Do You Have These Symptoms? Four Signs You Have a Plantar Plate Tear

Posted by on Wednesday, October 31st, 2012

Remember when we talked about how Washington Redskins wide receiver Pierre Garcon was out with a sprained toe capsule? Yeah, that was fun. Not so fun, though, is the new diagnosis Garcon received after seeing a foot specialist: he has a plantar plate tear that may require season-ending surgery

NBA Stars – They’re Just Like Us: Deron Williams’s Ankle Pain

Posted by on Tuesday, October 30th, 2012

Deron Williams’s ankle means a lot to me.

You know who Deron Williams is, right? Starting point guard for the Brooklyn Nets? Okay, let me explain.

For every fan who has seen his or her favorite team win over and over, there are probably fifty more who look at their team and wistfully wonder, “Will it ever be our turn?” Now here’s an extra layer of agony to throw on top of decades of dogged losing: what if you win and no one cares?

That happened to me. As a longtime fan of the New Jersey Nets, I was used to beginning every season with hope at the draft (“Maybe Yinka Dare is the answer!”) then watching as hope crumbled into a nightly display of ineptitude. Injuries, carelessness, stupidity, coaches who looked like they were hoping to be fired, yup, those were our Nets. The litany of Nets’ disasters and missteps was almost awe-inspiring, especially the incredible run of draft day errors . Longtime Nets play by play man Ian Eagle could have delivered a speech worthy of an experienced keynote speaker about remaining upbeat amidst futility in his sleep.

Then came the magical seasons of 2001-2002 and 2002-2003. Suddenly the Nets were good–REALLY good. They were exciting to watch. They made it to the finals twice. Okay, they lost both times, but it’s hard to complain when you’re one of two last teams standing, especially when the seasons were such fun rides.

But here was the problem–in the New York area, the crickets were louder than the buzz around the team (fyi: I’ve lived in Manhattan for fifteen years, and I’ve never heard a cricket). The media dismissed the team with, “Wait until the schedule gets tough…wait until the league sees them a second time…wait until the playoffs when they face real competition…” When the crash never came and the success became too obvious to ignore,  the coverage switched to moaning about, “If only this was the Knicks…We’d care if it was the Knicks…The Knicks belong in championship games, not the Nets.” Worst of all, playoff games didn’t sell out. When talk show hosts said, “No one cares about the Nets,” it was hard to argue otherwise.

So though I am a Jersey girl, who fell for the team when I was a kid and thought it was cool  to see team uniforms with NJ on them, I couldn’t complain when it was announced a few years ago that the team was moving to a glitzy new arena in Brooklyn. I couldn’t say that my home state had treated them right or ever embraced them, so moving made sense. And it least it was still the New York area, not Winnipeg or something like that.

Now finally after years of protests, controversy, construction, and some “thanks for the memories” brutally losing seasons,  the team is about to open the new year on Thursday in their sparkling new arena, with a rebuilt roster that NBA analysts are calling one of the most improved in the league and a contender for a playoff spot.

All of this hinges on Williams, the most talented player on the team. It’s very simple: if Williams plays, there’s hope; if he doesn’t, there isn’t.  So when I heard late last week that he was going to sit out of practice for a few days due to an ankle condition, my heart sank. To borrow a phrase often applied to the other two “-ets” teams in town, “Same old Nets.”

Then I heard that Williams had ankle synovitis and I felt better. Certainly I would prefer it if he didn’t have any ankle issue, but as ankle troubles go, this could be worse. Let me explain.

Your joints are coated with a sheath of tissue called the synovium or synovial membrane. This protects the joint and helps it move smoothly. Just like any soft tissue, though, the synovium can become irritated and inflamed. This could happen if there’s another injury in the area that has caused swelling, which then presses on the synovium. There could also be loose bodies or fragments that push on the synovium, causing pain and stiffness. Ankle synovitis is typically caused by another traumatic, or sudden ankle injury, as noted above, or repetitive use. Think of how basketball players run and jump, and it’s easy to see how this kind of injury can happen.

