Start Fall Off On The Right Foot: How to Avoid Toe Pain and Morton’s Neuroma

With fall right around the corner, most people are gearing up to put away their summer shoes in exchange for warmer, weather-proof footwear. While this is generally a good thing (summer shoes can cause a variety of problems, as discussed in our article here)  the switch from foot-freeing shoes such as open toed sandals, to tighter, closed toe shoes can cause some issues of their own, especially if they are ill-fitting and uncomfortable.

 

One such foot problem is called Morton’s Neuroma, a painful condition that characterized by a tingling sensation in the space between the toes. Morton’s Neuroma develops when a nerve between the toe bones becomes irritated and, over time, thickens. When left untreated, it can eventually develop into a burning or sharp shooting pain in the ball of the foot or base of the toes.

 

While the cause of Morton’s Neuroma isn’t exactly known, it is likely caused by wearing tight shoes, high heels, or any footwear that compresses — or squishes — the foot. Other foot problems, such as flat feet and bunions, can make the condition worse as well.

 

If you’ve experienced this pain or are in the process of getting out your fall footwear, keep these tips in mind:

 

  • Ensure that your closed toe shoes fit comfortably and don’t compress the toes too much — especially when wearing heels or pointy dress shoes. Wider shoes are less likely to aggravate Morton’s Neuroma.
  • Give your feet a chance to breathe throughout the day — when sitting for longer periods of time, remove your shoes, flex your toes and and give your feet a quick massage if you have time.
  • If you’re over weight, some weight loss can help remove the strain on your feet.

 

If you’re a dedicated fashionista and can’t give up your heels or tighter shoes for something more practical, visit your Toronto foot care specialist for custom orthotics, or even a shoe fitting. If the damage is already done, you may need to consider surgery to remove the damaged nerve or to create space around it to lessen irritation.

 

If you have questions about Morton’s Neuroma or foot pain in general, contact Toronto Podiatrist Chris Hastings and he’ll get your feet into top shape in no time.

Heel Pain Can Be Prevented

One of the most common complaints I see in my podiatry clinic week in and week out is heel pain — better known as plantar fasciitis. As my patients bring out their fall footwear, their heel pain tends to increase, and often high heels, pumps and closed-toe flat dress shoes with little to no cushioning are the culprits.

How do I know if I have plantar fasciitis?
Your heel pain will come on gradually.
You’ll feel pain closer to the front of your heel
Your pain will be more prevalent in the morning when you get up from sleeping, or when you stand up after sitting for a long time

When my patients complain of these symptoms, I do a routine examination and can usually diagnose the condition quite quickly. I assess the amount of time the patient spends sitting and standing, what types of physical activity the patient does, and I look at the types of footwear the patient typically uses.

Treatments plans will vary depending on the severity of the plantar fasciitis. I will suggest pain killers — typically NSAIDS — and lots of rest that includes applying cold ice packs to the affected heel. If needed, I will prescribe custom orthotics to help correct foot faults and add cushioning to the heel, or show the patient how to apply athletic taping to stabilize and support the foot. There are a number of stretches that can help heal plantar fasciitis, and I will recommend more appropriate footwear that will prevent plantar fasciitis from flaring up again once healed.

If you suspect you are suffering from plantar fasciitis, don’t wait — contact my podiatry clinic at Yonge and King today and we’ll give you help for your heels!

What is Foot Drop?

Foot drop, or drop foot, is the general term used for difficulty in lifting the front part of the foot. It is characterized by a dragging of the front of the foot, resulting in gait abnormalities. Usually occurring in only one foot, those with foot drop might overcompensate when they walk by lifting their thigh higher than normal and then slapping their foot down to propel themselves forward. This can cause further damage to the foot and nerves, making the condition even more difficult.  

Foot drop is typically a symptom of a greater health issues in most cases, such as an underlying anatomical, neurological or muscular condition. It can be temporary or permanent, but almost always requires that the patient wears a brace to help hold the ankle and foot in the correct position.

Those who are at higher risk of developing foot drop include people who frequently cross their legs, kneel for extended periods of time, or have had to wear their leg in a cast. It is also prevalent in those with diabetes, Parkinson’s, a lower back condition, Multiple sclerosis, a stroke or tumour, or a previous injury.

If you think you might be suffering from foot drop, try this quick test at home: walk on your heels, keeping your toes up. If this proves to be difficult or impossible, the condition might be present, and it is imperative that you see your podiatrist right away. Contact our foot clinic for further diagnosis and treatment.

