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Foot and ankle issues have quite the range when it comes to degree of severity. Some issues are easily treated, whereas others can ultimately become life-threatening. On the “highly-severe” side of the scale is the matter of diabetic foot ulcers. As you understand what happens with untreated foot wounds, it’s very easy to see why you are best off doing everything you can to avoid them.

If you don’t have diabetes, it is important to treat foot wounds, and not let them fester. Unless you have numbness caused by nondiabetic neuropathy (nerve damage), you will likely be able to tell when the wound has developed – that is, after all, one of the important responsibilities of your peripheral nerves.Dangers of Diabetic Foot Ulcers

In the event you cut or scrape a foot, it’s a good idea to clean the wound carefully, and then apply antibiotic ointment to prevent infection. As long as your body’s immune system isn’t compromised, your white blood cells will do everything they can to fight off any microorganisms (bacterial, fungal, or viral) that try to invade your body.

Major problems can develop, though, if you are diabetic and ignore a foot wound. Ignoring the wound doesn’t even have to be intentional; even if you aren’t aware of the problem, letting it go unaddressed can lead to a critical situation. Specifically, the continued breakdown of a wound can potentially result in a gangrenous condition.

When it comes to treating gangrene, the first thing you need to keep in mind is the fact there isn’t treatment for tissue that is already dead. For this reason, you should take every step possible to prevent it from happening to you in the first place. When preventative measures haven’t been taken and the problem already exists, it is absolutely crucial that steps are taken immediately to prevent the condition from progressing.

Treatment typically relies on a combination of surgery, antibiotics, and sometimes hyperbaric oxygen therapy to remove dead tissue and fight off any infection. In addition to removing dead tissue—this can include amputation in severe cases—surgical procedures may be used to repair diseased or damaged blood vessels. The intent of this is to promote blood flow to the affected area and save as much of the healthy tissue as possible, while also allowing for the possibility of a skin graft over the affected area.

Here at Foot & Ankle Clinic of the Virginias, we would rather you not have an untreated wound that leads to gangrene, and will gladly help you take steps to prevent this from happening in the first place.

Properly managing your diabetes can be instrumental in reducing your risk, as can giving up smoking and the use of all tobacco products. Losing weight and taking care of open wounds are other measures that will certainly help. Come see us at one of our seven offices and you will have an experienced, compassionate podiatrist assist you in creating a diabetic foot care plan to keep you safe. Call us toll-free today at (800) 456-8637 to request your appointment!

Orthotics are an Investment in Your Health

Our staff at Foot & Ankle Clinic of the Virginias wants you to be able to do your favorite activities, without having to endure foot or ankle pain. We probably aren’t going out too far on a limb to assume that you want this too! Fortunately, our medical specialists can provide care to resolve many problems that arise, and then offer solutions to prevent them from recurring. Blog Graphic TDonatelli 2017 08 01 Orthotics Are An Investment In Your Health

One valuable tool in both treating and preventing various medical issues for you may be a pair of custom orthotics. Before we go much further, it’s worth noting that we don’t prescribe orthotics to everyone who comes to see us. When we do, however, these devices can be quite effective. As a matter of fact, you can think about orthotics as being an investment in your health.

Many patients wonder if orthotics are really all that different than the shoe inserts sold at stores and nationwide pharmacy chains. Whereas off-the-shelf inserts may provide a certain degree of additional arch support and extra cushioning, they are not intended to actually correct medical conditions.

When we prescribe orthotic devices, they are used to address a problem you are experiencing. Further, these are customized to work with your unique foot structure and gait pattern, something a mass-produced insert is unable to do.

We understand that the upfront cost of orthotics, when compared to store-bought inserts, might seem like a lot, but this is where “investment” comes into play. Orthotics can address issues that, left untreated, will become bigger problems later. Offloading pressure on the front of the foot, for example, can prevent a bunion from worsening to the point that surgery becomes a necessary option. So not only will it cost you less in the long run (by not needing surgery), but there’s also the simple fact you are saving yourself from a lot of pain. Quality of life should always be a consideration, and orthotics can allow you to perform your favorite activities.

In addition to bunions, we can use orthotics to treat a variety of other ailments. If you have foot arches that are either too low or too high, are experiencing pain in the ball of your foot (metatarsalgia), or suffer from heel pain (plantar fasciitis), we may recommend orthotics as part of your treatment. If you are diabetic, we may prescribe orthotic devices to ensure equitable distribution of pressure (to prevent dangerous foot ulcers).

If you would like more information—or are experiencing foot pain and need to schedule an appointment for any of our seven offices—call us at (800) 456-8637 today. 

Blog Graphic TDonatelli 2017 07 19 Right Way To Clip ToenailsWhat Is the Best Way to Trim Your Toenails?

Some skills are learned at such a young age that we can’t remember what it was like—or think that we might be doing it “wrong.” You’ve probably never given how to brush your teeth, or use a fork, or put on pants a second thought. Of course you’re doing it right! 

It might surprise you, then, to learn that there’s a right and wrong way to clip your toenails. Worse, lots of people are doing it incorrectly! You might not think it matters much, but an improperly trimmed toenail increases your risk for lots of nail, foot, and skin problems. Ingrown toenails are the most obvious, but fungal nails, bruises and cuts under the toenail, blisters, and other conditions are just some of the possible consequences of poor technique.

