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Health & Wellness

Health & Wellness Articles and Posts

Here you will find articles and blog posts relating to topics of general health & wellness, with an emphasis on foot health.

Diabetes and your feet

Diabetes and Your Feet

By General Podiatry, Health & Wellness

According to the CDC, over 100 million Americans currently have diabetes or prediabetes. The most common (and dangerous) type of diabetes, Type 2, occurs when the body becomes resistant to insulin. Or, when your pancreas can’t produce enough of it.

The body needs a certain amount of insulin in order to function properly. Insulin allows the cells within your body to absorb glucose, which provides energy. When the body doesn’t have enough insulin, glucose can’t move freely around these cells, causing high glucose levels within the body that can eventually lead to diabetes.

Common Signs of Diabetes

Diabetes affects people differently. Not everyone has the same signs. But, some of the most common symptoms include:

  • Frequent urination
  • Constant thirst
  • Weight loss
  • Blurry vision
  • Fatigue
  • Very dry skin
  • Sores that heal slowly

Another common sign of diabetes is the feeling of numbness in your hands or feet. If you’ve been a diabetic for a while, you have probably already heard about the importance of taking care of your feet. But, do you know why?

That numbness/tingling sensation in your feet isn’t just annoying. It can create major issues, and some people can develop serious foot problems or may even have to lose a toe or a foot.

That shouldn’t scare you. Instead, it should let you know how important it is to consistently monitor your feet, and how important it is to take proper care of them.

How Does Diabetes Affect Your Feet?

One of the risks of diabetes is nerve damage. As stated above, that damage is often most notable in the hands and feet. This is a condition known as diabetic neuropathy. This condition can cause you to lose feeling in your feet, which makes it easier to get injured. For example, if you happen to get a cut or scrape on your foot, you may not feel it, so you won’t pay attention to it. As a result, it can become easily infected and lead to even bigger problems.

Your risk of infection is often greater if you have diabetes because it can slow down blood flow to your feet. So, not only is it easier for a sore to get infected, but it’s often harder to treat. An infection that doesn’t heal can lead to gangrene, which is often when a toe or the foot itself needs to be amputated.

How to Check Your Feet Each Day

One of the easiest ways to prevent foot issues when you have diabetes is to check the condition of your feet every day. While even just giving them a quick glance-over is better than nothing, it’s easier if you know what to look for. Pay close attention to things like:

  • Red spots
  • Sores
  • Cuts/scrapes
  • Swelling
  • Blisters
  • Ingrown toenails
  • Calluses
  • Warm spots

A warm spot or area somewhere on your foot can sometimes be an indicator of a blister or ulcer that is just starting. Catching it early can make it easier to treat.

If you want more information on how to thoroughly examine your feet, check out the video below from The University of Vermont Medical Center.

How to Take Care of Your Feet

In addition to examining your feet each day, there are regular care activities that you should perform to keep your feet in good shape and to remain healthy. Thankfully, if you put these practices into your normal routine, they won’t take much time, and they can make a big difference in your overall foot health.

Wash Your Feet Each Day

How often do you take the time to actually wash your feet when you’re in the shower or bath? You should be spending a few minutes each day actually washing then with warm (not hot) water, especially between your toes.

Perhaps just as important as washing them is drying them thoroughly. Moisture that gets trapped on your feet or between your toes can lead to fungal infections. Additionally, if your feet tend to get sweaty throughout the day, sprinkling them with a bit of talcum powder can help to keep them dry and reduce the risk of a fungus.

Trim Your Toenails the Right Way

Many people think you’re supposed to trim your toenails in a “curved” shape to match the toes themselves. But, this can put you at a greater risk of experiencing an ingrown toenail, which can lead to different types of infections. You also risk cutting your skin.

Instead, trim your toenails straight across and smooth them out with an emery board. If you choose to get a pedicure somewhere, it’s a smart idea to bring your own tools along, rather than risk using tools that could be contaminated.

Protect Your Feet

When you have diabetes, protecting your feet every day should be a top priority. For starters, make sure you’re wearing shoes and/or socks as often as possible – even in your own home.

