Diabetes

Diabetes is a chronic illness that has multiple types but is related to the body’s inability to process sugar in the bloodstream due to a patient’s inability to properly utilize or manufacture the chemical known as insulin. As far as type 1 diabetes, it is unknown what the cause is at this time, but type 2 diabetes has been linked to obesity. Some symptoms of diabetes are blurry vision, excess thirst, fatigue, frequent urination, hunger, and weight loss. Diabetes is a very serious disease because it can very easily lead to a number of other medical issues in the patient’s life including the failure of one’s kidneys and limb amputation.

Diabetes if left uncontrolled and untreated can severely damage the body. The high levels of sugar in one’s blood can damage their nerves. This nerve damage is most commonly associated with a patient’s feet and causes them to lose their sense of pain when it comes to the affected area. This means that whenever an injury occurs to the foot of someone afflicted with diabetes, they might not be able to tell that they have been injured since they cannot feel the pain. While the lack of feeling pain may sound like a bonus to some, they must also realize that pain tells us when we are hurt so that we can care for the affected body part instead of continuing to use it normally which would inhibit the body’s efforts to heal the affected area.

The nerve damage caused by diabetes also inhibits blood and oxygen flow to the feet which slow the healing process down substantially. If a person has diabetes and smokes, it is a good idea to cease smoking immediately because smoking decreases the blood flow to one’s feet. The effect of diabetes on the healing process makes it so that the tiniest cuts or punctures can turn into skin ulcers that continue to get wider and deeper, which in turn get infected more easily and then lead to a necessity for amputation of the affected limb. Even with all of these daunting symptoms caused by diabetes, with regular care from one’s physician and podiatrist and a bit of vigilance from the patient, one can easily lead a long healthy life with diabetes.

Wound Care

Wounds can be classified in any number of ways.  Some common examples of these classifications are lacerations, bruising or even ulcerations.  For all people, under the right circumstances, the smallest cut if left uncared for can become a life-threatening injury.  When diabetes is added to the mixture, proper wound care becomes an imperative part of life.

When dealing with wound care the first step in caring for any injury is to simply assess the situation and determine the severity of the wound.  For small cuts and abrasions, it is very possible that one could easily care for the wound themselves.  If on the other hand the wound is deep enough to see muscle or bone, or an overabundance of bleeding occurs, one’s best course of action is to seek professional help.  If the wound seems manageable, then the next course of action is to make sure that the affected area is cleaned.  Some ways to clean the area would be to rinse the area with a mild soap and water solution or disinfect the area with an alcohol or hydrogen peroxide solution.  After it is cleaned, make sure to dry the wound and then cover it with clean gauze.

At this point, most people would consider their wound properly cared for, but this is only the beginning.  As the wound heals one must pay attention to the healing process and make sure that the wound continues to stay clean and dry and also that it is healing properly.   Change the bandages and check the wound on a regular basis to make sure that it is not showing signs of redness, or excreting yellow drainage.  If the wound shows those symptoms it indicates that it could be infected.  If that should occur the best course of action would be to seek professional help.

Remember, those with diabetes tend to heal slower and because of this their small wounds can turn into serious injuries in much less time.  Any small wounds on the feet, for example, can easily turn into an ulcer, and that ulcer can grow to a point of infection which then can lead to the necessity to amputate the foot.  Proper wound care can leave someone affected with diabetes the ability to continue walking on their own.  Also, if anyone is ever unsure about whether or not they can properly care for a wound on their own, there is no harm in consulting a professional for their opinion on any matter regarding one’s health.

Ingrown Toenails

Ingrown toenails are a common nail impairment caused when the nail begins to cut into and embed itself painfully into the toe.  Some symptoms of this affliction include pain along the margins of the nail, and a sensitivity to pressure along the nail, even slight pressures such as socks or bedsheets.  This sensitivity can develop into an excruciating pain that occurs whenever the affected area is bumped or has pressure on it.  The injury can also easily become infected, and when diabetes is an issue, this infection could easily spiral into a situation in which the toe must be amputated or even the whole foot.