Here are some symptoms of ankle synovitis:

  • pain on the front or sides of the ankle, especially when flexing your foot (like you do on every step);
  • pain that’s worse first thing in the morning, or after you’ve been sitting for a period of time;
  • pain when walking on sloped or uneven surfaces;
  • stiffness and possibly swelling.

If you have any of these symptoms, then you should see a podiatrist at The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine (212.996.1900 ) for an accurate diagnosis and to discuss a treatment plan.

And what would that treatment be? It starts with rest, hence the days off William got last week. The key is to rest it until it’s really healed, otherwise there’s a risk of recurrence. Williams got a cortisone shot, which immediately relieves pain but doesn’t cure it; hopefully Williams took enough time for the inflammation to really go down, but he was back at practice this weekend, which doesn’t really seem like enough time. I wouldn’t be surprised if he plays in the season opener on Thursday, then sits out one or two of the next few games (I’m feeling rather pessimistic).

Recovery may also include physical therapy and orthotics, if a biomechanical issue is putting pressure on the synovium. Williams mentioned the possibility of surgery in the offseason (oh, great…), but I assume he just means arthroscopic surgery to remove the bone spurs that are causing the irritation. That should be minor. I hope.

Between their size and their running and jumping, basketball players are always one step away from ankle and foot injuries. Hopefully the centerpiece of your team doesn’t suffer one–well, unless they’re playing the Nets. Then I wish your team ill. Just kidding! Sort of.

Six Easy Ways to Help with Forefoot Fat Pad Loss Pain

Posted by on Monday, October 29th, 2012

We’ve talked about losing fat in the pad that cushions your heel, but guess what? There’s another part of your foot that can also thin out. Today let’s find out about the fat pad on the ball of your foot and how that can get thinner.

What You Need to Know About Maurice Jones-Drew’s Foot Sprain and 3 Fantasy Replacements

Posted by on Friday, October 26th, 2012

Let’s talk about a big foot injury from week seven’s NFL games!

The incredibly durable and productive Maurice Jones-Drew of the Jacksonville Jaguars left last Sunday’s game with a foot injury, ending a solid run as one of the league’s most reliable running backs.

At first there was some fear that he had suffered the dreaded Lisfranc injury, which is kind of funny–now anytime someone hurts his foot, everyone starts shrieking “Lisfranc! He’s done!” (In case you need a quick review, the Lisfranc complex is a group of bones and ligaments located in your midfoot that act as a connector between your ankle bones and your metatarsal bones. Damaging bones or ligaments in the Lisfranc complex typically requires a long recovery period.).

However, just as we had last week with DeMarco Murray, Jones-Drew’s injury is being called a foot sprain, with no plans for surgery as would be common with a Lisfranc (at least so far–there’s still some possibility that after the swelling goes down, they could discover a Lisfranc problem). Now that’s no picnic–it’s hard to predict how long a foot sprain will take for it to heal, especially when they don’t reveal the exact location or severity of the sprain.

This is what we heard from Jags coach Mike Mularkey:

“Maurice is, uh … he’s got a foot. Again, dealing with the feet. He is probably gonna be out. I can’t tell you the extent of time, but I can tell you he’ll be out this game.”

Indeed, he has a foot–which is something we at Healing Feet find pretty awesome.

Nevertheless, it doesn’t tell us a lot about the injury or how long he’ll be out beyond this week against Green Bay. I don’t know if he’ll be back for Detroit the following week, either; MJD is pretty tough, so I can imagine him trying to talk his way back into a game, but a sprained foot will make it hard to be 100% effective. With little else that’s appealing about this team, though, the Jags have to hope that Jones-Drew is back soon and not out so long that he’ll have time to become fluent in Mandarin, learn to play the cello, or become the team’s resident SQL expert.

Fantasy Impact The obvious choice for a replacement  is Rashad Jennings, who will take Jones-Drew’s carries while he’s out, but he’s only available in 24% of Yahoo! Leagues. The reason he probably isn’t more owned is because people forget about Jacksonville. Jennings may not be great, but at least you know will be getting plenty of work, especially with Jacksonville QB Blaine Gabbert also dealing with an injured left shoulder.

