Dr. Berg's Foot Facts

Posts for: October, 2014

Just because it’s Halloween doesn’t mean that scary fungal toenails need to be part of your costume, even if you do plan to go as a witch.

You may be wondering if your discolored nails really are fungus. It's a good question. While fungus is the first thing we think about when we see scary looking nails, they can be caused by trauma such as dropping a heavy object on them or repetitive action such as running.

If you do have fungus it's not something to keep under wraps. Unfortunately most fungal nails won't just sit there. Over time they can get thicker and cause your nails to become distorted and painful. And just like warts they can spread to other toenails and family members.

What can you do?

Get Your Nails Tested For Fungus
If your primary doctor has already verified its fungus then you probably have it. If not a sample of your nail clippings will need to be analyzed. That way we know we’re treating the real deal.

How to Prevent Your Toenails from Becoming Witch-like
You can stop your nails from getting worse and distorted by getting your nails treated early. The earlier the better since fungus can be more difficult to treat the longer you have it.

Take Precautions to Prevent Fungal Nails In the First Place
To avoid fungus altogether there are a few things you can do. If your spouse or another family member has it, make sure they get treated to stop the chance of it spreading to you or someone else. Shower rooms and locker rooms are breeding grounds for fungus; always wear flip flops or other foot covering in these situations. Be sure your nail salon is properly sterilizing their tools. Or instead pull out your supplies and give yourself a DIY pedicure.

Don’t be Fooled by Folk Treatments Such As Vicks Vapor Rub
Many people ask this Seattle podiatrist whether Vicks or Listerine can get rid of toenail fungus. These folk remedies have not been shown to be successful. The only treatments proven to work are certain topicals you can purchase over-the-counter or from a pharmacist, oral medications, and laser. Our office uses comprehensive laser treatment along with orals and topicals to get clearing of nail fungus for our patients. Laser penetrates the nail bed to kill the fungus, orals kill the fungus through the bloodstream, and topicals keep down the fungal load on the outside of the nail and skin surrounding the nail.

Your nails can take nine months or longer to grow out once they get treated. That's why it's important to get your toenails treated now if you're want to wear sandals this summer.

Call us today at 206-368-7000 for an appointment. Often same day for emergencies and less than 2 weeks for chronic foot pain. You can also request an appointment online.

More information
Guide to Eliminating Ugly Fungal Toenails
Fungal Nails are More Than a Cosmetic Problem in Diabetic Patients

Your free foot book "No More Foot Pain" is waiting to be sent to your home.

In addition, our newsletter "Foot Sense" comes out monthly.  You can also check out our past issues. Every issue contains a mouth-watering recipe and can be printed out for easier reading!

Seattle foot and ankle specialist, Dr. Rion Berg offers foot care for patients with bunions, heel pain, diabetes, fungal toenails, ingrown nails, and surgical solutions when needed to residents of Seattle, Bellevue, Kirkland, Shoreline, Lake Forest Park, Mountlake Terrace, Lynnwood and other surrounding suburbs.

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You can contact the Foot and Ankle Center of Lake City at 206-368-7000 or request an appointment online.

By Dr. Rion Berg
October 23, 2014
Category: Heel pain

Just because ballet flats are all the rage doesn’t mean that your feet can handle these very flat, unsupportive shoes. For so many years women have been told to avoid high, high heels. And many have heeded the call by opting for a flat shoe. Unfortunately these flat, flat shoes can cause a significant number of foot and postural problems.

So what’s wrong with these cute, trendy shoes? Well if you’re young and have perfect feet you may not notice a problem with these trendy shoes. But many people will. Wearing flat shoes with no arch support or lift in the heel can cause the plantar fascia (the band of tissue that starts at the heel, cuts across your arch, and inserts into the base of your toes) to overstretch causing enormous heel pain. Wearing a supportive shoe with a heel of one inch or less will go a long way in alleviating this problem since it relaxes the pull on the plantar fascia and in addition, relaxes the calf muscle which connects to the plantar fascia.

Of course, as a Seattle podiatrist I advocate a supportive shoe with a low heel. However, if you’re going to wear ballet flats here are some recommendations:

  • Wear them sparingly; if you have an office job and you’re not constantly on your feet you’ll probably be fine. But if you work in sales or are constantly on your feet you’re just asking for trouble
  • If you walk to work or long distances, wear tennis shoes or another supportive low heeled shoe, not ballet flats.
  • Alternate between ballet flats and other shoes with a slight heel.

For more information about how to shop for shoes, refer to my recent blog 7 Essential Shoe Shopping Tips for Women.  If you’re experiencing  foot pain as a result of wearing flat or unsupportive shoes, call our office at 206-368-7000 or request an appointment online

By Dr. Rion Berg
October 20, 2014
Category: foot conditions

Buying the right shoes for your feet can make all the difference. Although some of us would love to wear sky high heels because they look so good, for many this  option will only cause pain and suffering in the short and long term. Getting to know your foot type and your own physical limitations will help you make good shoe shopping decisions. Your feet have to last you a lifetime, so one of the key steps to treating them well is getting the right shoe for your foot type and for your lifestyle.

