Dr. Berg's Foot Facts

Posts for: June, 2011

By Rion A. Berg, DPM
June 21, 2011
Category: home foot care
Tags: walking   ankle sprains   hiking  


When I think about a beautiful summer weekend, I think about the great outdoors, particularly about a moderately vigorous hike, (with our hills in downtown Seattle, that could be in the city or out) that provides both a gorgeous date with mother nature and a fun, challenging way to get my daily exercise. The next thing I think about is how much energy is used and how much work is done by my legs and feet, especially going up hills, down hills, and hiking on natural, unpaved paths. While these are some of the enjoyable parts of exercising outdoors, they also warrant some precautionary thoughts and “what if” questions to be considered.

Since I know my feet and legs are going to work hard, it is certainly necessary to invest in soft comfortable socks and sturdy supportive shoes for this type of exercise. Since I know how tired and sore feet can become after a nice long hike on potentially uneven surfaces, a common musculoskeletal injury comes to mind--ankle sprains.

Ankle sprains, or twisting/rolling your ankle, are very common injuries encountered on hiking trails due to a wrong step on uneven surfaces such as tree roots, rocks, or just a hole in the ground. Since this is an acute injury that will likely lead to swelling and inflammation around your ankle area.

I recommend a common protocol that needs to be applied immediately called "RICE" which stands for Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation. Apply an ice pack to the affected area (with a layer of cloth between your skin and the ice) and held in place with an Ace wrap or elastic bandage to provide compression.

These steps help decrease the swelling and internal damage occurring as part of the body’s natural response to the injury. The ankle should be elevated slightly higher than your heart to help promote drainage from the swollen area. The ice should be applied for 20 min on/20 min off as much as you can for the first 48 hours after the injury. The “rest” part of this treatment means keeping weight-bearing activity to a minimum for a couple of days, and slowly getting back to normal daily activities as tolerated. It is very important to make sure your ankle strength and stability have returned before attempting physical activities, as these sprained ankles are common to reoccur.

If you are still experiencing pain, weakness, or instability after about a week, it may be necessary to schedule an appointment with a podiatrist to further evaluate the ankle and provide more treatment options.

*The RICE method of treatment may also be used as first-line treatment for any type of muscle, tendon, or ligament injury where there is pain and swelling.

If you've sustained an injury, it's important to see a Seattle podiatrist to evaluate the injury and determine whether further treatment is needed. Call us at 206-368-7000 or request an appointment online.

 

 


By Rion A. Berg, DPM
June 14, 2011
Category: foot care

 

With the 10-day forecast predicting close to summer-like in Lake City, and with the kids energetically into the full swing of summer vacation, many of you are probably looking outdoors or at least out of the house, for entertainment and exercise. Whether this includes a long walk on the Brook Gilman Trail, swimming at Meadowbrook Pool or burning off extra energy at the Greenlake playground, summer is the perfect time to get yourself and those Energizer-bunny kids off the couch and out of the house.


Along with summer, however, comes increased heat and humidity, which turns out to be a potential breeding ground for an invisible enemy—fungus. Of particular concern is a fungus called Tinea, which is the cause of fungal foot infections known as Tinea Pedis or Athletes’ Foot.

This fungus can be found in warm, moist environments such as wet shoes and socks, public showers at the pool or health club, or alongside the swimming pool. If you notice any cracked, flaking, peeling skin on the feet or in between the toes that becomes red and itchy or if you notice your toenails become thick, brittle, or turned a yellowish color, you may have picked up this very common and very treatable fungus. 


Here are some treatment and prevention ideas to keep this intense itching away this summer:
Treatment:
Apply an over-the-counter powder or cream to the affected areas as directed on the label for up to 1-2 weeks. Effective creams include Lotrimin AF, Lamisil, and Tinactin.

