quickly disappear. When you have a sprain, the pain lingers, although your pain level may vary depending on the severity of the sprain.
Pain that increases when you walk or stand may be an indication that you have a sprained ankle. Because it can be hard to tell if ankle pain is caused by a sprain or fracture, it's a good idea to schedule a visit with our Somerset office if your pain hasn't improved more than a week after your injury, you can't put any weight at all on your leg, or you experience severe pain.
Your ankle is bruised and swollen
Your blood vessels widen to allow white blood cells to rush the site of your injury following a sprain. Although this response happens internally, you'll notice two outward signs. When blood flow increases suddenly, swelling and bruising tend to occur over the site of the injury.
You heard some sound effects when your injured your ankle
Many people report hearing a popping sound at the moment they sprained their ankles. The sound occurs due to the stretching or tearing of ligaments in the ankle joint.
Your ankle doesn't work the way it should
Swelling and ligament damage can make it difficult to use your ankle to walk, run or jump. If your ankle is stiff and difficult to bend, you may have a sprain.
Rest is an essential element of sprained ankle treatment
Your body needs time to heal after a sprain. If you ignore your pain and other symptoms, you may do more damage to your ankle and lengthen healing time. After a sprain, it's important to:
- Keep your ankle elevated as much as possible.
- Wear a compression bandage to reduce swelling.
- Apply ice packs and take over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medication to decrease pain and swelling.
Although home treatment is often helpful for mild ankle sprains, more serious sprains may require a visit to the foot doctor. Depending on the severity of your injury, you may benefit from a cast, walking booth, crutches or physical therapy. If your ankle becomes unstable, surgery may be needed.
Do you have any of these sprained ankle signs? Podiatric treatment can help you get back on your feet. Call our Somerset, NJ, podiatrist, Dr. Gittens, at (732) 412-1282 to schedule an appointment.
Dry, cracked heels are not only unsightly, but they can also be a source of pain and embarrassment. When the fissures in your heel become so dry and cracked that they bleed and hurt when you walk, it’s time to seek professional care from your podiatrist. Left untreated, heel fissures can become so deep and painful that they lead to an infection.
Cracked heels are most commonly caused by splitting of the skin as a result of severe dryness or thickening of a callus on your heel. Severe cases of dry, cracked heels can occur for numerous reasons, including:
- Cold winter weather or dry climates
- Having diabetes
- Scrubbing feet too harshly
- Soaking in a hot bath or shower for too long or too frequently
- Not moisturizing the feet
- Increased weight
- Walking barefoot or wearing open-backed sandals or shoes
- Prolonged standing at work or home
- Chronic skin problems, such as eczema or psoriasis
Here are a few tips for keeping heels from cracking:
- Moisturize your feet daily.
- Avoid walking barefoot or wearing open-backed shoes.
- Opt for mild soaps that won’t dry out your heels.
- Increase your water intake to keep your body hydrated.
- Limit time in the shower as hot water dries out the skin.
- Use a pumice stone or file as directed by your doctor to gently decrease thick calluses.
When to Visit Our Office
Cracked heels may begin as an annoyance or simple cosmetic issue, but they can lead to pain and serious infection if not managed properly. Most cases of dry, cracked heels will get better with a little foot pampering or over-the-counter foot cream.
When your heels are severely cracked or painful and conservative treatments have proven ineffective, visit our office. People with diabetes are at an especially high risk for health problems, and should not wait to have dry feet cared for. Severely cracked heels need moisture to avoid pain, bleeding and infection. A podiatrist can work with you to relieve your cracked heels, and get you back on your feet again.
Diabetes affects your health in many ways; keeping your condition in check can sometimes feel like a full-time job! Believe it or not, diabetes has even an effect on the health of your feet. Once you know how to properly manage this part of diabetes, however, you'll find that it isn't difficult or time-consuming. Dr. Jade Gittens, your podiatrist in Somerset, NJ, answers common questions and offers some tips here for her diabetic patients at Premier Foot & Ankle Center.
