Be Aware of Early Signs of Injury

Dr. Anthony Spitz, DPM

Podiatrist & Ankle and Foot Surgeon located in Wheeling, IL

Each and every day our feet take us from here to there – whether we are simply walking the dog or doing more strenuous activities like running. They are the foundation to your body, and as such, when they suffer, you can expect other aspects of your life to be impacted, too.

Indeed, the well-being of your feet is connected to your overall health. And problems in the lower limbs can actually be a good indicator of other, even life threating medical problems, like diabetes.

But the truth is, too often, our feet are taken for granted and foot issues are ignored until they become a serious problem. However, hoping that your feet will get better on their own is one of the biggest mistakes you can make – the longer you wait to seek professional treatment, the harder it will be to fix the problem.

Before you know it, you are no longer able to enjoy your favorite sports and standing in the kitchen to cook your secret recipes becomes impossible. Even worse, just getting up and going to the bathroom on your own can become a daunting task!

And you don’t want to be robbed of your mobility and independence, right?

Well, the good news is that there are plenty of preventative steps you can take to ensure your feet are kept in good shape. In fact, things like addressing ill-fitting shoes or using a pair of custom orthotics for better support and foot function, can truly be life changing. You should also be aware of early injury symptoms that may warrant a closer look from a professional, so let’s get right to it.

Common Foot and Ankle Injuries

Now, you may be wondering what are some of the most common foot problems we treat here at our office. Below are a few:

Achilles tendinitis. This is an inflammation of the tendon in the heel that results from overuse or a lack of stretching and flexibility.

Plantar fasciitis. This is an inflammation of the band of tissue in the arch of the foot, associated with flat feet, a lack of flexibility, and overuse.

Hammertoes. This is an inherited ligament imbalance that causes the toes to deform and bend.

Fungal toenails. This one doesn’t need much explaining – but fungal nails are the result of fungi becoming embedded underneath the nail. 

Ingrown toenails. This condition happens when the edge of the nail begins to dig into the surrounding skin.

Bunions. This is another inherited deformity that causes the bones in your midfoot to sag and point inward while the big toe points outward, causing a large bump to form where the big toe meets the foot.

Of course, you can also experience many other foot problems, from athlete’s foot and blisters to stress fractures and shin splints.

Fortunately, for as many possible injuries your feet might endure, there are just as many measures you can take to make sure you steer clear from painful symptoms. (Which brings us to our next point.)

Symptoms You Should Be Aware Of

Whether acute or chronic, the pain you experience can very well be an indication of an injury. Keeping that in mind, here are some symptoms of injuries you should be on the lookout for:

Pain in the bottom of the heel. When you have sharp, intense heel pain in the bottom of your foot, the most likely cause is plantar fasciitis. Excessive strain can lead to inflammation and pain of the plantar fascia, and tends to be strongest with your first steps following extended periods of rest (especially after a night’s sleep).

Pain in the back of the heel. If your pain is in the back of the heel, you may have a case of Achilles tendinitis. When subjected to overuse, your Achilles tendon can become inflamed and cause a duller pain. This is typically strongest during activity and will generally subside during rest.

Pain in the lower leg. Pain in the front of the lower legs is normally caused by shin splints. This happens when the muscles running along your lower leg bones become overworked (something often seen in runners who have recently increased workout intensity).

Pain in the front of the foot. Specifically, in the ball of the foot between the toes and arch, is known as metatarsalgia, and is usually caused by ill-fitting shoes. Though in other instances, the pain stems from callusing on the bottom of the foot caused by excessive pressure.

Toenail pain. If you are experiencing sharp pain in the toenail area, it is certainly possible you have developed an ingrown toenail. Other symptoms indicating this condition include redness and swelling in the soft tissue flanking the toenail.

Toenails that become dark. Black toenails is a fairly common condition for those who are physically active, especially long-distance runners. Most of the time, this is the result of physical trauma from the front of your toes repeatedly hitting the front of your shoes.

No matter which symptoms you are exhibiting, you should come visit our office for an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment plan. In the meantime, take some notes – we have great tips coming up on how you can prevent painful foot injuries from becoming a reality in your life.

Preventing Foot Injuries

The first step to preventing foot problems is to start paying more attention to them. Here are some tips for you to keep in mind when caring for your feet and ankles:

Check your feet every day. This is especially true if you are living with diabetes. Look for changes in the texture, shape and color of your feet and toenails.

Practice good foot hygiene. Wash your feet on a daily basis and make sure you dry them thoroughly after you are done, paying special attention to those areas between your toes.

Moisturize your feet. To reduce your risk of developing dry, cracked skin you should hydrate the skin in your feet after every wash. But keep in mind that you should avoid the areas between your toes.

Wear appropriate footwear. When you buy new shoes, make sure that they have plenty of room for your toes to move freely and that they provide enough support and cushion.

Trim your toenails the right way. Make sure you clip your nails straight across and keep them roughly even with the edge of the respective toes.

Alternate between shoes. You should give your footwear time to dry out completely between before you wear them again.

And, of course, you should also seek medical care whenever you become aware of anything unusual in your feet or ankles – early intervention is best for optimal recovery.

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