Contact Foot and Ankle Center of Lake City immediately at 206-368-7000 to schedule an appointment with us if:
o        your symptoms do not subside after 2 weeks of self-treatment
o        the red, itchy area gets bigger or spreads to other areas.
o        the area becomes warm or swollen
o        you are a diabetic and develop a fungal foot infection
o        you have any questions or concerns regarding this or any other foot or ankle issues

Prevention:

  • Wear shoes or shower sandals in all public showers, locker rooms and swimming pool areasShower Sandals
  • When hiking or exercising, bring extra changes of shoes and socks to keep your feet and toes dry at  all times
  • Wash your feet and in between your toes with soap and water twice a day (especially any cuts or abrasions anywhere on your feet, as these areas are more prone to infection)
  • Make sure you keep the area in between your toes dry at all times
  • Use anti-fungal sprays at the health club or swimming pool if available
  • Use anti-fungal powders in your shoes if you are prone to these fungal infections
  • Wear shoes that are well-ventilated (avoid plastic-lined shoes), and make sure your shoes have dried entirely before you wear them again
  • If infected, DO NOT use the same towel to dry infected areas and other non-infected areas of your body, as Athletes’ Foot can be spread by contact.

The best prevention to any foot problem is to inspect your feet regularly and to call me at 206-368-7000 for any questions or concerns!

Rion A. Berg, DPM
Podiatrist and Board Certified Foot Surgeon


By Dr. Rion Berg
June 03, 2011
Tags: Untagged

The calendar says it is Spring, and as long as this crazy weather is warm enough to prevent frostbite, it is time to bust out the flip flops, right? They are so easy to slip on quick and head out to Golden Gardens, while allowing those beautifully painted nails, (or those hot, sticky, feet) out to enjoy some fresh air.

Plus, there’s the chance your kids just picked out a colorful array of $2 thong-style flip flops just in time for summer vacation. So now you find yourself outside walking the trails or exploring the local shopping scene, really feeling “summery” in shorts and flip flops after a long winter of having your feet sequestered in socks and shoes.

But then after a day or two, things start plummeting as summer spirits have turned into achy ankles and pedal pain.

A source of a good amount of foot pain can be based on your specific foot type and subsequently on lack of support for that foot type. It is a safe bet that if we were to make a “Top 5 Reasons My Feet Hurt After A Long Day” list, the frequent use of flat, flip flops/sandals or shoes without proper support would be near the top.

While studies have begun to show how bad certain shoe types such as thong-style flip flops can be for the feet, other reports show that men’s thong-style flip-flop sandal sales in department stores had a fourfold increase from 2002 to 2006, contributing to the $50 million increase in overall sandal sales from 2004 to 2007.

It can be casually observed that wearing flip-flops changes the way a person walks, while one study shows an increase in plantar pressures (increased pressure coming from the ground up through the bottom of the foot with each step) when wearing flip-flops compared with athletic sneakers.

Any flip-flop or sandal without adequate heel support (both under and around the heel) and without adequate arch support will only exacerbate any previously existing abnormalities in foot structure or function, leading, of course, to more heel and foot pain. In addition to general achiness, use of unsupported flip-flops has been found to increase the chance of plantar fasciitis.

The paramount reason thong-style flip-flops can be so risky for the feet, (besides lack of arch support, lack of heel support, and often being so thin you may as well walk barefoot) is that with each step, as your foot swings forward, you grip the flip-flop by curling your toes, and this tiny subconscious habit changes the way you walk and the way your foot functions while walking, once again leading to all this pain.

But wait! There is hope! The number one answer is simple: get a good sneaker with adequate support and throw away those flat, thin, thong-style flip flops. They never supported you anyway! But if you’re like me, sandals are just too hard to resist if the temperature is above 60 degrees. If you must wear sandals, there are styles available with built-in medial arch support, straps that go around the ankle to provide some heel support, and straps around the foot to prevent that toe death grip with each step.

A few highly recommended sandal brands are Chaco, Teva , and Spenco, that have the rugged footwear look we are known for here in Seattle. For a touch dressier look, consider Naot, Keen, or Dansko sandals.  It is recommended to limit the amount of time and activity in any type of shoe gear without propper support, as well as to switch to supportive shoe gear and to see your podiatrist at the first sign of flip-flop associated foot pain.

If you're experiencing pain in your feet make an appointment today by calling us at 206-368-7000 or request one online.