Do You Suffer from Unstable Ankles?

Chronic ankle instability is one of the most common ankle issues we see at our downtown Toronto foot clinic. It is characterized by a recurring “giving away” of the ankle, or sudden rolling of the ankle when walking, running, hiking, and sometimes when even just standing. Those who suffer from ankle instability also complain of chronic swelling or discomfort, pain, and a “wobbly” or weak feeling in their ankles.

 

Unstable ankles are commonly seen in athletes and active people who have sprained or injured their ankles in the past, and haven’t had the opportunity to heal properly or fully rehabilitate. When this happens, the ligaments in the ankle are stretched or torn, making the ankle more susceptible to further sprains, rolls, or tearing. These repeated strains lead to chronic ankle instability.

At our Toronto foot clinic, we diagnose unstable ankles by understanding a thorough history of our patients’ ankle problems, examining the foot and ankle for pain, tenderness and swelling, and conducting stress tests on the ligaments to determine where and how severe the ankle instability is. In some instances we will x-ray the ankle to determine severity and to check for abnormalities such as arthritis.

 

If you suspect you have unstable ankles, contact us today for an examination and diagnosis. With the proper treatment, you’ll be able to avoid further damage to your ankles, and will be able to safely take part in the activities you enjoy doing.

Wear Sandals This Summer Without Sacrificing Style

Supportive summer footwear isn’t always easy to find. From flip flops to ballet flats to strappy heels, summer shoes generally aren’t made for walking long distances — they lack support and comfort, and are designed with the heat in mind rather than the needs of the foot. Because of this, oftentimes our clients find themselves sacrificing comfort for style.

 

With that in mind, our downtown Toronto podiatry clinic has developed a way to help you find your footing this summer, without forcing you to choose summer shoes that you don’t like. We’re now offering custom orthotics for sandals with a removable footbed that can be swapped into your other flat pairs of summer shoes as well.

 

Podiatrist Chris Hastings will ship your sandals and foot cast from our downtown Toronto foot clinic to our custom orthotic specialist. From there, our specialist will match your removable orthotic to the colour of your sandal so that you can still look stylish, but be comfortable at the same time.

 

So, bring out your best, and most fashionable summer sandals and have them fitted with a custom orthotic that will not only allow you to look great this summer, but also feel comfortable all day long as well.

 

Contact us for more information or to book your appointment today.

Taking Care of Runner’s Feet

With the warm weather finally here, we’re starting to see more and more runners hitting the pavement on the sidewalks and streets. Some might be getting ready for race season (marathons and half-marathons), while others might try to get in 15-20km per week to stay in shape and keep up their cardiovascular health.

 

If you’re a runner, you know that taking care of your body — stretching your muscles, keeping your core strong, and staying hydrated — is imperative. But because there are so many parts of the body to focus on as an athlete, whether professional or amateur, many runners tend to ignore the health of their feet, despite the fact that when running, our feet absorb more force than any other part of our body.

 

So whatever your running speed, style and reasons might be, foot care and foot health should be at the top of your list when it comes to maintaining your overall running health. Foot problems caused by running can also lead to painful or injured shins, knees, hips and lower back.

 

To help keep your feet fit for running this spring and summer, the podiatrists in our downtown Toronto foot clinic have put together these top three tips for foot health:

 

  1. Find the right fit. Running shoes come in many shapes, sizes, patterns and colours. It can be tempting to buy the most stylish shoes or ones that you’ve seen advertised. But the prettiest and most popular shoes might not be doing you any favours. Many specialty running shoe stores have professionals on hand who can look at your feet and recommend the best type of shoe for your foot. Working with a professional in this way can help prevent injury and foot pain. If you don’t have a store like this near you, or if you’re still unsure about the shoe that’s best for your foot type, visit us at our Toronto podiatry clinic and we’ll recommend the right shoes for you. We can even fit you with custom orthotics if you need extra support for your runs. 
  2. Choose the right socks. Improper sock choice can be just as pain-inducing as poor running shoe choice, especially if you’re running longer distances. Socks that are the wrong size or that fit poorly are the leading cause of blisters, as are some cotton socks and socks that become wet from sweating. Acrylic, nylon, or merino socks are available for runners, with different thicknesses and weights. If you do have very sweaty feet, you run the risk of developing a fungal infection, making sock choice even more imperative. Ask your podiatrist which socks are best for you. If you do suspect you have athlete’s foot (a foot fungus), contact our podiatry clinic for help.
  3. Keep your feet strong. Just as you do exercises to keep your arms, legs and core strong, your feet can benefit from strength training too. Toe rises (rising up on your toes), heel drops (standing on your toes and dropping your heels), toe grabs (grabbing a piece of paper or pencil with your toes) and towel pulls (putting a towel under your toes and  are all names of various exercises your feet can benefit from.

