Dealing with Stress Fractures of the Foot and Ankle
Our bones are important parts of our body, and they are constantly changing and enduring stress. When stress from repetitive loads prevent the bone from being able to repair itself, cracks may begin to form. These cracks can develop into stress fractures, or cracks in the bone that result from repetitive force and/or overuse.
The most common cause of a stress fractures is a sudden increase in the intensity and duration of physical activity. For example, if you begin to run long distances without working your way into doing so, you will be more likely to develop a stress fracture.
Common symptoms of stress fractures include pain and swelling near the weight bearing area on the injured bone. When initial X-rays are performed, it is possible that the fracture will not appear. However, once the stress on the area continues, the damage will increase, and the fracture will eventually be severe enough to show up on an X-ray. Certain parts of the foot are more likely to develop stress fractures than others. Areas that are more likely to develop stress fractures include the metatarsals, the navicular bone, the calcaneus, tibia, and fibula.
Since women are at an increased risk of developing osteoporosis, they are twice as likely as men to sustain a stress fracture. In addition, old age causes a decrease in bone mineral density, which is why elderly people are also likely to develop these fractures.
It is important to be properly diagnosed for a stress fracture because there are other injuries that can easily be mistaken for a fracture. Sprains, strains, shin splints, plantar fasciitis, and Morton’s neuroma can all easily be mistaken for stress fractures in the foot. Your doctor will likely ask you a series of questions to determine what type of pain you are experiencing. These questions will help your doctor identify whether you have a stress fracture.
The best method of treatment for a stress fracture is rest. A walking boot, cast, or crutches may also help limit movement to the area that is injured. The typical healing time for stress fractures is 4-12 weeks; this depends, however, on which bone is involved.
Hammertoe is a foot deformity that occurs due to an imbalance in the tendons, muscles, or ligaments that are responsible for holding the toes in their normal position. This condition may be caused by poor footwear, foot structure, trauma, and disease. The most common solution for hammertoe is to relieve the pain by changing your footwear and wearing orthotics. In severe cases, surgery may be required.
The shoes that are most likely to cause hammertoe are high heeled shoes or shoes that are too tight in the toe box. Tight shoes will force your toes to crowd together in a curled position. This position will likely continue when you take your shoes off. Another cause of hammertoes is trauma. When you stub your toe, for example, you are increasing your chance of developing a hammertoe.
There are risk factors that may make you more likely to develop this condition. Women are more likely to have the condition compared to men. Hammertoe is also more likely to appear in those who are older in age.
Many different foot problems can be avoided by wearing shoes that have adjustability, adequate toe room, and low heels. Furthermore, if you want to buy new shoes, you should look to purchase them at the end of the day and make sure you know your correct size. The reason behind buying shoes at the end of the day is that your feet swell as the day progresses. You should also ensure that you are wearing your correct size because your shoe size may change as you grow older.
To diagnose someone with hammertoe, your podiatrist will need to conduct a thorough examination of your foot. Your doctor may even order an x-ray to evaluate the bones and joints of your feet and toes.
If you have a hammertoe, your podiatrist may recommend that you wear shoes that fit you better along with inserts to place inside them. Additionally, he or she may suggest special exercises for you to perform to stretch your toes. One helpful exercise is to pick up marbles with your feet or crumple a towel with your toes.
Prior to meeting with your podiatrist, it will be helpful to make a list of all the symptoms you are experiencing. You should also make a note of medications you are taking and important personal information about your medical history.
Gout, typically found in diabetic patients, is an unusually painful form of arthritis caused by elevated levels of uric acid in the bloodstream. The condition typically strikes the big joint on the big toe. It has also been known to strike the knees, elbows, fingers, ankles and wrists—generally anywhere that has a functioning, moving joint.
The high level of uric acid in a person’s bloodstream creates the condition known as hyperuricema—the main cause of gout. Genetic predisposition occurs in nine out of ten sufferers. The children of parents who suffer gout will have a two in ten chance of developing the condition as well.
This form of arthritis, being particularly painful, is the leftover uric acid crystallizing in the blood stream. The crystallized uric acid then travels to the space between joints where they rub, causing friction when the patient moves. Symptoms include: pain, redness, swelling, and inflammation. Additional side effects may include fatigue and fever, although reports of these effects are very rare. Some patients have reported that pain may intensify when the temperature drops, such as when you sleep.
Most cases of gout are easily diagnosed by a podiatrist’s assessment of the various symptoms. Defined tests can also be performed. A blood test to detect elevated levels of uric acid is often used as well as an x-ray to diagnose visible and chronic gout.
Treatment for gout simply means eliminating symptoms. Non-steroid anti-inflammatory drugs or NSAIDs (Colchicine and other corticosteroid drugs, etc.) will quell the redness, the swelling, and the inflammation. However, managing your diet, lifestyle changes, and using preventative drugs are all helpful toward fully combating the most severe cases.
Those that lead an inactive lifestyle are at a higher risk for gout. Any amount of exercise decreases the probability of repeat encounters with the condition. Reducing your consumption of red meat, sea food, and fructose-sweetened drinks also reduces the likelihood of chronic gout as well.
Ingesting Vitamin C, coffee, and particular dairy products can help with maintaining a healthy lifestyle. There are new drugs out on the market that inhibit the body’s production of uric acid-producing enzymes. However, reducing or eliminating your overall levels of uric acid is the best remedy to ensuring you lead a gout-free life.
Obesity and the Feet
Obesity is a common problem in American society. Approximately one third of the U.S. population is obese. Obesity is defined as a body mass index greater than 30. Obesity has the power to affect different aspects of the body, and one of the most common problems it causes is foot pain. There have been many studies that found a connection between an increased BMI and foot problems. A simple activity such as walking up a flight of stairs can increase pressure on the ankle by four to six times.
Being overweight causes the body to compensate for the extra weight by changing the way it moves. Consequently, people who struggle with obesity commonly have arch problems in their feet. Obesity causes the arch to break by stretching the ligaments and tendons that hold the bones in the foot together. When the arch lowers, the foot may eventually fall flat. Collapsed foot arches fail to provide adequate shock absorption which eventually leads to foot pain. Other conditions that may be caused by flat feet are pronation, plantar fasciitis, weak ankles, and shin splints.
Foot problems that are caused by obesity may be treated by wearing proper footwear. Proper shoes will allow your feet to have better circulation around the arch and ankle. Additionally, those with obesity often discover that typical heel pain remedies are not effective for them. They will find that their plantar fascia is easily injured, and it is often inflamed. The best way to treat this problem is to implement lifestyle changes. A few good ways to improve your diet are to reduce calories, fill up on fruits and veggies, and to limit sugars.
Custom foot orthotics can prevent foot problems if you’re carrying excess weight or are trying to lose weight. The purpose of orthotics is to provide shock absorption to decrease the amount of stress on the joints to prevent arthritis.