So what’s the right way to do it? Good news: it isn’t difficult.

  • Don’t curve the edge of the nail as you might with your fingernails. Removing the corners can cause them to dig down into the soft flesh alongside the nail. That significantly increases your ingrown nail risk.
  • Don’t trim your nails too short. This not only increases your risk of ingrown nails, but also can create tiny cuts and gaps for bacterial and fungal infections to get in.
  • Use an appropriate set of toenail clippers, rather than slender fingernail clippers. Toenail clippers tend to have a straighter edge so you don’t round the corners. They’re also larger and offer more leverage, which helps you cut more safely through thick nails.
  • Cut your nails when they’re dry—not right after you get out of the shower. Wet nails are softer, which makes them more likely to tear or bend painfully.
  • Never cut your cuticles. This can mean pain, bleeding, and infection.

Proper trimming technique should help you keep your nails and feet healthier and safer from damage and infection! For more foot care tips, browse our website and connect with us on Facebook. If you need to schedule an appointment, you can complete our online contact form or give us a call at (800) 456-8637.

4 Ways to Prevent Ingrown Toenails 

Ingrown toenails are one condition you definitely want to avoid, if you can help it. One, they’re unsightly. Two, they can cause significant pain and tenderness and make it difficult to wear shoes comfortable. Third, if untreated they could lead to a serious infection, especially if you have diabetes or an otherwise compromised immune, circulatory, or nervous system.

Best strategies to prevent ingrown toenailsFortunately, you can discourage your nails from growing sideways into your skin. If you’d like to prevent the next episode, try these strategies:

Trim your toenails properly. We know what you’re thinking—how hard can it be cut a set of toenails? The truth is that it isn’t, but not everyone knows the right way. Don’t curve your toenails around the corners like you would with your fingernails, and don’t cut them too short, either. Instead, go straight across and leave a little length on.

Give your feet some room in your shoes. Tight, constrictive spaces for toes can push toenails downward and cause them to grow in rather than out. This can happen if you spend a lot of time in tight dress shoes. It can also happen to children who outgrow their shoes faster than they are replaced.

Protect your toes. Slamming feet into table legs, dropping heavy objects, or other sudden traumas to toes are a frequent cause of ingrown toenails. So, make sure you’re properly protected with closed-toed shoes—or if necessary even steel-toed boots—when engaging in activities that might put your feet at risk.

Get the surgical fix. The unfortunate truth is that, for certain feet, the three above solutions won’t be enough to prevent recurrence of ingrown toenails. That is because you may have inherited a genetic predisposition for ingrown toenails, even if you did everything right. In these cases, it’s often best to get a small sliver of the nail matrix permanently removed. This prevents the offending nail edge from growing back—ever—and provides permanent relief.

If you’re sick of ingrown toenails and find that simple prevention strategies aren’t working, stop in and see the team at Foot & Ankle Clinic of the Virginias. We’ll help you deal with your problem quickly so you can get back on your feet and enjoy your life. To schedule with us at any of our Virginia or West Virginia locations, dial (800) 456-8637.

Blog Graphic TDonatelli 2017 07 07 How Ingrown Toenail Removal WorksHow Ingrown Toenail Removal Works

As a general rule of thumb, we attempt to treat every foot and ankle condition in the least invasive way possible. The good news is that many problems are effectively resolved with conservative treatment. Sometimes, though, we do need to use more advanced solutions, even for a nail problem like ingrown toenails.

For a fairly basic ingrown nail, we may be able to provide relief with medication and gently lift the ingrown edge so the nail can grow out in a normal manner (over the skin). Depending on your level of comfort—and provided you do not have diabetes—you might even be able to do this yourself.

Ingrown toenail removal, though, is something we may recommend for more severe cases. Our medical team can help you find relief by either partially or completely removing an affected nail. Complete (and permanent) removal is often a necessary measure to address toenails that repeatedly become ingrown. In these cases, there is no amount of trimming that will provide lasting comfort or prevent the condition from recurring.

The steps for an ingrown toenail removal are basically:

  1. The affected toe is anesthetized and prepared for the procedure. We know it may sound like it’d be painful to have a toenail removed, but the anesthesia will numb sensations to make the procedure as painless as possible.
  2. A surgical tool is used to cut the nail from the free edge to the back of the matrix bed. The part of the nail to be removed from the nailbed is loosened. It may be relieving to know that the tool we use doesn’t cut into the nailbed – only the nail.
  3. Forceps are then used to grasp the nail to be removed. The nail border is then separated from the nail margin with a twisting motion.
  4. The exposed matrix cells—the ones that cause nail tissue to grow—are then sterilized to prevent the nail from growing back.
  5. The affected toe is then bandaged and you will be given post-operative instructions, which includes keeping the site clean, using triple-antibiotic ointment, and keeping the area covered with a clean bandage.

At this point, we’d like to reemphasize both the fact that you will be anesthetized—so no need to worry about pain—and that we reserve this option for cases that are either severe or chronic. If your ingrown toenail isn’t as much of an issue, then you may simply need conservative care.

No matter which kind of treatment you need for an ingrown toenail, you can rest assured knowing that our team at Foot & Ankle Clinic of the Virginias can provide it for you. We take pride in providing comprehensive foot and ankle care, so contact us today. Request your appointment by either filling out our online form or calling us at (800) 456-8637.

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