 

Keeping your feet fit, comfortable, and injury-free will help you run longer, faster and for the whole summer season, without having to worry about pain.

 

If you have questions or pain this summer sunning season, contact our downtown Toronto foot clinic for help!

How to Prevent and Treat Foot Blisters

With the winter quickly coming to an end (this year we didn’t have much of a winter to begin with!), you’re probably eager to put away your winter boots so you can dust off your rubber boots (for all the sloppy rain we’re getting) and spring shoes. You might even be tempted to do a little shoe shopping so you’re on-trend for the new season.

 

Changing footwear or buying new shoes means that your feet will need to get accustomed to the new and different shoes you choose to put on your feet. If you don’t give your shoes a chance to mould to the current shape of your feet, you might be in for a painful awakening: blisters.

 

Everyone, we’re certain, has experienced blisters on the back of their heels, side of their big or little toes, or bottom of their feet at some point in their lives. Blisters can develop quickly and last for a few days to a week depending on their severity, but they can also be easily prevented.

 

Blisters are small bubbles of fluid (serum or plasma) that develop in the top layers of the skin. They’re usually caused by friction, burning or freezing. The fluid build-up is there to protect deeper levels of the skin, but with excessive friction, blisters can burst and the raw skin underneath can become infected.

 

So how can you ensure you stay blister-free this spring? Toronto podiatrist Chris Hastings shares these top 5 tips for preventing foot blisters:

 

  1. Wear shoes that fit well. Anything too tight or too loose will cause excessive friction, which will lead to a blister. Shoes that squeeze your feet or taper at the toes, such as many high heels and dress shoes, will be more likely to cause a blister. Try to choose something with a rounded or square toe to avoid pinching and squeezing.
  2. Proper socks are important too. Cotton absorbs moisture best and will reduce friction. If you’re hiking or walking or running long distances, you might want to consider wearing two pairs of socks — a very thin wicking sock first, with a thicker cotton sock over top. Wear shoes that provide decent ventilation, made from canvas, leather, mesh or other breathable materials.
  3. It might be tempting to wear your new shoes for long periods of time (for example, to work, a night out, or walking or running long distances), but at our Toronto foot clinic, we recommend that you break in new shoes. Wear them for 1-2 hours at a time so that the shoes can gradually mould to the shape of your feet. After a few wears they will be good to go for longer periods.
  4. Insoles and custom orthotics will certainly help prevent blisters if you have a job that puts you on your feet all day. At our downtown Toronto podiatry clinic, Chris Hastings, DMP, can assess your feet and create custom orthotics specific to your feet.
  5. If you know you are prone to foot blisters, apply a lubricant such as Vaseline to your known problem areas. This will lessen friction. You can also tape the sensitive areas of your feet using Moleskin or Band-Aids to protect your feet from any chafing.

 

If you are unsure of the fit of your shoes, or have recurring blisters, contact Chris Hastings at his Toronto podiatry clinic today.

Footcare

Athlete’s Foot isn’t just for athletes: symptoms and prevention

Tinea Pedis — aka athlete’s foot — is a very common fungal infection that can affect anyone. Although it’s named after more active folks — athletes — as they are often more likely to contract the fungus, anyone who frequents public places, such as locker rooms, gyms, swimming pools and shared showers, can find themselves with the fungus.

 

Athlete’s foot can also be caused by sweaty feet, wearing wet shoes or socks for long periods of time, wearing tight, closed toe shoes, or sharing towels or socks with an infected person.

 

If you have itching, stinging or burning anywhere on your feet, particularly in between your toes or on the bottoms of your feet, you might have athlete’s foot. Other symptoms that might indicate you have the fungus include dry, cracked or peeling skin; discoloured toenails or toenails that pull away easily from the nail bed; or itchy blisters or rasa skin on the feet. At our Toronto podiatry clinic, we can help fix toenails that are particularly damaged by athlete’s foot.

