If you’re relatively healthy, your dietary choices are instrumental in helping you to maintain—and perhaps even improve—your health. If you have diabetes, though, those dietary choices are absolutely essential for reducing your risk of serious medical issues.
Even more than that, smart dietary habits may even be able to reverse dangerous conditions caused by diabetes!
For a couple of different reasons, diabetes is a particularly alarming disease. Before we jump into a look at the reasons it is so concerning for an individual, let’s take a quick look at a broader perspective – specifically, the prominence of the disease in our society.
At present, according to estimates from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) there are over 29 million people in the United States who have diabetes. This number is disturbing in and of itself, but there’s more to the story!
Alarmingly, out of the 29 million who already have diabetes, the CDC reports that approximately one out of every four people with the disease are undiagnosed and do not actually know he or she has it. On top of that, there is a condition known as prediabetes—which is a situation wherein blood sugar levels are elevated, but not quite to the point of diabetes yet (basically, individuals who are on the cusp of the disease)-and over 86 million people fall into this category.
Clearly, this is a big issue in our society. But how does diabetes actually affect the human body, and why would a podiatrist be so interested in talking about this?
Diabetes is a condition that develops when there is excessive blood sugar. This can happen when not enough insulin is produced (Type 1) or the body is unable to use insulin effectively (Type II). Insulin is a hormone that allows the body to properly utilize sugar (glucose).
The excess glucose in the blood can cause problems for most of the body’s organs and nerves, thereby rendering essential systems ineffective (or at least reducing their normal capabilities).
To the second point—why a podiatrist would talk about this particular disease—there is a strong and dangerous connection between diabetes and foot health. You will see what we mean as we look further into this matter.
The systemic damage diabetes causes within the body contributes to heightened risk for issues like heart attacks, strokes, blindness, and kidney failure. Compared to these serious medical problems, foot health might not seem like a major concern – but it is dangerous to underestimate conditions like diabetic foot ulcers and Charcot foot!
Foot ulcers are essentially wounds that do not heal and continue to break down over time. This is caused by damage to the nervous and immune systems from the elevated sugar levels.
The problems often start with lack of sensation on account of diabetic neuropathy (nerve damage). If you are unable to feel a cut, scrape, ingrown toenail, etc., then you are unlikely to take measures that will aid in resolving the problem. Further, your body might not recognize the damage as well.
Since your immune system is unable to fight off infections, the risk for gangrene is particularly high. This is especially concerning because there is no cure for gangrene (tissue death) and the only way to prevent its spread is through amputation.
Charcot foot is a condition wherein feet become severely misshapen on account of repeated structural damage. More specifically, what happens is bones in the feet that are weakened break easily. Nerve damage leaves you unable to feel this is happening, so you continue normal activities – which contributes to additional damage.
The cycle continues until the foot is severely deformed. This is troubling enough on its own, but it can also raise your risk for foot ulcers.
Those are clearly some major reasons you need to have a diabetic foot care plan in place (and we can help you create one!). There are going to be a couple of pillars in your plan – including taking measures to manage the disease.
These are some obvious reasons to manage your diabetes and have a solid diabetic foot care plan in place. If you don’t already have one, we can help!
Medication and exercise play big roles in managing diabetes, but so too does adhering to a proper diet.
With regards to healthy diet choices, we are talking about:
This is a good starting point for diabetes-smart eating, but even better is consultation with medical professionals. We can make further recommendations, give advice, and even recommend dieticians who specialize in dietary plans for diabetic individuals.
For assistance with creating a diabetic foot care plan or understanding how to recognize problems at their earliest, most treatable stages, contact the office of Kevin J. Powers, DPM today!
Call (812) 333-4422 to connect with our Bloomington, IN office today!
No matter if you’ve been watching as many games as possible and tracking your office pool brackets—which are probably a complete mess at this point!—or barely have any interest, it’s almost impossible not to know that the Final Four tips off tomorrow (Saturday 3/31) at 6:09 PM (EST). The second game begins at 8:49, and the winners of the two games will compete for the championship on Monday at 9:20.
