Taking care of your feet and ankles during the summertime was the topic of a recent Talking Health program on News Radio 1240 KQEN.
Podiatrists Dr. Brandon Bishop and Dr. Micah Tovey were interviewed by host Lisa Platt about how to deal with some of the common foot injuries.
The following is an edited version of the podcast.
Lisa: Dr. Tovey, tell us why our feet are so important?
Dr. Tovey: Obviously if your feet aren’t healthy and are hurting it’s hard to keep moving. If you’re not active, you start to lose cardiovascular strength in particular. So feet can be important. If they’re healthy and strong and helpful, you shouldn’t have to think about them.
Dr. Bishop: It’s very difficult to rest your feet because most of us are on our feet all day long. If your feet are painful it can affect your attitude, even your mental health.
Lisa: What are some of the most common foot injuries?
Dr. Bishop: I seem to have a more people with plantar fasciitis and Achilles tendinitis, tendon strains and over-use injuries. But generally we see everything from bunions, hammertoes, fractures, plantar fasciitis, heel pain, Achilles tendonitis, ankle sprains, ankle fractures, and we do surgery on all of those including ankle arthroscopy and ankle replacement and flat foot reconstruction.
Lisa: Talk about ankle reconstruction.
Dr. Bishop: It could be everything from ankle arthroscopy and a replacing or repairing or tightening up some of the ligaments on the inside or outside of the ankle. Or it could be ankle fusion, even replacing the ankle. Taking an arthritic or damaged joint out and replacing it with an artificial joint to increase the movement can restore the quality of life.
Lisa: Dr. Bishop, what is hammertoe?
Dr. Bishop: A hammertoe deformity is a contracture at one of the joints of the toe and typically it’s the first knuckle. It can involve the second knuckle as well and it’s a flexible or even rigid contracture that joins. They can be painful. Treatment includes everything from taping it in the correct position, to surgery where you correct it to help the toe lay flat.
Lisa: How can we prevent getting foot or ankle injuries?
Dr. Bishop: I think the number one thing people can do is invest in and wear good shoes. Often times people wear shoes that they think look nice but aren’t necessarily functional for them. It’s also important to wear shoes the majority of the time, even inside your house. Bottom line is that it’s harder to protect your feet if you’re not wearing shoes.
Dr. Tovey: We can avoid expensive medical treatment with a decent pair of shoes that may cost you a little bit more than you normally would spend.
Lisa: What does a podiatry appointment look like?
Dr. Bishop: If x-rays are needed, we get them first and then we evaluate the patient. We talk about the deformity or the source of the pain. And then we talk about treatment options, including nonsurgical and surgical treatment options. I’m big on patients making their own decisions for their health care. My job is to help patients make the best well educated decision for themselves.
Lisa: Dr. Tovey, why is foot care so important for somebody who is a diabetic?
Dr. Tovey: One of the things that happens most frequently is patients with diabetes start to lose sensitivity and sensation in their feet. If you can’t feel your feet, you can’t protect them. Something as simple as a little pebble in your shoe on a hike, would cause most of us to stop and take it out, but a diabetic patient with some neuropathy wouldn’t notice it. That pebble then stays in the shoe and causes a small blister, which also goes unnoticed. The trouble really starts when that blister gets infected. Those are the sorts of things, even though they start out small, that cause amputation and worse.
Lisa: If somebody is feeling like that’s describing (them) or they can’t feel the bottoms of their feet or they’re tingling, would the first step be going to your primary care provider to find out if you might have diabetes?
Dr. Tovey: Absolutely. Get in and get checked out. Better safe than sorry.
Dr. Bishop: The primary care providers in this area do a great job of trying to get people’s diabetes under control, trying to get the proper medications to individuals. But individuals need to take the ownership of the situation and help themselves as well.
Technology has gotten better and surgery has gotten better and now some of the surgeries that used to be more risky in the past have gotten much, much better. Just because you have pain, it doesn’t mean you should always have pain. There’s a lot of things people can do and a lot of things that we can do to help with that pain, whether it be surgical or nonsurgical, whether it be medications or corticosteroid injections or orthotics.