Some common causes of ingrown toenails are bad nail care, ill-fitting shoes, any kind of injury to the toe, a genetic complication or bacterial infection.  When looking at the list above one can easily see that it is hard to avoid genetic predispositions, and toe injuries happen from time to time, but proper nail care and proper footwear are simple steps that anyone can take to ensure that they do not get affected by an ingrown toenail.

When it comes to proper nail care, cutting the nails too short can become a problem.  Also, the cutting implement used can become a factor.  The angle at which the nail is cut affects which direction the nail begins to grow again.  So, if the nail is constantly cut in a manner that is not straight across and at an incorrect angle, the nail will naturally tend to curve either upwards or into the flesh of the toe.  When cutting one’s nails, the cut must be even on both the top and bottom of the nail and not rounded off at the tip. When it comes to footwear, it is imperative that one wear shoes that are comfortable and do not cause bunching of the toes.

When it comes to treating an ingrown toenail, the severity of the injury becomes paramount.  Should the toenail be caught in its early stages the affliction can be treated with simple warm water soaks and antibacterial ointment.

Toenail Fungus

Toenail fungus is a condition which is also known as onychomycosis and it does not deal specifically with toenails, but all nails with the toenails being the most commonly infected.  This condition is the result of a fungal infection that occurs most commonly when the nails are subjected for an extended period of time to an environment that increases the chance of fungal growth, i.e. a humid or moist environment.  While in the early stages this condition is not particularly threatening if allowed to continue uncontested toenail fungus can cause the skin underneath and around the nail to become inflamed and begin to hurt.  This condition will also weaken the strength of the nail over time and cause it to be more brittle.

Some symptoms of toenail fungus include the nail becoming thickened and discolored and more advanced symptoms include the nail becoming brittle and breaking off or coming off of the toe entirely.  These symptoms present themselves so slowly that toenail fungus can be present for many years before being diagnosed due to the affected areas not causing pain.

Treatment of toenail fungus requires different medications, so seeing a professional is highly recommended if one suspects that they are suffering from this malady.  Some treatments could call for a systemic antifungal medication or a topical solution which will work to kill the fungus that is infecting the nail.  Patients with diabetes who suspect that they are affected by nail fungus should seek help from a professional as soon as possible due to this fungal infection also inviting a risk of more serious infections throughout the body in those whose immune systems are suppressed; which diabetes does to the immune system.

Corns, Calluses and Warts

A callus is a toughened area of skin which has become thick and hard due to repeated friction or other irritation.  These occur as the body’s method of protecting itself from the repeated stress that the part of the body where the callus forms are subjected to.  For example, those who play stringed instruments tend to develop calluses on their fingers.  Calluses are mostly harmless in and of themselves are even considered helpful by some.

Corns, on the other hand, are less desirable.  Corns are a specially shaped callus that tends to form on the hairless and smooth skin surfaces of the body, i.e. parts of the toes or fingers.  Corns occur when a constant pressure or rubbing irritates the affected areas in an elliptical or semi-elliptical way.  These over time have more of a tendency to become painful and even cause skin ulceration. Treatment of both corns and calluses can be carried out by filing the dead skin down with a pumice stone or a callus shaver or in some cases by a podiatrist.

Those with diabetes must be more mindful of callus and corn formation on their skin due to the buildup of dead skin making it harder for the body to supply proper nutrients to the skin.  The stiffness of the callus or corn on the foot combined with the pressure that causes it has a possibility of tearing capillaries or adjoining tissue around the callus which then can cause bleeding which then opens the body up to the chance of infection, which could then lead to amputation of the affected limb.

Warts are caused by a variant of the human papillomavirus which can be picked up from any number of sources though generally enter the body through an area of broken skin.  Warts appear in many types and can be treated through a surgical procedure, a procedure involving applying a topical acid solution, or even freezing the area of skin using liquid nitrogen or some other source.  The disadvantage to any of these procedures, of course, lies in the fact that eventually, the wart could reappear.