Before we go any further, who actually picks out these times? What’s wrong with starting a game on the hour or at the half-hour mark?
To this point in the tournament, there have been 64 games and college basketball fans have been treated to countless memorable moments and inspiring upset performances from underdogs – especially the historic first-round UMBC upset over #1-seeded Virginia!
The NCAA Men’s Division I Basketball Tournament receives its “March Madness” moniker on account of the unpredictable nature of the games. Teams that “aren’t supposed to” win do all the time in the annual tournament. This makes it rather maddening when you check out your office pool brackets and see that you’ve barely made any correct picks!
Something else that can be maddening is a pair of feet that won’t stop itching! In this case, there are several potential culprits, but the most likely explanation is athlete’s foot – a common fungal infection (tinea pedis).
Athlete’s foot is a condition caused by fungi in a classification known as dermatophytes. These microorganisms thrive in environments that are moist, dark, and warm, and they feed on a protein (keratin) found in nails, hair, and skin. As you can probably gather, this makes your feet an ideal place for the fungi to set up shop. When you feel an itchy, burning sensation on the surface of your foot, you can be quite confident that this is what is happening.
In spite of the name, this is not a condition that only happens to athletes or as a result of athletic participation. Instead, this is a common fungal infection that usually starts developing between your toes—areas which often create a hospitable environment for the offensive fungus—and then spreads out over the skin of your foot.
The fungus that causes the athlete’s foot is easily transmitted by contact, even from indirect sources like shoes, towels, and floors.
The various warning signs of tinea pedis may either be experienced individually or as a combination of symptoms. These often include:
Most cases of athlete’s foot—especially those that are mild or caught early—can be effectively treated at home. For a difficult infection, you may need professional assistance. If you do,
To improve your chances of successful home care for athlete’s foot, you need to recognize the symptoms so that you can tackle it early. Be alert for a red rash, itching, and burning sensations. When you first become aware of these signs, go to a pharmacy or retail store and pick up any version of nonprescription antifungal and use according to the product’s instructions.
These particular mediations come in a variety of forms (sprays, powders, lotions, etc.) and using various active ingredients. Some of the common ones are clotrimazole, miconazole, terbinafine, and tolnaftate, and they are intended to be used anywhere from one to six weeks.
For optimal efficacy and preventing the infection from reoccurring, continue using the medication until it is gone, even if symptoms are no longer present.
Now, the itching and burning can be bad enough when you have a case of athlete’s foot, but knowing that you have passed it along to your family can only make you feel worse. Fortunately, a little effort can help prevent this.
When it comes to decreasing your odds of passing the infection along to your family, use the following tips to help:
Your risk of developing athlete’s foot is higher at indoor pools. The reason behind this is that athlete’s foot is a contagious infection caused by a fungus, and fungi thrive in warm, damp environments. If it’s been awhile since you’ve been to an indoor pool, those conditions exist right there on deck!
Locker rooms and communal showers are also environments that can be damp and warm. Combine this fact with the various patrons who use the facilities and there is plenty of opportunity for fungi to travel from human to ground to human. Even more risky is to borrow someone else’s towel!
In addition to borrowing a towel from a stranger—or even a friend or loved one!—at the next locker over, another action that can make athlete’s foot more likely is to wear damp socks or shoes.
Your feet are already ideal breeding grounds for microorganisms—they are dark from being hidden inside socks and shoes; sweat throughout the day; and your body is naturally warm—but damp footwear makes it even better for fungi, which is bad for you. If you suffer from hyperhidrosis (excessive sweating), be sure to keep an extra pair of socks or two with you and change into them when you notice that your other pair is damp.
