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Blog Graphic TDonatelli 2017 07 05 Ingrown ToenailIs It Time to See a Podiatrist About Your Ingrown Toenails?

Toenails have a simple function: grow slowly, and in the correction. Frustratingly, they often fail in that task. For many reasons, the edge or corner of a toenail might take an unwelcome detour into the soft flesh of your toe, causing pain, tenderness, and—if allowed to fester—sometimes even a nasty infection.

If you’ve just noticed the ingrown toenail, there aren’t any visible signs of infection, and you don’t have any kind of circulatory disorder (diabetes, peripheral vascular disease, etc.) you may be able to handle the problem at home. Soaking your feet in warm, soapy water several times per day can help relieve the discomfort. You’ll also want to keep your toes protected and avoid wearing tight, restrictive shoes, and you should never attempt to cut out the toenail yourself.

However, there are many factors that suggest it’s time to pull the plug on home care and stop in for a professional evaluation. Reach out for our help if your situation meets any of the following criteria:

  • You notice any signs of an infection, including excessive redness or drainage.
  • You have a circulatory condition such as diabetes or peripheral vascular disease, or any kind of neuropathy in your feet.
  • Your pain is significant or interfering with your daily life.
  • Home care is not leading to any improvement with symptoms.
  • You’ve regularly had ingrown toenails in the past, or you just don’t want to deal with it anymore!

The good news is that getting an ingrown toenail fixed by a podiatrist is a quick and relatively painless procedure that can bring near-instant relief. We inject the toe with a little anesthetic and cut out and remove the ingrown part of the toenail. If desired, we can also remove a small portion of the nail matrix, which will permanently prevent the ingrown nail from returning, too.

When you know it’s finally time to recruit some help for your ingrown toenail, trust your feet to the experts at Foot & Ankle Clinic of the Virginias. You can schedule an appointment at any of our convenient locations by calling (800) 456-8637.

How to Relieve Heel Pain at Work

HeelPainAtWorkHeel pain is a frequent, and frustrating, companion to those who work on their feet. Whether you work in energy, R&D, healthcare, education, retail, the service sector, or any other active role, the daily grind can leave your heels aching and your entire body warn out by the time you punch out.

Well, we have news for you. While it’s true that working on your feet can do a number on your heels, you shouldn’t have to suffer just because your job is an active one. Our bodies were designed for standing and walking. Typically, making some adjustments to your routine (along with professional treatment, if necessary) can help you get through your day with less pain and more energy to do the things you really love after you get home!

  • Are your shoes to blame? Not all shoes are really meant for prolonged standing, and even those that are might not be the right fit for you. Make sure your shoes offer plenty of cushioning, proper arch support, have a slightly elevated heel, and don’t pinch your toes.
  • Do you need orthotic support? Sometimes, biomechanical inefficiencies in the way you stand or walk can cause heels to wear down faster, even if you’re wearing the “right” shoes. Special inserts, including those custom made by our team, can help bridge the gap.
  • Take regular breaks. If you stand for most of the day, make sure you take advantage of the opportunity to sit during your break time. The more you can alternate sitting and standing, the happier your heels will be.
  • Keep the blood flowing. Take time to stretch your calves, roll your ankles, wiggle your toes, and keep those leg and foot muscles as relaxed as possible. A few minutes of stretching every hour or so can make a big difference.
  • Modify your workstation, if possible. If you spend most of your day on a line or in front of a classroom, a squishy rubber mat placed where you stand can provide a significant improvement over hard tile or concrete.

These precautionary measures and adjustments may not bring you the relief you need to get through the day and enjoy your time before, during, and after your work hours. Don’t hesitate – schedule an appointment with the heel pain experts at Foot & Ankle Clinic of the Virginias. You can reach any of our seven convenient options by calling (800) 456-8637.

Is Your Heel Pain Achilles Tendinitis … or Something Else? 

Discovering causes of heel painAchilles tendinitis is a common source of pain and misery in the heels and ankles, especially among active adults. Repetitive, high-stress activities (think running, tennis, or basketball) can cause the tendon fibers to swell, tear, or even degenerate. Older adults are particularly at risk, since at this time tendons are generally becoming weaker and less flexible with age.

But let’s hold up for a second. How can you be sure that your heel pain is Achilles tendinitis? The truth is that many heel pain conditions feature very similar symptoms, and the causes can even overlap. If you don’t know what the problem is—or you try to self-diagnose and get it wrong—you might not know the best way to treat it.

Some of the telltale signs of Achilles tendinitis include:

  • Pain located along the back of the leg, typically just above the back of the heel. This is where the Achilles tendon inserts into the heel bone, and is thinnest and weakest here.
  • Stiffness and tenderness along the Achilles tendon, particularly in the early morning.
  • Pain and swelling that worsens throughout the day, particularly after a period of activity.
  • A lump may form on the tendon at the back of the leg.