Heel Pain

Because it is the largest bone in the foot and also home to a large network of tendons, the heel can become the host of a number of foot-related problems.  Heel pain can have multiple causes because of the above fact.  One such cause is known as plantar fasciitis which is a condition in which the tight tissue that makes up the arch of the foot becomes inflamed and irritated.  This condition is caused by an overabundance of stress being placed upon the tissue.  Those who are highly athletic, i.e. runners, commonly experience plantar fasciitis, also those with a high body mass index also tend to be susceptible to this condition.  Treatments for this condition range from massage/stretching to surgery depending on the severity.

The second cause of heel pain could be the result of a heel spur.  Heel spurs occur, also when a heel is subjected to constant stress.  This stress causes calcium deposits to build on the bottom of the bone and as these deposits build onto each other they eventually form a spur-shaped deformity on the bottom of the heel which will then cause pain to the surrounding areas of the heel any time pressure is placed upon it.  Treatments for this condition mainly rely on strengthening the calves and legs as well as using orthotic inserts, obtaining better shoes and changing exercise habits which should, in turn, remove stress from the heel, allowing the condition to heal itself.

Other forms of heel pain can come from stress fractures to the heel bone itself, or even a condition known as tarsal tunnel syndrome wherein a large nerve in the foot becomes entrapped or pinched.  These two symptoms have a similar cure which includes rest, adequate muscle stretching and strengthening of the muscles in the foot to reduce the chances of receiving a stress injury.  In any instances of heel pain, it is recommended to see a podiatrist to obtain a diagnosis on the cause of the pain since these causes can be many and varied.

Arch Pain

Arch pain deals with any symptoms which affect the arch of the foot, which is comprised of a tight band of tissue which stretches from the toes to the heel and is necessary for the proper transfer of weight from heel to toe.  Arch pain tends to share a few causes with heel pain, one of these causes being plantar fasciitis.  Plantar fasciitis is a condition in which the band of tissue that makes up the arch of the foot becomes inflamed due to being subjected to a large or constant amount of stress, i.e. an extended period of walking.  Any person who subjects the arch of their feet to repeated strain is at risk of developing plantar fasciitis, though this condition tends to be more common in middle-aged men and women.

Another cause of arch pain is a condition known as tarsal tunnel syndrome.  Tarsal tunnel syndrome happens when the tibial nerve which runs through the ankle becomes pinched.  Though this condition is normally confined in the ankle since the tibial nerve proceeds through the entire foot the arch can also become affected by the pain caused by the condition.  The exact cause of tarsal tunnel syndrome is hard to pinpoint but anything that would increase pressure in the tarsal tunnel could be the culprit and repeated and prolonged stress is most likely another factor in developing the condition.

As far as treatment for both of these ailments goes, they share a common theme.  The best way to treat both injuries involves removing the stress placed on the foot and arch.  Some ways of doing this would be obtaining orthotic inserts or even new more comfortably fitting shoes.  Also, stretching of the tissues in the arch and strengthening of the legs and calves will help to remove stress from the arch of the foot.

Foot and Ankle Injuries

Foot and ankle injuries can have a considerable impact on day to day life. These injuries can range from broken bones to sprains and wounds. Yet even a mild sprain if untreated can cause further injury and prolong the healing process.

Bunions

A bunion is caused by the big toe pressing against the interior toes. This causes the joint to swell outward and away from its normal position. Often caused by heredity or wearing tight-fitting shoes, bunions can be extremely painful. Over time the awkward position created by the big toe enlarges the joint and bunion further.

Athlete’s Foot

Also known as Tinea Pedis, athlete’s foot is caused by a fungal infection of the skin. The same fungus may cause ringworm on other parts of the body. Athlete’s foot is easily transmitted and can be contracted by touching an infected person’s foot or by walking barefoot on affected floors such as showers or locker rooms. Symptoms include itching, soreness, or peeling and cracked feet.

Achilles Tendon

The Achilles tendon stretches from the heel of the foot to the calf muscle. It is located behind the ankle and above the heel. Injuries to the Achilles tendon are common and varied. Tendonitis is the most frequent injury, which is characterized by an inflammation of the tendon and can cause mild to severe discomfort.