Keep in mind that even the best preventative measures will not always eliminate all of the risk for contracting athlete’s foot. If you have tried your best home care and cannot improve the condition, simply give us a call and we will be glad to take a look and provide stronger treatment options. Call (812) 333-4422 to connect with our Bloomington, IN office today!
Your body goes through a lot of changes throughout nine months of pregnancy. The baby bump is the most obvious example, but far from the only one! Hormonal changes, increased blood volume, weight gain … your body has a lot of hard work to do to nourish a new life and prepare it for the world.
Unfortunately, sometimes these changes cause extra stress, discomfort, and pain for Mom as a side effect. This includes problems involving the feet, ankles, and lower legs. As your local podiatric team, it’s part of our job to help you understand how these changes might affect your life—and what you can do about them!
Swelling feet, ankles, and calves—usually caused by edema—is probably the most universal lower limb symptom of pregnancy. Fluids pool in the lower extremities, causing them to increase in size and look a little puffy.
During pregnancy, your baby’s circulatory system is “hooked up” to yours. Blood volume increases by up to 50% to meet the demand, and your heart has a harder time pumping blood back up from your feet and legs.
Some mild swelling is normal and even beneficial, but if you’re swelling excessively or developing varicose veins you may try these tips:
Hopefully, your anti-swelling tactics will keep cramping to a minimum! Unfortunately, they remain common, especially during the third trimester. Circulatory problems, along with weight gain and pressure on nerves and blood vessels, may contribute to cramping legs.
As with swelling, regular exercise, elevation, and compression stockings may be effective countermeasures for calf cramps. We also recommend a nice calf massage. Recruiting a loved one to provide one is the best option, but self-massage can be effective too. You might also try temporary use of a heating pad.
If cramps are severe, persistent, or otherwise getting in the way of your day-to-day functioning, seek medical attention.
We’re not just talking about swelling here. Pregnancy can actually alter the underlying bone structure of the feet. These changes may not completely be reversed even after giving birth and returning to your previous weight and fitness level.
During pregnancy, your body produces and releases specific hormones that relax and loosen ligaments, which are connective tissues that attach two or more bones to one another in a joint. This is what allows the body to stretch the way it needs to both during pregnancy and the birth itself.
But the affects are not limited to ligaments in the abdomen. The joints of your feet loosen, too, and there are a lot of them—66 total at ankle level and below! This combination of loose ligaments and weight gain can flatten your arches and make your feet both longer and wider than before.
You may have to go up a half size or two for your shoes, possibly temporarily—or possibly permanently. If foot pain is more serious, we may set you up with a pair of cushioned insoles to help support your feet and relieve pressure points.
Pregnancy alters the way you walk and carry yourself physically. Developing flatter arches is one contributor to this process, but it’s mostly a function of how your overall body shape and center of gravity shift when carrying a child.
To accommodate the additional weight at the front of the abdomen, the back curves more and the hips shift forward. Feet tend to be a little wider set to maintain stability. The combination of these factors can give some pregnant women a distinctive “waddle” as they walk. Feet may roll further during the load-bearing phase, with toes pointed outward instead of straight ahead (overpronation).
Because pregnancy places extra stress on certain muscles, and often forces women to “accommodate” their gait to fit their situation, they may be more prone to injury and pain in the feet, legs, hips, and lower back. Again, light exercise and comfortable shoes can be helpful here. Shoe inserts or custom orthotics may be needed to relieve pressure and stabilize abnormal motion or joints that may be giving way.
Not everyone experiences pregnancy the same way, although almost everyone deals with some degree of achiness, nausea, or other side effects. However, while some mildly uncomfortable symptoms are nearly unavoidable, significant foot or leg pain is never normal, even when you’re pregnant.
If struggles with your lower limbs are keeping you up at night or impairing daily functioning, please contact our office as soon as possible so we can help. You can reach our Bloomington, IN podiatry practice at (812) 333-4422 today.
Some foot and ankle conditions have misconceptions that are commonly held by the general public. For example:
A misconception you can add to that list is “arthritis is only one condition.” Why is this wrong? Because there are actually over 100 different kinds of arthritic conditions!
