Dr. Berg's Foot Facts

Posts for: August, 2011

By Rion A. Berg DPM
August 23, 2011
Category: foot care
Tags: diabetes   foot care   ulcers  

I saw a popular show on cable TV called, “Pawn Stars”. This show is about a three-generation family business in Las Vegas, NV, a pawn shop that sees some very interesting and bizarre items. As you may know, none of these gentlemen, (grandfather, son and grandson) seem to be starving, as evidenced by the bigger sized black work shirts they wear on the show. One of the sons, Corey Harrison, recently took his weight problem seriously and decided to do something about it. Corey was diagnosed by his doctor as “pre-diabetic” and he weighed 365 pounds.

Corey opted for the increasingly popular lap-band surgery to aid in his weight reduction. Lap-band surgery has proven successful for Corey, who embraced a new diet and exercise program as well. It’s the exercise and dietary changes -made for the rest of his life after the procedure- that will improve Corey’s long term health. 

Now, of course you don’t need any procedure done by a doctor in order to start your own lifestyle changes, but these small, daily adjustments are just as likely to save your life in the long run as any procedure ever could.

Let’s talk today about diabetes mellitus: what it is, what causes it, what life-changing damage it can cause to your feet and other body parts, and the one simple way to treat it and possibly prevent it altogether.

Diabetes Mellitus (DM) is split into Type 1 and Type 2, but both are characterized by high levels of glucose (“sugar”) in the blood. In Type 1 DM (usually onset at a younger age), genetics and other factors cause your body to make antibodies to certain cells in the pancreas that normally make insulin. These antibodies start to destroy the pancreatic cells, and therefore less insulin is able to be made. One of insulin’s normal functions is to push glucose from your blood into your muscle and other tissue to be used as a source of energy. Therefore without insulin from the pancreas, the glucose just stays in the blood, causing high blood sugar.

Type 2 DM (adult onset) is typically related to obesity, lack of exercise, and a diet high in fats and sugars. The increased body fat causes the muscles and other tissue to be resistant to insulin, therefore keeping the glucose in your blood and causing high blood sugar. Increased body weight also leads to pancreatic dysfunction, therefore decreasing the amount of insulin secreted and also leading to high blood sugar. Type 2 DM is also associated with other factors such hypertension, (high blood pressure), high cholesterol/triglycerides and increased abdominal fat.

When the blood sugar reaches high enough levels, glucose starts spilling over into the urine (most glucose is usually reabsorbed by your body and not excreted), which causes more water to be pulled out of the body and into the urine, leading to an increase in the frequency of urination and increased thirst. Pre-diabetes is when your fasting blood sugar (as measured by blood from a finger stick) is above normal (normal is <100 mg/dl and pre-diabetes is 100-125 mg/dl) but not high enough to be technically diagnosed as diabetes. Without a significant weight loss with diet and exercise, someone diagnosed as pre-diabetic is very likely to progress to Type 2 DM within 10 years, with the early beginning of damage caused by Diabetes Mellitus.

Tune in next week to find out exactly what parts of your body (hint: you’ve been walking on one of the most at-risk body parts since you were about 1 year old) are at risk to be damaged and the best thing you can do to ensure your own health!

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

Foot and Ankle Center of Lake City
2611 NE 125th, Ste 130
Seattle, WA 98125

Centrally Located in Northeast Seattle
Our office is located in Lake City within 10 minutes of Shoreline, Kenmore, Juanita, Sandpoint, Meadowbrook, Wedgewood, Maple Leaf, Broadview, Greenwood, Northgate, and Pinehurst. Parking is free.

Click here to request an appointment or call 206.368.7000.


By Rion A. Berg DPM
August 16, 2011

It’s that time of year again, when parents drive kids nuts, kids drive parents nuts, and parents drive other parents nuts rushing around crazily to get everything on your favorite teacher’s 1st day of school shopping list.

Back to school shopping is an exciting time for parents and kids for different reasons. For parents, it means it’s almost time to ship the kids back to school and maybe catch your breath from a busy summer before the busy fall really kicks in. Kids enjoy shopping for the latest and greatest supplies, backpacks, and a new wardrobe, including new sneakers. When shopping for new shoes,  is important to prevent foot problems and injuries to your child’s feet. There are several tips for making the right selection of shoes for your child to start the school year, which unfortunately may include a compromise between his or her favorite “in-style” design and a pair of shoes that is good for their feet.

Bring your child shopping with you so they can be measured for proper size by a shoe store employee. Children often grow at an incredible rate which means their shoe size is going to change frequently. Proper shoe size will prevent tightness and improper motions that could lead to unwanted structural and functional changes in the feet. If one foot is larger than the other, you should always go with the larger size so it does not cramp the toes or create hammertoes (when your smaller digits contract up like a claw). Taking your child with you and teaching them what to look for also teaches them good habits for the future. 

When in doubt about proper shoe size, always use the rule of thumb:  Make sure that there is at least one thumb’s width between the tip of the big toe and the end of the shoe. This rule can also be used for adults. Look for a shoe that has a rigid midsole area (see pic below). If the shoe is able to bend front to back or twist side to side, it does not provide enough support.

Select a good sturdy shoe that has a stiff heel counter (the part of the shoe that goes around the backside of the heel) and a semi-rigid toe box (partially stiff-partially flexible area that goes over the tops of the toes) to help support the foot and prevent injuries or improper wearing-out patterns in the shoes.

It is important to regularly check the wear pattern of your child’s shoes to make sure both shoes show a similar normal pattern, as abnormal wear patterns can indicate changes in the foot and provide information to your podiatrist about possible foot problems your child may be experiencing. You can check the wear pattern by simply looking at the bottom surface of the shoe (the surface that touches the ground). A normal pattern should be worn out in the middle and outside of the heel area as well as in the area under the big toe and second toe. You can see in this picture that this follows the normal pattern of how force is distributed across your foot with each step you take, beginning when your heel strikes the ground and ending when your big toe pushes off the ground to move your forward.

In general, shoes should not be passed down from generation to generation as they do break down and wear out based on individual foot type (aka - shoes lose support and function with excessive wear). Sharing shoes could also possibly spread warts or fungus from one child to another. Shoes should be comfortable when they are first put on and should not have to be “broken in”. 

If you have any questions about your child’s shoe size, how to pick a good shoe and the proper size, or concerns about abnormal wear patterns or other noticeable changes in your child’s feet, please do not hesitate to call us at 206.368.7000 or email [email protected]                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       

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

Foot and Ankle Center of Lake City
2611 NE 125th St., Ste. 130
Seattle, WA 98125

Keeping Feet Happy and Healthy For 30 Years!

Click Here for more information on children's foot care