Fractures of the Foot

A variety of fractures ranging in degree and severity can occur in the foot. Broken toes are among the most common foot fractures. Fractures typically take 3-8 weeks to heal, though the pain will subside more rapidly. Proper treatment and follow up care of a fractured foot is crucial to the proper repair of the bones.

Peripheral Vascular Disease (PVD) – related foot problems

Peripheral Vascular Disease (PVD), also known as peripheral arterial disease (PAD) or peripheral artery occlusive disease (PAOD), is an ailment which refers to a condition where large arteries not within the heart or brain become obstructed.  This condition causes a lack of blood supply to the affected areas which in turn causes those limbs to experience a number of different symptoms.  Symptoms of PVD include pain or weakness in the muscles, wounds or ulcers that heal slowly, diminished hair and nail growth on the affected limb/digits and a noticeable change in color/temperature on the affected limb when compared to other limbs.  While this disease can affect all of the limbs, it most commonly occurs in the legs and feet.

Peripheral Vascular Disease can be caused by a number of different factors.  Those who smoke run the risk of developing PVD due to the effect of tobacco on the blood vessel lining.  Diabetes is another cause of PVD thanks to the cell dysfunction caused by the disease.  Another cause of PVD occurs when people have either high blood pressure or high LDL cholesterol count.  Any combination of the above factors increases the chances that a patient will develop peripheral vascular disease by a great deal.

As far as treatment of PVD goes, most of it lies with getting one’s body back into better shape.  First off, smokers should work to cease smoking to take that factor out of the occasion.  Those with diabetes must make sure to manage their disease as well as they can.  Those with high cholesterol and/or high blood pressure should work to bring these levels more under control with changes to diet and exercise.  For all of the above patients, a regular exercise schedule should be introduced into their lives which will help to open up their arteries and allow regular blood flow once more.  In extreme cases, a vascular or endovascular surgeon may have to operate to solve the issue.

Peripheral vascular disease is a very serious condition that should not be taken lightly. With or without treatment, those with PVD have an increased risk of having a cardiovascular or cerebrovascular event.  There is also a risk that some patients will require amputation of the affected limbs due to PVD.  If one suspects that they have this disease, they should contact a health professional immediately and discuss their options for treatment.

Worker’s Compensation Injuries

Workers compensation injuries are injuries which occur within the workplace and are paid for by the employer or the employer’s insurer. Workers compensation may cover any number of workplace injuries, however typically does not cover compensation for negligence or punitive damages.

Custom Made Molded Orthotics

Custom Made Molded Orthotics refers to the creation of foot orthotics. Orthotics are pieces of material custom molded to the unique shape of an individual’s foot. These orthotics are placed into one’s shoes and provide balance and cushioning for the foot. Orthotics may be used to treat several conditions.

Personal Injury

Personal injury is a legal term referring to any injury to the body or mind and often involves a legal suit. Personal injury suits typically allege the negligence of the plaintiff.

Nail and Skin Conditions of Feet

Nail and skin conditions of the feet are varied and numerous causing a wide range of symptoms. Fungal and bacterial infections are common and easily transmitted. Other conditions include bunions, dry skin, hammer toe, ingrown toenails, tendonitis, and corns. Each of these conditions is treatable by a podiatrist.

Ankle Pain

Ankles support the weight of the body and provide a range of mobility and agility to the step. Host to several muscles and tendons, the ankle may be easily injured and pain is common. Pain may vary from moderate to severe. Ankle pain may indicate a serious problem and should be evaluated by a doctor.

Foot Care

Flat feet, high arches, hammer toe, bunions, or neuropathy. Any number of foot conditions may develop over the span of one’s life. These foot troubles can cause considerable pain or worse. Yet, each of these diagnoses and several more can be treated by a podiatrist. Foot care is a regular part of maintaining your overall physical health.

Diabetic Foot Care

The feet are particularly important limbs easily affected by diabetes, which must be properly cared for. For this reason, regular check-ups with your podiatrist and consistent and informed foot care are crucial. Be sure to wash your feet regularly, wear thick and clean socks, and check your feet for fresh wounds or cuts daily. Several state-of-the-art treatments have been developed specifically for the diabetic foot.