How does diabetes affect my feet?
Diabetes is a systemic condition that can be detrimental to your overall health without proper management. With regards to the feet, diabetes slows down the circulation of the blood. Since the feet are distanced from the heart, their blood flow becomes particularly compromised. Diabetes can also cause neuropathy, a nerve disorder that prevents people from feeling normal pain. These two complications of diabetes make injuries to the feet more serious than normal because your Somerset podiatrist's patients may not even know they've injured themselves until the wound, which isn't getting the proper blood flow necessary for healing, has become infected and difficult to treat.
How can I take care of my feet when I'm diabetic?
Dr. Gittens, your Somerset podiatrist, recommends taking these precautions to all her diabetic patients:
- Stay protected. Don't walk around barefoot, even inside your house. Wear comfortable but firm slippers and never wear open-toed shoes, especially outdoors.
- Keep clean. Make sure you wash your feet with mild soap and warm water every day. Take time after cleaning to inspect your feet, especially between the toes and on the soles, for any signs of injury. A hand-held mirror can assist you.
- Trim carefully. Trim your toenails straight across to avoid ingrowth and always use clean instruments. Your Somerset, NJ podiatrist can show you the proper technique if you're unsure.
If you're diabetic, any injury to the feet, no matter how minor, should be reported to Dr. Gittens at Premier Foot & Ankle Center in Somerset, NJ. Preventing foot wounds is key to proper diabetes care. For more information, contact our office for an appointment!
The summertime is a great time to show off your new sandals and allow your feet to breathe. But since the warmer months can be rough on your feet, it's important to give your feet a little extra care to keep them looking great and feeling healthy. Here are a few tips for keeping your feet in tip-top shape during the summer.
Keep feet clean
The best line of defense against fungal infections is proper hygiene and regular inspection of the feet and toes. Wash feet with soap and water daily, and dry them thoroughly to prevent infection. Wear shower shoes in public places, like pools and locker rooms. And to prevent ingrown nails and toenail fungus, keep toenails trimmed straight across.
Avoid walking barefoot
Walking outside in the summertime without shoes increases the risk of injury and infection. You never know what’s sitting out on the beach, and the last thing you want is to unexpectedly step on a sharp rock or piece of debris and cut your foot.
Protect feet from the sun
Wearing sunscreen is extremely important in the summertime - and that means lathering up the exposed skin on your feet and ankles too. If you’re a habitual sandals wearer, make sure to put sunscreen on before putting your feet in your shoes!
Keep your feet fungus free
Coupled with good foot hygiene, you can also prevent toenail fungus by alternating your shoes. If you suspect a fungus infected nail, visit us right away for early treatment.
Treat your feet to a pedicure
Eliminate rough, dead, winter skin and improve the appearance of your toenails with a pedicure. Do it yourself, or pamper yourself with a professional pedicure for attractive summer feet you'll be proud to show off.
The American Podiatric Medical Association recommends getting your pedicure in the morning, when salon foot baths are at their cleanest. Don’t shave your legs prior to your pedicure, even if you’re tempted to! When your legs are freshly shaven, they can have small cuts that allow bacteria to enter. Also, ensure you or the person performing your pedicure does not cut your cuticles, because they are your nail’s barrier to infection.
After the pedicure, don’t leave nail polish on all summer long. Remove it periodically to allow your nail bed to breathe, and then you’re free to swap to another festive summer color!
Prevent painful blisters
Sandals and flip-flops can lead to irritating blisters when they rub against your bare skin. Use padding or bandages to prevent and reduce friction.
Examine your flip flops
Flip flops are great for allowing your feet to breathe all summer long, but thong sandals can result in sore feet and ankles due to their lack of support. Choose styles with arch and heel support to keep feet healthy and pain-free.
Following these easy steps during the summer months can go a long way in keeping your feet looking and feeling their very best. Inspect your feet daily, and if you encounter any unusual foot problems or experience pain, contact our office for a thorough evaluation.
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