Another option is Vick Ballard of the Colts. They’re playing against Tennessee with its weak rushing defense, and Ballard was decent last week filling in for Donald Brown. Ballard’s available in 60% of Yahoo! leagues, so you at least have a chance of picking him up.

Giant running back Ahmad Bradshaw sat out of practice this week; he plays hard, but he’s always a little banged up. They might give some carries to Andre Brown, who made a splash for the Giants earlier this year. He’s available in almost 50% of Yahoo! leagues and might be worth picking up if you need someone to fill in for Jones-Drew or any of your backs who are out on a bye.

Presumably you’re not getting paid large sums of money to run from very large men like Jones-Drew is, so there’s no reason for you to rush through an injury. If you suspect you have a foot sprain, or any other kind of foot injury, don’t hesitate–contact a podiatrist at The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine (212.996.1900) to get a diagnosis and develop a treatment plan.

Everything You Need to Know About Maurice Jones-Drew’s Foot Sprain and Three Fantasy Replacements

Posted by on Friday, October 26th, 2012

Let’s talk about a big foot injury from week seven’s NFL games!

The incredibly durable and productive Maurice Jones-Drew of the Jacksonville Jaguars left last Sunday’s game with a foot injury, ending a solid run as one of the league’s most reliable running backs.

The Surprising Secret to Better Feet: Healthy Big Toes and How to Get Them

Posted by on Thursday, October 25th, 2012

Our big toes may seem little compared to, say, our heads, but they do a huge amount of work. The big toe bears twice as much pressure when walking as the other toes and the big toe joint takes 40-60% of the your body’s weight when maximum force is applied. Your big toe also can have an impressive range of motion–you can pick things up with your big toe, and gymnasts are able to execute some of their more impressive moves thanks to the way they can grip with the digit (I love referring to toes and fingers as digits, don’t you?).

Now that we’ve established the importance of your big toe, I’m sure you can understand how demoralizing it is when you have an injury that affects it. Some common big toe issues include:

  • Bunions
  • Bursitis
  • Arthritis
  • Gout
  • Sesamoiditis
  • Turf Toe

So what can you do to keep your big toe healthy? Here are some tips:

Choose the Right Shoes So many big toe problems come from shoes that don’t fit or don’t match the shape of your foot. When you try on shoes, you should have about a half inch of space from the tip of your big toe to the top of the shoe (unless your second toe is longer than your big toe; in that case, measure to fit that toe). If it’s more space than that, your toes will have too much room to bang around the toe box of the shoe. If it’s less, your toe will be squashed. Not sure if your shoe fits? Try this video about choosing the right size shoes. You can also prepare yourself for a trip to the shoe store with these instructions for measuring your feet.

Speaking of squashed, there are plenty of shoes out there that are built to squeeze your toes into an unnatural shape. Yes, we’re talking about you, pointy-toed stilettos. Your feet are not shaped like triangles, so trying to force them into triangle-shaped shoes is only going to cause pain and injury. Look for shoes that allow your big toe–all of your toes, really–to lie flat and wiggle around a bit. This will save you so much trouble. I know, you think, “Stilettos make my legs look sexy.” I hope you also think bunions like this one look sexy, then.

See How You Run Have you noticed that there’s a hole where the tip of your big toe meets the top of your running shoes? You may  be curling your toe when you run, which then causes your toe to wear out the fabric of the shoe. This can lead to pain, stiffness, and corns on the top of your toe–not to mention shoes that are worn out much too early. Try to pay attention to how your toe feels next time you run. If you do think you’re curling them, concentrate on relaxing them. If you’re having trouble fixing the problem, see a podiatrist at The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine (212.996.1900) or a running coach for a gait analysis to get some help with your curly toe.

Get Some Exercise Yes, there are exercises that you can do to improve your big toe’s strength and flexibility, especially if you’ve had a toe injury or suffer from toe stiffness or lack of flexibility

  • Put your foot flat on the floor. Flex your big toe as high as you can and hold it there for about ten seconds. Do this three to five times. If you’re having trouble flexing your toe, pull it up with your fingers. After doing the exercise this way for a week or two, see if you can begin to flex it and hold it without the aid of your hand. It may take some time, but you’ll get there.
  • Keep your foot flat on the floor. Curl your big toe under and hold it for about ten seconds. Repeat three to five times. Again, if you’re having trouble getting started, use your hand to help your toe curl.
  • Sit in a chair and put a towel on the floor in front of you, about one to two feet away. Using your big toe, pull the towel towards you, then push it back to where you started, also with your big toe. Repeat three times.
    [Thanks to Livestrong for exercise recommendations.]