The reason people think it’s a single condition likely comes from the fact one of these conditions is more prevalent than the rest. (We’ll discuss this momentarily.) In reality, the word arthritis literally means “joint inflammation”—the root “arthron” means joint and the suffix “itis” always refers to inflammation—and there are several medical issues that can cause a joint to swell.
This is very relevant to foot health because each of your feet and ankles have 33 total joints that could potentially become pained and swollen.
Of course, not all forms of arthritis are equally as common. Further, some tend to be more often associated with the lower limbs. These ones include:
Treatment for arthritis in a foot or ankle will depend, naturally, on the specific condition causing problems, along with the severity of symptoms. Conservative care for arthritis may involve a treatment plan consisting of:
Our hope is to resolve your pain and difficulty with nonsurgical means, but there are definitely cases—particularly ones that are rather severe—wherein surgical intervention constitutes the best opportunity to resolve the problem.
Types of arthritis surgery we may recommend include:
There are pros and cons of each respective type of surgical procedure we use to treat arthritis, and we will carefully review these with you beforehand. It’s important to us that you are educated on surgery and able to make an informed decision. If you ever have any questions regarding your planned procedure, simply let us know and we will be glad to answer them for you.
If you have any questions about arthritis and how it can affect the lower limbs, or if you need to schedule an appointment for diagnosis and treatment, contact our Bloomington office and we will be glad to help. No matter if nonsurgical or surgical arthritis treatment is right for your case, you can trust our team to work hard to provide the care you need.
For more information on arthritis in a foot or ankle—or to request your appointment—call (812) 333-4422 today!
We get it. We’re all on the lookout to save a few bucks where we can. The off-brand cereal that tastes just as good for half the cost. The barely-used designer jacket that pops up at the local thrift store. That comfy chair that granddad doesn’t want any more. All great ways to get deluxe quality at bargain prices.
So when you’re facing a rack of slick-looking “orthotics” at the pharmacy—maybe even next to a foot pressure monitor promising a “custom fit”—it’s natural to wonder whether you really need to get a pair of custom orthotics from a podiatrist. Couldn’t you just get by on a cheaper, mass-produced insert?
Truthfully, only a foot expert can answer that question fully. But unlike “off-brand” food products or gently used clothes and furniture, prefabricated orthotics and custom orthotics are not just cheaper versions of the same basic tool. There is a significant gap between what each item can realistically achieve.
To start, custom orthotics are made to fit your feet exactly. Even if you stand on a testing kiosk and a computer tells you which “custom fit” you need, the truth is that store-bought insoles just aren’t in the same league. The best you will get is an approximate fit. This may provide some moderate relief from the extra cushioning and arch support, but for more serious foot pain you’ll almost certainly notice the difference.
Custom orthotics, unlike regular inserts, are meant to treat specific medical conditions. At your appointment, your foot specialist with carefully examine your feet and arrive at a diagnosis. We’ll also measure your feet using a scan or mold in order to create a precise fit. The type of orthotics, materials used, and other features can be selected based on the specific needs revealed during your examination. And of course, when your completed orthotics arrive, we can make a few final adjustments as necessary to ensure a perfect match.
Custom orthotics are also much more durable than generic inserts, so in addition to better performance, they also prove the better financial value over the long run. They’re a little more expensive up front, but they work better, you won’t have to replace them as often, and they can often be repaired or adjusted rather than junked when materials wear down or your needs change.
So, do you really need those custom orthotics? Again, it’s impossible to say without an evaluation. It’s possible that ordinary inserts—despite their limitations—may provide acceptable relief for your condition. This is more likely to be the case if your pain is milder, or more temporary. However, in a lot of cases, the custom orthotics really will perform much better, and be the better choice by most if not all measures.
Ready to find relief for your foot and ankle pain? Give Kevin J. Powers, DPM in Bloomington, IN a call today at (812) 333-4422.