When you walk around barefoot, you’re at a greater risk of stepping on something or cutting your skin. As you now know, that can lead to an infection, which could cause even bigger issues. Just make sure you’re wearing shoes that allow your feet to “breathe,” so moisture doesn’t accumulate inside.

In addition to protecting your feet from objects, it’s also important to protect them from extreme temperatures. Put sunscreen on your feet if they’re exposed outside, don’t dip them into extremely hot water, and wear shoes on hot sand or pavement.

Keeping fit and healthy for diabetes preventionBoosting Circulation to Your Feet

Finally, you can take care of your feet by keeping the blood flowing. There are easy ways to do this, including:

  • Propping your feet up when you’re sitting
  • Remaining physically active
  • Moving your ankles and toes throughout the day

If you’re experiencing any diabetic foot problems or pain, the best thing you can do is to see a doctor immediately. If you’re concerned about the general care and health of your feet as a diabetic, feel free to contact Caruso Foot and Ankle to schedule an appointment as soon as possible. We are happy to work with you to ensure your feet stay healthy – so the rest of you remains healthy, too!

Winter Sports Injuries

Winter Sports Injuries and How to Avoid Them

By Health & Wellness

Whether you exercise in the summer or winter, healthy feet keep you active. Most people associate many foot problems with summer. But foot problems can also arise in the winter if the feet are not properly cared for. Winter sports injuries can include blisters, strains, sprains, calluses, athlete’s foot, frostbite and even fractures.

Hitting The Slopes

One of the most exhilarating winter sports is skiing. Whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned skier, it’s important to make sure you are in good shape for the sport. This means that you will need to train properly before you hit the slopes. To get in shape, and to prevent winter sports injuries, experts recommend strength training. Focus on your quads, glutes, hip muscles, back, neck, and core. It’s also essential to stretch right before any type of physical activity.  In cold weather, muscles take longer to warm up.

It’s important to wear properly fitted ski boots and adding insoles for support.  The right footwear will also ward off a host of other foot problems such as blisters and calluses. The warm, moist environment of ski boots is the perfect breeding ground for athlete’s foot too. Make sure you invest in a few pairs of thick nylon, acrylic, polyester or even merino wool socks like Smartwool. They will keep your feet at the right temperature. Also, moisturize your skin regularly, because dry, cracked skin, will lead to painful heel cracks and calluses.

Winter Appropriate Gear

If you not a skier, and just enjoy taking long walks in the winter, it’s also important to dress appropriately. Wear properly-fitted footwear that will keep you from falling.  You may want to use ice grips or traction devices that easily attach to the bottoms of shoes or boots to help prevent slipping on icy surfaces. If you go ice skating and are wearing rental ice skates, it’s important to get fitted and wear thick padded socks to prevent rubbing, and to lace the skates up tightly around the ankle to prevent sprains.

Ice Skating Ankle InjuryAlso, the right socks, boots, and shoes will make all the difference in not only your level of enjoyment and your workout, but your safety. Boots and shoes that are too tight or too loose can cause calluses or blisters as your feet are exposed to repeated friction or pressure as you move.  A good way to prevent or avoid foot problems such as blisters is to make sure you wash your feet every day and dry them thoroughly after you exercise. If you have diabetes or peripheral arterial disease you are also at higher risk for frostbite because the circulation to your legs and feet may be compromised.

Ice Skating Clothing and Proper Fitting Ice SkatesKnee and Ankle Injuries

Winter sports can also be hard on your ankles and knees. Your ankles and knees act as both your shock absorbers and your brakes as you ski, skate, or snowboard, and they also help you steer and accelerate when whizzing down the slopes or circling an ice-skating rink, so they must be protected.  It is recommended to use knee braces for winter sports such as skiing and snowboarding.

To reduce your chance of suffering a knee inquiry, always make sure your ski bindings are property adjusted for your skill level. The higher your ability, the tighter your bindings should be.  And, if possible, work on falling to the side instead of backwards or forwards because this is less traumatic for your knees. Ankle sprains and fractures are more common in snowboarders because they do more twisting. A good way to avoid ankle injuries is to work on your balance proprioception with a wobble board. Wearing sports insoles, and/or ankle tape can also help prevent winter sports injuries as well.

