August 2009: Steps to Healthy Summer Feet
31 Jul 2009
Dr. Steven Miller is a board-certified podiatrist at Weiss Memorial Hospital. His specialties include orthopedic foot and ankle disorders and wound care.
Dr. Steven Miller
Weiss Memorial Hospital
Donning sandals to enjoy the warm weather? For some people, unveiling the feet is a little daunting. Toe deformities may prevent you from enjoying all the pleasures that summer can bring. One such ailment is the bunion, an enlargement of the joint at the base of the big toe. Contractures or bending of the toe, commonly referred to as hammertoes, also plague many people. These unsightly deformities develop from our inherited foot type, the way we walk and other reasons.
The primary goal of most early treatment options is to relieve pressure and halt the progression of the joint deformity. Commonly used techniques include:
- Padding and taping to minimize pain
- Medication to ease the pain and inflammation
- Orthotics (shoe inserts) to control foot function and reduce symptoms
When conservative treatments fail or the deformity progresses past the threshold for such options, surgery may be necessary to relieve pressure and repair the toe joint. Newer, more advanced techniques help minimize post-operative discomfort and promote a quicker recovery.
Summer is a great time to get outside and become more active. However, increased activity level can lead to problems with our feet and ankles, particularly ankle sprains. Sometimes these “twists” can be serious and need to be treated as quickly as possible. You may need X-rays or advanced imaging studies, which can rule out broken bones, ligament or tissue damage and cartilage damage in the foot and ankle.
To help your feet or ankles heal, rest is particularly important. You may need to wear a protective brace or ankle support. Occasionally the foot and ankle will be immobilized in a soft or hard cast so that healing can occur more rapidly. In addition, anti-inflammatory medications will probably be suggested to reduce swelling and pain.
Numerous studies have shown that physical therapy is instrumental to a full recovery. Early functional treatment provides the fastest recovery of ankle mobility and earliest return to work and physical activity without affecting late mechanical stability. There are four essential therapy components:
- Range of motion exercises and calf stretches
- Muscle strengthening exercises
- Advanced balance training
- Gradual return to full activity
Feet aren’t supposed to hurt. If they do, finding out why and curing it right away can make this season even more enjoyable.
For more information
If you would like more information about foot and ankle care or would like an appointment, please call Dr. Miller’s office at (773) 202-8800.