A good pair of custom orthotics can last for several years without wearing out, especially if you take good care of them. However, inevitably, there will come a time when your orthotics must be updated in some way—whether that means you need a whole new set, or you just need your current ones adjusted, repaired, or refurbished.
How will you know when that time comes? Here are some things to check or think about.
As a general rule, it’s good practice to return to our office at least once per year to have Dr. Powers check your feet and your orthotics. You don’t have to be in pain or notice any obvious signs that something is wrong. Even a few tiny adjustments can help you get the greatest benefit from your custom orthotics and increase their useful lifespan. If it’s been over a year since your orthotics were checked, or you are experiencing any problems with them, call us today at (812) 333-4422.
You may be tempted to neglect your feet during the colder months. As the saying goes, after all, “out of sight, out of mind.” But just because they are hidden away in your new pair of boots, doesn’t mean you should ignore your feet once the temperature drops.
It is important to check your feet during winter rather than waiting until there is a problem. Healthy feet are fundamental for overall health. Foot problems affect every part of your life, from standing and walking to exercising and taking part in your daily activities.
With that in mind, here are some top tips for keeping your feet healthy this winter:
Put away your summer footwear and invest in quality winter shoes and boots. Your footwear choices play a big role in your foot health – all year long. This means you should sport models that will keep your feet warm and dry.
Winter shoes and boots also need to have thick soles and adequate grip so your feet can remain stable on slippery surfaces – which is obviously important when the ground is covered in snow and ice.
Take proper measures to reduce the risk for fungal infections. Keeping feet warm during our colder months is an obvious goal for your winter footwear. Unfortunately, boots and closed-toe shoes can lead to extra sweating. In turn, this contributes to toenail fungus and athlete’s foot.
The good news is there are steps you can take to lower your risk.
As a starting point, wear socks with moisture-wicking properties and that have improved breathability.
This is good practice throughout the entire year, but alternate your footwear every other day. An extra 24 hours between wear gives each pair a better opportunity to dry completely, which is important because fungus needs moisture to survive.
Keeping with the theme of “reducing moisture,” pass on wearing toenail polish during the winter. Your feet are usually hidden anyhow, and your toes won’t miss the extra moisture (but any fungi will!).
Prevent and treat dry heels. The problem with excessively dry skin is that it can become cracked and fissured. This not only may be painful, but it also creates an entry way for microorganisms into the body.
Fortunately, dry skin is treatable and can be prevented from happening in the first place.
With regards to prevention, you may want to rub petroleum jelly (like Vaseline) onto your heels after your bath or shower. This works because the petroleum jelly acts as a sealant – locking in the moisture so it doesn’t evaporate. Another approach that can work well is to massage a thick moisturizing cream into your feet, which also stimulates circulation.
Treatment for an existing case of dry heels can include those steps, along with using a pumice stone to smooth out rough or callused skin. When doing this, start by softening the stone with water and then gently rubbing it on the heels. Be sure to keep in mind the fact your goal is not to try and debride all dry skin in a single session!
Stay active. The motivation to exercise and work out can start to fade away as temperatures drop and the days shorten, but becoming inactive can be a big mistake. Moving your body helps to generate heat and keeps a healthy blood flow going down to your feet.
Of course, one of the best winter (or any season!) foot care tips is to come see us at the office of Kevin J. Powers, DPM if you need professional treatment. Remember, it is always best to address a problem early, so contact us today by calling (812) 333-4422.
Many people think about foot health, or heart health, or lung health, or any other kind of physical well-being separately, as if they’re not all part of the same body. However, this is too simplistic an approach. In truth, foot health is just one part of whole body health—everything is connected, and every part of the body relies on the others to achieve the greatest level of fitness. Moreover, the health of your feet can often tell you a lot about the rest of your body.
