Thursday, August 16, 2018

Athletes Foot

Athletes foot, or tinea pedis, is the most common skin condition seen in a podiatry office.  Although very common, tinea pedis can be easily misdiagnosed.  This is because tinea pedis can present in a number of different ways.
The most common way athletes foot presents is between the toes, where the skin becomes moist, red or white, irritated, and often itchy.  Another presentation of athletes foot is the chronic type, where the skin becomes dry, scaly and cracked on the bottom of the foot.  Tinea pedis can also be acute or inflammatory, where the skin becomes rough and red.  Fluid filled vesicles also appear.  
All the types of fungus, ( there are at least three ) thrive in moist, dark warm areas.  This type of environment along with a genetic predisposition, enables the fungus to infect the skin.  This is the reason that there is such a high rate of recurrence with tinea pedis.

In preventing the fungus infection, the environment that allows the fungus to flourish must be eliminated.  The feet must be kept clean and dry, and allowed to "air out".  Shoes should also be allowed to air out for a least 24 hours.  Breathable cotton socks are preferable to nylon.  For those who suffer from excessive perspiration, medicated powder can be effective in controlling moisture.
For the majority of cases, topical antifungal medications are sufficient.  The topical medications are typically used for at least 2-3 weeks.  For those conditions unresolved by topical medications, a course of oral medication may be necessary.
Fungus infections of the feet are more than a cosmetic problem.  Untreated tinea pedis can spread to the toenails, or other parts of the body.  Fungus infections of the skin can lead to bacterial infections, cellulitis and wounds in diabetics.
If you think you have athletes foot, seek the proper medical attention.

Referenced from Podiatry Today, July 2018, Myron Bodman,DPM

Sunday, July 29, 2018

Diabetes and Surgical Risks

Elevated blood sugars increase the risks of adverse outcomes after surgery according to recent study cited in "Clinical Diabetes", summer 2018.  Special attention therefore must be paid to these patients both before and after surgery.  Compared to patients with normal blood sugar, patients with diabetes have an increased risk of mortality 6 months after surgery, and elevated risks of complications that require additional hospitalization.  Studies reveal that the higher the blood sugar, the higher the risk of adverse outcomes.  For those with diabetes in need of surgery, it is very important to consult with the physician controlling diabetes, to determine the best plan to keep the blood sugar control to prevent adverse outcomes.  Ways of decreasing blood sugar levels are losing weight and being physically active.  Losing weight can be achieved by eating smaller servings, try calorie-free drinks or water instead of regular soft drinks or juice,choose baked, grilled, and steamed foods instead of fried, eat more vegetables, whole grains, and fruit, and avoiding high fat toppings.  Walking whenever possible; walk every day for 30 minutes, 5 days a week or split the 30 minutes into two 15 minute or three 10 minute walks.  Try strength training by lifting light weights two to three times a week.  Talk with your health care team about ways to achieve your goals using meal planning, physical activity and medicine.

Below is a link for information related to surgery and diabetes.

Ways to Combat "White Coat Syndrome"

Recently, I read an article the "Sentinel" newspaper written by Vashti Harris about a lecture given by two family practice physicians, Dr. Farrah Fong and Dr. Karen Lin about " White Coat Syndrome".
White Coat Syndrome is an expression for fear of going to the doctor or feelings of anxiety when seeing a doctor.  Up to 20% of the population suffers from this fear.  Many develop this fear as children, who associate going to the doctor with getting vaccinations or other unpleasant things.  Later in life, some people carry over a dislike or distrust of doctors, medical treatments, or body examinations.  There is also fear of diagnosis of a serious illness, and guilt about unhealthy behaviors.  As a result, many people choose the internet over doctors.
Because of the constraints of our healthcare system, doctors are compelled to see many patients in a limited amount of time.  This makes it difficult to build a trusting doctor-patient relationship.  News and internet stories, lawsuits and commercials report about medical errors, along with medication issues and recalls.  This has increased distrust toward the medical community as well.
It is important, according to the doctors lecturing on the topic, to identify exactly what he or she is worried about.  Then one must confront these anxieties and deal with them rationally.  Patients can also find out how they can better control their condition to alleviate feelings of helplessness.  During an appointment, patients should make sure they have their worst concern addressed, and ask for clarification if the don't understand what the doctor is telling them. They should ask for written instructions or resources.  If a patient is afraid or uncomfortable with his or her doctor, they may consider seeking out a new doctor who they could better talk to.  Taking a family member or a close friend to an appointment can often provide support or comfort to the patient.