1. Get Your Feet Measured: it’s not uncommon for women to buy the same size shoes they have always worn. As we age, our feet do get longer and may get wider. Keep in mind, there should be at least an index finger of width between your longest toe and the end of the shoe.

2. Shop for Shoes at the End of the Day: our feet swell as the day goes on. Although you may be tempted to hit that shoe sale early in the day, wait until the afternoon to get the right fit.

3. Buy Shoes to Fit Your Longer Foot: most of us have one foot that is slightly longer than the other. Since most people can’t afford to buy 2 pairs of shoes, choose the larger size so that you don’t cramp your toes. You can always pad the foot that is shorter for a better fit.

4. Shoes Vary Within Brands – most athletic shoes are made to meet the needs of its customers. Some shoes have much more give and are not intended to be worn to run a race. Others are specifically made for that purpose and have a firm heel counter, will only bend at the toe, and can’t be twisted when you attempt to wring them out like a rag. Be sure to let the salesperson know how you intend to use the shoe, so you get the right shoe for the right activity.

5. Choose shoes with a roomier toe box – pointy shoes that cramp toes can eventually cause all kinds of foot problems including bunions and ingrown toenails. You don’t need to sacrifice fashion to get the look you desire. Munro, Keen, Naot are just a few brands that have a roomier toe box.

6. Resole Worn Out Shoes To Maintain Stability – after putting many miles on your shoes the soles wear out and because of the way we walk our soles usually wear out unevenly. Wearing uneven soles can throw off our stability and put us at risk for falls and back problems. Most casual and dress shoes can be re-soled. Athletic shoes cannot. Most people put 400-600 miles on their shoes per year. Replace your athletic shoes annually or more often if you put on a lot miles.

7. Choose heels one inch or less – many women love their heels, but unfortunately they can cause many foot and ankle problems that often get worse over time such as bunions and hammertoes. If you insist on wearing heels higher than an inch, don’t wear them all the time. Constant wear of flat, flat shoes can also cause problems because they don’t provide the necessary arch support most people require. Flat shoes can cause a condition called plantar fasciitis which results in heel pain.

For more information about shoes or foot problems, call the Foot and Ankle Center of Lake City at 206-368-7000 or request an appointment online.

By Dr. Rion Berg
October 17, 2014
Category: sports injuries
Tags: Untagged

Our beloved Seahawks seem to be a little off their game lately, what with two recent losses. ESPN just announced that we’ll be without four starters on Sunday against St. Louis, a handicap I’m sure Pete Carroll and Russell Wilson are both concerned about. Although shoulder and knee injuries are common in football, so are foot and ankle injuries. Two out of the four players are plagued lower extremity problems. Zach Miller recently had minor ankle surgery and middle linebacker Bobby Wagner has a case of turf toe.

Turf toe? What’s that?

Turf toe occurs when players jam their toe or repeatedly push off during running and jumping. This results in sprained ligaments around the big toe joint. The term was originally coined with sports played on artificial turf; the harder artificial surface makes cleats more likely to stick. However, turf toe can just as easily occur on grass surfaces, particularly when the shoe worn does not provide sufficient support.

Common symptoms of turf toe are pain, swelling, and limited joint movement. With repetitive injuries, symptoms begin slowly and get worse over time. With a sudden force injury pain is usually immediate and gets worse over the next 24 hours.

Football players aren’t the only athletes at risk for turf toe. Soccers players with flat feet are particularly at risk for this condition. Basketball players, wrestlers, and dancers can also encounter this nasty toe problem.

Rest, icing, elevation, and taping to compress the toe and reduced movement are all immediate actions you can take on your own. For a more thorough diagnosis, as your Seattle podiatrist I recommend that you come in to see me so that I can assess the extent of the injury and whether further attention is needed. To prevent this condition from reoccurring, avoid playing on artificial turf and if you have flat feet you will need to be assessed to determine if this foot type is exacerbating your risk of injury.

To make an appointment at the Foot and Ankle Center of Lake call us at 206-368-7000 or request an appointment online.

Photo source: Associated Press

You may be used to wearing high heels and you want to keep wearing them even though you just found out you’re pregnant. But is this a good idea? As your Seattle podiatrist I typically tell women to steer clear of high heels even under non-pregnant conditions. High heels are well known to cause many foot and ankle problems including bunions, hammertoes, and a shorten Achilles which can lead to plantar fasciitis.

Pregnancy adds some additional problems when it comes to wearing high heels. Weight gain and changes in body shape shifts your center of gravity forward. Hormonal changes cause loosening of the foot ligaments. This combination makes wearing high heels more precarious than usual since high heels are already less stable than a lower heeled shoe and put you more at risk for falls. In addition, looser foot ligaments require more foot support, not less to avoid heel pain and the other conditions high heels already cause. Back problems are also common in pregnancy and high heels can make them worse.

Even though Kate Middleton refuses to give up her heels during pregnancy, keep yourself safe instead of being a slave to fashion. Wear shoes with a heel of one inch or less with a wider toe box to accommodate swelling.

For more information about pregnancy and feet or if you have a current foot or ankle problem, call the Foot and Ankle Center at 206-368-7000 or request an online appointment