Take peripheral neuropathy and peripheral artery disease, for example. These are both systemic conditions that are frequently linked with diabetes, and that are caused by, influence, and affect your entire body. But for many people, the symptoms strike first—and worst—in the feet and toes. Cold toes, numbness, discoloration, muscle weakness, cramping in the legs, and other symptoms could all be signs that your body is suffering from a more extensive disease. If blood vessels are narrow and clogged in the feet, there’s a good chance they’re narrowing elsewhere too—and that could mean a heart attack or stroke in your future.
Consider also the problem of dry, flaking skin around the heels or balls of the feet. This could, of course, be an isolated incident. Or, it could be the early signs of a thyroid problem, which could affect blood pressure, nerve health, and metabolism throughout your entire body.
Even something as basic as ordinary foot pain can create wider problems. For starters, misalignments in feet don’t tend to stay isolated to the feet. Your entire skeleton has to compensate for issues with its foundation, and that can produce knee, hip, and lower back pain. But on an even more basic level, if your feet hurt, you’re probably not going to be very interested in doing a lot of walking or exercising. That, obviously, can have a snowball effect on the entire state of your physical wellbeing.
Your feet, as it turns out, can be a surprisingly effective diagnostic tool for identifying whole body health risks! So, stop and ask yourself—what are my feet telling me about my health? About my future risks?
If you are experiencing any kind of foot pain, discomfort, or problem, please call the office of Kevin J. Powers, DPM today. Early examination and treatment can not only relieve your pain more easily, but help you identify risks and prevent future threats to your physical health. You can reach us in Bloomington, IN at (812) 333-4422.
It’s not groundbreaking news to know you need to be physically active (along with eating well and getting plenty of sleep) for optimal health. What you may not know or consider, however, are the effects exercise can have on your feet.
Now, those effects can be both positive and negative. On the positive front, exercise can improve circulation, help muscles absorb more oxygen and nutrients, and help you shed pounds – which obviously means less weight on your feet and ankles.
This injury risk isn’t enough to keep you from being activity, however. On the contrary, leading a sedentary life can actually lead to even bigger problems (for your entire body). Further, foot and ankle sports injuries are often treated without needing surgical intervention.
We know it’s easy to hear about professional athletes who have season-ending injuries and require surgery to repair damaged tissues. This might lead you to believe that’s the case for most sports and exercise-related injuries. What you should keep in mind is the fact reporters don’t often find it newsworthy to report about athletes who benefit from conservative measures to control inflammation and/or use physical therapy to improve range of motion and joint function.
Of course, perhaps the best reason you shouldn’t let a certain degree of foot and ankle injury risk keep you from leading an active lifestyle is the simple fact there are measures you can take to lessen that risk, including:
Following these tips can protect your feet from common foot and ankle sports injuries, but don’t forget the importance of listening to your body and coming to see us before embarking upon a new fitness program. We can evaluate the current state of your lower limbs and identify potential concerns.
We hope you are able to stay safe when exercising or playing favorite sports, but we also know there’s no way to completely eliminate all injury risk when humans move our bodies. If you need treatment for a foot or ankle injury—or any kind of lower limb issue—contact our Bloomington office by calling ((812) 333-4422 and we will be happy to help.
Diabetes causes systemic damage and can really impact every part of the body, including the skin on your feet. In fact, skin problems are sometimes even the first sign a person has diabetes.
It’s estimated that as many as one-third of diabetic individuals will have a skin issue either caused or affected by the disease at some point in their lives. Fortunately, most of these conditions are easily treated if caught early.
Even better, many are preventable if you take the right diabetic skin care measures.
There are several things you can do to prevent skin problems when you have diabetes, including:
(If you are concerned about making sure you strike the right balance between “too damp” and “too dry,” come see us and we will help you with this.)
Do not hesitate to contact us if you have any questions or concerns. Remember, we are here to help you with any foot or ankle condition, especially when diabetes is in the picture!
For more information—or to schedule an appointment with our office—give us a call at (812) 333-4422.