An ingrown toenail is a nail that has curved downward and grows into the skin. This typically occurs at the nail borders, or the sides of the nail. As a result, pain, redness, swelling, and warmth may occur in the toe. If a break in the skin forms due to the ingrown nail, bacteria may enter and cause an infection in the area; this is typically characterized by a foul odor and drainage.
Ingrown toenails have multiple reasons for developing. In many instances, the condition is a result of genetics and is inherited. The most common cause, however, is improper trimming; cutting the toenails too short forces the skin beside the nail to fold over. An ingrown toenail can also develop due to trauma, such as stubbing the toe, having an object fall on the toe, or participating in activities that involve repeated kicking or running. Wearing shoes that are too tight or too short can also cause ingrown toenails.
Treatment for an ingrown toenail varies between patients and the severity of the condition. Milder cases that don’t involve infection or other medical conditions can benefit from soaking the feet in room-temperature water and gently massaging the side of the nail. In most cases, however, it is best to see your podiatrist for thorough and proper treatment. After examining your toe, your podiatrist may prescribe oral antibiotics to clear the infection if one is present. Surgical removal of either a portion of the nail or the entire nail may also be considered. In some cases, complete removal or destruction of the nail root may be required. Most patients who undergo nail surgery experience minimal pain afterward and can return to normal activity the following day.
Ingrown toenails can be prevented with proper nail trimming and by avoiding improper-fitting shoes. When cutting the toenails, be sure that you are cutting in a straight line and avoid cutting them too short. Shoes should not be too short or tight in the toe box.
Blisters are pockets of fluid that occur under the top layer of your skin. These fluid pockets are usually filled with pus, blood, or serum. Blisters may itch or hurt and can appear as a single bubble or in clusters.
The most common types of blisters are friction blisters. This type of blister may be caused by wearing shoes that are too tight. Friction blisters can also occur on the hands. A change in temperature may also cause blisters on the feet. In the freezing air, frostbite on your toes can lead to blisters, as well as sunburn from hot weather.
The best way to treat a blister is to keep it clean and dry. Most blisters will get better on their own. Once the skin absorbs the fluid within the blister, it will flatten and eventually peel off. You should avoid popping your blister unless you podiatrist does it for you. Additional treatment options include applying an ice pack to the blister or using over-the-counter blister bandages to cover the affected area.
If your blister becomes discolored, inflamed, or worsens it is advised that you speak to your podiatrist. Blisters that are yellow, green, or purple may be infected and require immediate medical attention. Blisters that are abnormally colored may be a sign of a more serious underlying health condition such as herpes.
Flatfoot is a foot condition in which the arch of the foot has either partially or totally dropped or has never developed. While it is common in babies and small children, it can become a problem for them in adulthood if the arch never forms. For adults, the development of flat feet can be brought upon by injury, as a result of pregnancy due to increased elasticity, or obesity. Those who have health concerns such as rheumatoid arthritis or diabetes may also be at greater risk for developing the condition.
If you suspect that you have flat feet, it is best to consult your podiatrist. Your foot doctor will examine the suspected foot and observe how it looks while you sit and stand. He or she may take an X-ray to determine how serious the condition is. Some common signs of flatfoot include toe drift, in which the toes and front part of the foot point outward, a short Achilles tendon, and a heel that tilts outwardly while the ankle tilts inward.
Once flatfoot has been diagnosed, your podiatrist may suggest one of several treatment options. Flat feet can be rigid, in which the feet appear to have no arch even when the person is not standing; or flexible, in which the person appears to have an arch while not standing, but once standing the arch disappears. Those with flexible flatfoot may be told to reduce any activities that cause pain and to avoid extended periods of walking or standing. Another suggestion may be weight loss, as excessive weight may be placing pressure on the arches
In few cases, if the condition is severe and all other methods have been exhausted surgery may be required. This is normally avoided, however, due to a lengthy recovery time and high cost.
The foot and ankle area works with 26 bones, 33 joints, and more than 100 different muscles, tendons, and ligaments. Problems with any parts of this network can result in some kind trauma within the foot and ankle area. Most foot and ankle trauma is a result of aging or intense activities such as sports. However, trauma in this area can also be the result of simple things such as wearing heels too much or even walking on an uneven pavement. There are several kinds of symptoms related to specific injuries, and there are also several different treatments that could be used as well.
Foot Injuries and Symptoms
Some common injuries in the feet include stress fractures and bunions. Stress fractures are small cracks in a bone or severely bruised parts of the bone. This type of injury is caused by intense and repetitive activity, which is found in actions involved with sports and exercise. Symptoms of this injury include pain, swelling, tenderness, and possible bruising. Another common injury with bones is also bunions, which are bony bumps typically formed on the big and little toes. This injury is typically a result from wearing high heels and unfit shoes. Some common symptoms are swelling around the big and little toe areas, as well as pain and restricted movement.
Ankle Injuries and Symptoms
The common injuries associated with ankle trauma consist of sprains, strains, and fractures. These injuries are defined by the type of tissue that has been damaged. Fractures are breaks within the bones caused by sudden impacts to the area. Sprains relate to any damage of the ligaments, commonly caused by being stretched beyond their normal range of motion. Strains are attributed to damage of the muscles and tendons from being pulled too far. Symptoms of these injuries include severe pain, limited range of motion, and swelling.
Diagnosis and Treatment
Since there are several types of injuries with a variety of symptoms, it is important to see a podiatrist about your condition. Podiatrists can run a variety of tests to diagnose an injury accurately. This includes physical examinations, X-rays, or MRIs. A podiatrist may even run a stress test, which is an X-ray taken while pressure is applied to the damaged area. Once your injury has been diagnosed, the doctor may have you wear a cast or a splint, or gradually develop your range of motion. Severe injuries may require physical therapy or even surgery if necessary. If you have any concerns from past foot and ankle trauma experiences, consult with Dr. Harry I. Zirna from Lockport Foot Care, PLLC. Dr. Zirna can assess your condition and provide you with quality foot and ankle treatment.
If you have any questions, please feel free to contact our offices located in Lockport and Medina, NY. We offer the newest diagnostic and treatment technologies for all your foot care needs.