There you go, some easy ways to make sure you keep your big toe in top shape. We need our big toes–pay attention to them!

The Surprising Secret to Better Feet: Healthy Big Toes and How to Get Them

Posted by on Thursday, October 25th, 2012

Our big toes may seem little compared to, say, our heads, but they do a huge amount of work. The big toe bears twice as much pressure when walking as the other toes and the big toe joint takes 40-60% of the your body’s weight when maximum force is applied. Your big toe also can have an impressive range of motion–you can pick things up with your big toe, and gymnasts are able to execute some of their more impressive moves thanks to the way they can grip with the digit (I love referring to toes and fingers as digits, don’t you?).

Are You Afraid of Morton’s Neuroma Surgery? Then Neurolysis Might Be For You

Posted by on Wednesday, October 24th, 2012

When we talk about nerves, we can talk about them in a variety of ways.

“The nerve of her to show up at the wedding after what happened with Brian!”

That means nerves so tough that the nervy one doesn’t care who she hurts or what people think. Same for “He must have some nerve to ask me for a reference after what he said at the office holiday party!” See? Tough nerves, nerves of steel.

“That sound is getting on my nerves!”

As much as we may use the “cold as ice,” “hard as a rock” version of “nerve” to describe people, this “getting on my nerves” picture is more accurate–after all, nerves are sensitive. They feel, they get agitated, they tell our brains about the good and bad things affecting our bodies.

A Morton’s neuroma is one of those bad things.

What? A bad thing? And it’s such a lovely name. I know, but sadly they are very unpleasant things. Just a quick refresher: a neuroma is a piece of nerve tissue that has thickened. You can have a neuroma anywhere in your body–for example, an acoustic neuroma is found in your ear. One of the most common types is a Morton’s neuroma, or intermetatarsal neuroma, which is found between your third and fourth toe. The symptoms include: feeling like you have a bump or knot  in the ball of your foot; tingling and numbness in the ball of your foot; pain in the ball of your foot.

Well, what do you do about these things? Ah ha–that’s our topic for the day. A podiatrist at The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine (212.996.1900) will start with a conservative approach. You’ll be told to avoid shoes that pinch or squash your toes, to ice the painful area, to stay away from activities that agitate the nerve until the pain goes away, to take an anti-inflammatory like ibuprofen, and to wear padding or custom orthotics that can take the pressure off the ball of your foot.

If that doesn’t work, your podiatrist may give you a cortisone shot to relieve the pain and inflammation. The most extreme step is a surgical procedure to remove the nerve.

If you don’t want to have surgery, though, there is another option: chemical neurolysis.

What is neurolysis? It sounds like a word used to describe an insecure, needy person. Not even close–chemical neurolysis is a procedure that can be used to destroy the painful neuroma.

Treatment of a neuroma with chemical neurolysis means that you will get a series of injections of ethanol mixed with anesthesia. The ethanol destroys the neuroma little by little until it is gone. This usually takes about five to seven injections, with a gap of about ten days in between. The success rate of pain relief from neuromas through chemical neurolysis is very good, about 61%-89%.

If you take seven treatments with ten days in-between, you’re looking at a period of about two and a half to three months before the pain is gone, which may not seem that much different from the time it would take to recover from surgery. However, there are a lot of differences in how easy that time period would be for you. Surgery means cutting open your foot, which means the exposure of nerves that cause pain and the risk of infection. You’ll need stitches and probably painkillers for a few days. You won’t be able to put any weight on your foot for a considerable period of time while the wound heals.

With neurolysis, on the other hand, you may feel some pain the day after an injection, but you definitely will be able to put weight on your foot and do most of your normal activities; there will be much less disruption in your life than you would have from surgery. You can practically do all your treatments on your lunch hour. Additionally, there’s no risk of infection and no stitches to deal with. Really, the traditional surgery is about as much fun as doing your taxes, but neurolysis is like, well, having someone offer to do your taxes for you!