 

If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, contact your podiatrist for a confirmed diagnosis. Although athlete’s foot isn’t serious, you might need a prescription medication such as an anti fungal to get rid of the fungus entirely.

 

In the meantime, if you do suspect you have athlete’s foot, avoid sharing towels, socks and nail clippers and if you live with family members, reduce the spread of the fungus by using your own shower mat and cleaning the shower stall or bathtub after each use.

 

To prevent further cases of athlete’s foot, our downtown Toronto foot clinic recommends the following:

 

  • Wash and dry your feet thoroughly after bathing
  • Use an antifungal powder on your feet if you’re prone to athlete’s foot
  • Wear sandals or flip flops at public pools, locker rooms and public showers
  • Wear breathable socks, made from cotton or wicking material, and change your socks if you have sweaty feet
  • Alternate between two pairs of shoes so that you’re not wearing the same shoes everyday, giving your footwear a chance to breathe and dry out
  • Never share towels, socks, toenail clippers or pedicure tools

 

If you’d like more information about what you can do to treat or prevent athlete’s foot, contact our podiatry clinic  today.

What’s Causing My Foot Pain?

Do you easily get tired, achy feet, but you’re not sure why? If you’re otherwise healthy but often have pain in your feet, particularly in your heels and inner foot, you may have flat feet, otherwise known as fallen arches.

 

Other symptoms of flat feet or fallen arches might include pain in your legs and back, swelling in the bottom or sides of your feet, and pain if you stand on your tiptoes.

 

Fallen arches are characterized by very low arches or no arches at all. For some people, flat feet cause no pain, but for others, pain can be amplified just by walking.

 

Fallen arches/flat feet can be caused by stretched tendons, broken bones, nerve problems, and can even be associated with obesity, pregnancy, ageing and diabetes. Some people are born with flat feet.

 

You can do a quick test at home to see if you’ve got flat feet — first, take off your shoes and socks and get your feet wet. Then, stand on a large enough piece of paper to fit your full foot, a thin dark towel or dark floor, and carefully step off so you can see your whole footprint. If you can see only your toe prints, heel print, and a thin strip of the outside of your foot, you probably don’t have flat feet. But, if you’ve left behind a print of your entire foot, then it’s quite possible that you do, especially if your feet often hurt.

 

So what are the next “steps” you can take? Toronto foot care specialist, Chris Hastings, DPM, recommends visiting your podiatrist for treatment. Your podiatrist will assess your feet by looking at your stance, gait, and might even take X-rays of your feet. Once assessed, your DPM might give you specific foot stretches to do, recommend rest or icing procedures to reduce inflammation, prescribe pain relief medication, or even fit you with custom orthotics — all depending on the severity of your fallen arches. If pain is very severe, your podiatrist might even recommend surgical correction.

 

Contact our downtown Toronto foot clinic to have your feet assessed.

Top 3 Signs You Might Have Diabetic Foot Problems

In our downtown Toronto foot clinic, we consult with a lot of diabetic patients. There are certain foot problems that are unique to diabetic patients, due to the high levels of glucose that can occur in the blood. These problems include nerve damage and peripheral vascular disease, a condition that results from poor circulation.

 

So how can you tell if you have foot problems associated with diabetes? Here are some of the top signs to look out for:

 

  1. Change in foot shape, or differing shape between your two feet. Swollen feet or redness can be a sign of ill-fitting shoes or infection.
  2. Tingling, numbness or pain. If you can’t feel your feet properly, or if they feel like heavy bricks, seek a podiatrist’s advice as soon as you can.
  3. Sores or blisters that aren’t healing quickly, or unusually cracked or callused feet. If you do get a sore on your foot, wash it with warm water and try to avoid too much walking. Your podiatrist can help dress your wound as well as recommend the right shoes for you that will reduce pain and friction.

 

If you’re diabetic, it’s very important you check your feet on a regular basis — we know that sometimes the feet are the last parts of your body you’re worried about. Remember that your feet get you from A to B, and there’s no reason for any discomfort or pain.

 

At our foot clinic, we teach our diabetic patients to identify the signs and symptoms to look out for, manage callouses and cracks, and we help keep toe nails neat and trim.

 

If you suspect you might have any foot problems associated with diabetes, contact our Toronto podiatry clinic to speak with podiatrist Chris Hastings, DPM.