Low Back Pain


If the foundation of a house is unsound, eventually the upper levels will collapse.  The same is true with the human body.  If one's foot structure is deficient, and there is insufficient support, muscles and tendons may strain to maintain the body in proper alignment.  Eventually, the muscles tire and the upper joints compensate; first the ankles, then the knees, hips and finally the lower back.
Low back pain can be caused by tightness and inflexibility of the muscles of the back of the leg.  This may be a result of the strain from poor foot support.  Low back spasms may result from tight muscle groups.

Exercises to strengthen the abdominal muscles and stretch the lower back muscles are important.  But the pain may not resolve completely if the cause has not been recognized and addressed.
An orthotic or a high quality arch support should provide a good foundation to prevent muscle strain or upper joint pain.  This improved support may actually alleviate some types of low back pain.  If you suffer from low back pain, consider a good foot evaluation.

Evan Kelner, DPM

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Morton's Neuroma

A neuroma is an enlarged, damaged, and usually entrapped nerve.  The most common area of the foot for a neuroma is between the 3rd and 4th metatarsal bones.  Morton's neuroma is thought to be caused by both foot structure and repetitive trauma.
Symptoms include shooting pain, burning, or tingling that extends to a toe.  Sometimes a shoe with a good support and a wide toe box may keep the condition under control.  More often, a steroid injection to the area as well as orthotics are helpful in relieving pain.  Icing the area and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory may also temporarily help the symptoms.
More advanced treatment includes sclerosing alcohol injections to the area that deactivate the damaged nerve.  Usually between 2-5 injections of sclerosing alcohol are needed to be effective.  Surgical excision of the neuroma is done when more conservative treatments fail.  As with any surgery, the possibility of complications must be considered.
If you or someone you know is suffering from shooting pain or burning extending to the toes, please feel free to contact us.  A conservative solution may be closer than you think.
Evan Kelner, DPM

Are Sneakers the New High Fashion?

Recently, while watching TV news, there was a brief segment featuring a variety of women on Manhattan streets wearing sneakers with summer dresses.  The TV reporter asked the women why they were wearing sneakers with skirts and dresses instead of high heels.  Almost all the women responded that they were wearing the sneakers not only for comfort, but also as a fashion statement.
Today's sneakers come in a wide variety of styles and colors.  According to the news report, wearers of Nike, Adidas, and other brands are up 37%, as opposed to high heels, of which sales are down 11%.
At the royal wedding festivities of Meghan and Harry, it was reported that tennis star Venus Williams wore sneakers under her gown.

Is foot comfort taking precedence  over classic shoe fashion?  Are women eschewing high heels in favor of sneakers?  Is this just a fad or is it a true fashion trend?  It may be interesting to see.

Evan Kelner, DPM

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

The Problem with Compression Stockings

Compression stockings are an important part of treating swelling or edema of the feet, ankles and legs.  These prescription stockings control the swelling by being applied the first thing in the morning, before the legs become too swollen.  They are worn all day and then taken off at night before bedtime.  These stockings must be properly fitted to the legs.  Too tight and they cut off circulation; too loose and they are non effective.  The stockings are not only important in controlling edema, but can also prevent the occurrence of leg ulcers.
The problem with compression stockings is that, in order to be effective, they must be very snug.  It is often difficult and time consuming to both put them on and take them off.  Some patients become frustrated, and choose therefore not to wear them at all.
Although there have been some innovations to make compression stockings easier to use, such as zippers and lighter materials, compliance is still a problem.  Recently I expressed this concern to a vascular surgeon.  He told me that he recommends that his patients try yoga pants, leotards or compression socks instead.  Although not as effective in controlling the swelling, these other alternatives are, perhaps, better than nothing.
If you have problems with swelling of the legs, seek medical attention.  The cause of the swelling needs to be identified in order to properly treat it.

Evan Kelner, DPM