Protect Yourself

We’ve talked about protection and touched on prevention. But one of the one of the most important things you need to do is to wear a helmet. A minor fall can turn into a major injury when your head is involved. And, if you are injured, don’t let it go. Follow up and visit your doctor as soon as possible. Because a minor pain can turn into something bigger if it’s not addressed.

Child Ski Boots and GearPlease feel free to Contact Us with any questions on winter sports injuries of the foot and ankle, or you can Make An Appointment to see Dr. Caruso.

Proper Footwear and Health

Proper Footwear Is Essential To Overall Health

By Health & Wellness, Running

The average person will walk 150,000 miles in their lifetime. That’s the equivalent of walking around the earth six times. So, an important question becomes: When is the last time you thought about proper footwear and the health of your feet as the key to your overall physical and mental health?

Proper Footwear And Your Health

It may seem like a strange question but think about what your life would be like if you could only walk or stand for short periods of time without pain. Limited mobility would affect your independence by impeding your physical activities and curtailing your social life. Unfortunately, it happens every day. We are constantly bombarded with messages about our blood pressure, cholesterol levels, the importance of a healthy diet and even how to feed our brains to ward off dementia, but we rarely get messages about foot health. The foot is a biomedical marvel with 26 bones and 33 joints, working together to provide balance, stability, and locomotion. Today, start thinking about the shoes that you wear as shock absorbers, much like the shocks on your car.

Footwear is your first line of defense against the wear and tear of an active lifelong lifestyle. Proper footwear provides not only protection, but helps you maintain your balance and posture and prevent falls. They also help prevent conditions such as bunions, plantar fasciitis and calluses. A good pair of shoes or sneakers helps reduce the impact of your step, which is 1.5 times your body weight if you are walking and 7.9 times your body weight if you are running.

What Does Proper Footwear Feel Like?

That depends on what you are doing. Footwear has come a long way over the last twenty years. You can now buy shoes tailored to specific activities such as running, walking or tennis. The rule of thumb is that if you are doing the same kind of exercise three times a week, then buy the shoe for that exercise. A great shoe will fit you properly and be comfortable to wear. It will have good arch support and leave enough room for you to move your toes. The rule of thumb here is to bend the shoe to make sure that it is not too flexible, because that indicates a lack of support. You should also never buy a pair of shoes that feel uncomfortable in the store. The old wives’ tale that you “can break them in” has led to much misery and unworn shoes!

Orthotics And Arch Support

Powersteps arch supports

If you have fallen arches, high arches or plantar fasciitis, you should be fitted for orthotics by a physician. The consensus for orthotics is that if you have constant foot, hip or knee pain, custom orthotics may be necessary. If orthotics are not available to you, try a podiatry approved insert like Powersteps as a good alternative. With or without orthotics, it’s important to replace old shoes every four to five months. Check the midsole of the shoe because it shows damage sooner than the bottom tread.

Even if you’re not an athlete it’s important to make sure that you make proper footwear a part of your wardrobe. Invest in good quality shoes, there are many styles, aside from athletic shoes, on the market today. Form has in fact caught up with function. It used to be rare to be able to find built in arch support in dress or casual shoes. However that is an option now in many brands of shoes. It’s helpful to stick with brands that you know work for you.

This article is part of the Discussion Series on Running Injuries. Please feel free to Contact Us with any questions or you can Make An Appointment to see Dr. Caruso.

Stretching and foot health

The Importance Of Stretching For Healthy Feet

By Health & Wellness, Running

Remember those gym classes in junior high and high school? Back in the day, a gym teacher was always a pumped-up fitness jock who took themselves and exercise very seriously. You, on the other hand, were just there to hang out with friends and hopefully, not be chosen last for any of the teams. Surprisingly, it was probably there that you developed a lifelong flirtation with exercise. One thing we weren’t taught in those classes is the importance of stretching for healthy feet. For athletes and moderate exercisers alike, (even if you just walk a mile a day), the benefits of moving provide a big payoff in the health lottery.  Yet to keep mobility, you must be mindful of how you treat your feet, and prepare them a lifetime of movement.