If you have a Morton’s neuroma, then your podiatrist can talk to you about the best options for your treatment and whether neurolysis is right for you. The important thing is to do something–your sensitive little nerve is trying to tell you that it needs help. The nerve of it!

Are You Afraid of Morton’s Neuroma Surgery? Then Neurolysis Might Be For You

Posted by on Wednesday, October 24th, 2012

When we talk about nerves, we can talk about them in a variety of ways.

“The nerve of her to show up at the wedding after what happened with Brian!”

That means nerves so tough that the nervy one doesn’t care who she hurts or what people think. Same for “He must have some nerve to ask me for a reference after what he said at the office holiday party!” See? Tough nerves, nerves of steel.

“That sound is getting on my nerves!”

As much as we may use the “cold as ice,” “hard as a rock” version of “nerve” to describe people, this “getting on my nerves” picture is more accurate–after all, nerves are sensitive. They feel, they get agitated, they tell our brains about the good and bad things affecting our bodies.

Five Frightening Foot Problems

Posted by on Tuesday, October 23rd, 2012

When you dressed up for Halloween, did you dress scary? My family took the costume part of Halloween very seriously so there were no quickly thrown together zombie costumes or plain monster masks in our house. Before Halloween, my artsy craftsy mom, dad, and older sisters broke out the sewing kits, craft supplies, and paint with the professionalism of a movie production staff and didn’t let go until we all had really high-quality costumes. One year I was a World War I flying ace; another year I was a medieval archer–and whenever anyone said, “Oh, look, Robin Hood,” I snobbily replied, “No, I’m just a medieval archer.” Yes, I was that kind of kid.

Many people love to go the scary route, though, which can be great if you’re handy with makeup. But do you know what’s scarier than someone decked out with a bleeding head wound and brains spilling out their ears, though? Some of the foot conditions I’ve written about over the last nine months or so.

In the spirit of the season, then, I present to you Five Frightening Foot Conditions:

  • Bunions Yes, I know, we talk about these all the time, but that’s because they’re so problematic and so common. A quick review–when your big toe is forced inward and your first metatarsal bone is pushed outward, an unsightly bump forms at the base of your big toe joint. This is a bunion. A bunion can be painful on its own when you try to walk on it, and it can also rub against the inside of your shoe and turn red and raw. Causes of bunions include genetics, poor biomechanics, and most commonly, wearing high heels. Here’s the scary part: bunions are ugly, surgery to correct them is painful, and worst of all, bunions are related to numerous other foot problems.
  • Hammer, Claw, and Mallet Toes Your toes are not supposed to resemble a tool used for pounding nails, but sometimes things can go dreadfully wrong and your straight happy little toes can turn into hooked monsters. Hammer, claw, and mallet toes are all conditions where your toe has become permanently bent at one of the joints. They often occur in people who have bunions (!!) or wear shoes that are too tight in the toe box. The extra scary part? Your bent toe can rub against the top of your shoe and develop corns.
  • Cracked Heels This means, quite literally, cracks around your heels. People who have diabetes, super dry skin, or vitamin deficiencies may be prone to developing cracks around their heels. The most common cause, though, is being overweight, which puts too much pressure on the skin of your feet. The scariest part? They can really crack open into deep fissures, bleed, and get infected.
  • Verrucas These are warts found on the soles of your feet, also known as plantar warts. What’s scary? They’re highly contagious and you can catch them easily, especially if you’re in a setting where there’s water. If you’re at your hotel pool, lounging in the sun on your dream vacation, look over and see that the person next to you has warts on the soles of their feet, run (but put on shoes first).
  • Crossover Toe Deformity This is where your second toe drifts over so that it permanently lies across your big toe. What causes it? Fallen arches, tight calf muscles, a long second toe, and of course, bunions. What’s so scary about it? Well, I just think it’s really ugly–and I worry that it will happen to me.

So there you go, your nightmare feet conditions! If horror movies and zombie costumes don’t scare you, then maybe these will!