The location of the pain is the easiest way to distinguish Achilles tendinitis from its primary competition for “most popular source of heel pain,” plantar fasciitis. In that condition, pain is located principally on the underside of the foot, typically underneath the heel or just in front of it.

There are other potential causes of your heel pain, too. Achilles bursitis, a swelling of a fluid-filled sac called a bursa, often occurs alongside Achilles tendinitis and may be almost impossible to distinguish from it unless inspected by a professional. Other possibilities include compressed nerves (such as tarsal tunnel syndrome), stress fractures, or even arthritis.

Even when symptoms can seem so similar, the most appropriate treatment remedy can vary significantly based on precisely what, where, and how. That’s why, if symptoms persist longer than a couple of days, you should always make an appointment with the Foot & Ankle Clinic of the Virginias. We’ll help you determine the best course of action, whether that includes new shoes, custom orthotics, stretches, surgery, or other potential solutions.

To see us in any of our convenient locations—Blacksburg and Bluefield in Virginia, or Charleston, Beckley, Montgomery, Oceana, or Princeton in West Virginia—give us a call at (800) 456-8637.

A Runner's Guide to Preventing Foot and Ankle Injuries

Running ShoesAs the temperatures start to heat up this summer, the sidewalks, trails, and pathways are filling up with runners going out for their morning or evening jog. We hope you’re one of them! We probably don’t have to tell you how good running is for your mind and body, not to mention your feet.

That said, we also probably don’t have to tell you that running without proper preparation is a recipe for a foot injury, too. Whether you’re already an avid runner, or you’re just getting started (or restarted), this basic guide can help you minimize your risk of both painful accidents and chronic pain.

  • Stretch every day, including before and after a run. Take your time and make sure to warm up for about 10 minutes.
  • At least a couple of times per week, perform strengthening exercises for your feet, ankles, and legs. This helps them better stabilize and protect your bones and joints during your run.
  • Get a decent pair of running shoes. No, you don’t have to spend $300. But you also can’t expect your old pair of tennis shoes to do the job, either. Find a nice pair of dedicated running shoes that are a good match for your foot shape and gait style. The staff at a specialty running store can usually provide good advice here, as can we.
  • Replace your running shoes when they wear out. A good rule of thumb is 300-500 miles, but that number varies depending on factors such as your weight, your form, and the terrain.
  • Pace yourself. One of the best ways to get hurt is to go too far, too fast, too soon and ignore all the painful warning signs along the way. Start slow—perhaps even with just walking. Build up your intensity gradually, increasing duration and intensity by only about 10% per week.
  • Mix up your activities. Running is great, but if it’s you’re only exercise you can put a lot of stress on your feet. Make sure you take appropriate rest days and spend some time doing less impact-heavy aerobic exercises.

May the roads and trails be kind to you this summer! Should foot pain or injury befall you, however, make an appointment with Foot & Ankle Clinic of the Virginias. We have seven convenient locations to serve you—just call (800) 456-8637.

What to Do if You Sprain Your Ankle

Ankle SprainAnkle sprains are the most common lower limb injury—and sports injury of any type—in America. As a matter of fact, as many as 20% of all sports-related injuries are ankle sprains. Despite this, many people aren’t sure about the best way to care for a sprain, and that can mean longer healing times, chronic pain, or even persistent instability and wobbliness long after the original accident.

If you sprain your ankle, it’s important to begin first aid procedures right away. Don’t try to hobble your way through the end of the game first! Offload immediately, as any further walking or bearing weight could worsen the ligament tear. Implement the RICE protocol:

  • Rest. You’re already doing this by offloading the weight.
  • Ice. Twenty minutes of icing at a time, up to 4 times per day, minimizes pain and swelling.
  • Compression. Various dressings, bandages, or wraps apply light pressure to improve circulation and support the weakened joint.
  • Elevation. Keep your feet propped up when you sit or sleep to encourage good blood flow.

We generally recommend that you seek professional help for any pain or swelling in your ankle that might be a sprain. Simply put, the risk of complications from a sprain that doesn’t heal properly is too high. Very mild sprains may well heal on their own just with RICE therapy, but more serious pain (or pain that doesn’t improve within 48 hours) should be evaluated by our podiatry team as soon as possible.

Depending on the severity of the sprain, additional treatments may include the likes of:

  • Crutches that allow you to walk without putting weight on the ankle
  • A splint, brace, walking boot, or short cast to keep the ankle stable and immobilized during healing.
  • Surgery to repair a torn tendon (only necessary in the most severe cases).
  • Physical therapy exercises to rehabilitate the sprain during and after the healing process.

The experts at Foot & Ankle Clinic of the Virginias work hard every day to help patients overcome their injuries. To schedule an appointment at any of our convenient locations, please call (800) 456-8637.

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