Stretching For Healthy Feet

One of the most overlooked benefits of stretching is foot health. We demand a lot from our feet and use them extensively every single day. According to the College of Podiatry, “a person will walk an estimated 150,000 miles in their lifetime“, roughly the equivalent of walking around the world six times! All that stress of carrying you around takes its toll and puts your feet at special risk for injuries or inflammation. Thus the importance of stretching for healthy feet.

Some common foot problems are Plantar Fasciitis, Achilles Tendonitis, Posterior Tibial Tendonitis and many others. Improper footwear is also a big culprit in foot problems and pain. Most foot exercises are simple and easy to do and increase the range of motion in the feet. They say that “age makes us all equal” and that is nowhere truer than foot health. The feet are a marvel and contain 26 bones, 42 muscles, 33 joints and 50 ligaments and when healthy, work like a well-oiled machine to get you where you are going.

The importance of stretching as we age

Exercise philosophy has come a long way, and we now understand that stretching is an important part of any exercise or rehabilitation program. The “warm up” as stretching is known, keeps the muscles flexible, healthy, and strong and we need that to maintain a range of motion in our joints. If we don’t stretch our muscles shorten and become tight and when that happens, one wrong move can spell trouble. As we age, this flexibility can be the difference between an active or inactive daily lifestyle. Flexible muscles help you bend down to pick up that package, play with your grandchildren, or catch your dog as it runs away from you. Stretching improves circulation and increases blood flow to your muscles. It also improves posture by keeping your muscles loose, and good posture is important in keeping aches and pain away and preventing falls as you get older.

Some tips to successful stretching for healthy feet include:

  • Focusing on major muscles groups such as the feet, calves, hips, back, shoulders and neck
  • Perform exercises such as:
    • Calf and heel stretches
    • Towel stretch
    • Toe curls
    • A yoga pose called Virasana or the “hero’s pose”
    • You can Contact Us for additional guidance and stretching exercises
  • Don’t bounce. Bouncing can tear muscles and cause tight muscles
  • If it hurts, stop. Pain means you are pushing too far
  • Hold stretches for 30 seconds
  • Relax and breathe deeply as you stretch, take your time
  • Make this time a daily meditation and an important part of a healthy lifestyle

This article is part of the Discussion Series on Running Injuries. Please feel free to Contact Us with any questions or you can Make An Appointment to see Dr. Caruso.

 

Frostbite

Frostbite

By Health & Wellness

Frostbite

With the bomb cyclone and severe winter temperatures over the weekend, frostbite is definitely something to worry about. But what exactly is frostbite? Here we discuss frostbite symptoms, prevention measures and how to treat frostbite.

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marathon runners

Discussion Series on Running Injuries

By Health & Wellness, Running

Running Injuries Presentation for the FARC

Running Injuries Freehold, NJRecently Dr. Caruso was invited by the Freehold Area Running Club (FARC) to give a presentation on the prevention and treatment of running related foot injuries. It was held immediately after one of their local running events at the Michael J. Tighe Park in Freehold, NJ. It was a great opportunity for the FARC members to directly interact with Dr. Caruso with questions and to share their personal experiences with running injuries. Dr. Caruso is an avid runner herself. It was easy to both share her knowledge as a doctor, and share her own personal experiences with foot injuries she has sustained during running events. Read More

CoLig-10

CoLig 10 | Foot Pain Remedy As A Natural Alternative

By Health & Wellness

CoLig 10 Supplement To Relieve Foot Pain

Caruso Foot & Ankle now offers a new treatment for patients with foot pain that prefer something natural. Anti-inflammatories, such as Motrin, Advil, or Aleve, can have unpleasant side effects. These can include painful gastrointestinal ulcers or bleeding. Even if patients take these drugs, they usually do not want to be on them long term. Read More