Everyday tips to take care of your feet

Our feet take us everywhere we need to go and as such, we should take care of them.  It isn’t difficult to set up a good foot care routine.  Following the items below will help prevent some of our most common foot problems.

  • Wash your feet with soap and water to make sure you get in and between toes. For extra pampering, soak your feet once a week in warm water with a few drops of peppermint or tea tree oil.  Use a pumice stone to gently exfoliate dead skin cells.
  • After washing, towel-dry your feet thoroughly. (Moisture between toes is a major cause of athletes’ foot).
  • Moisturize feet with a natural moisturizer.  Some brands are scented with mint or peppermint oil and others come in a rub-on stick, so they moisturize without making feet slippery.
  • Wear comfortable shoes and consider alternating pairs.  Don’t try to squeeze into a shoe that’s a half size too small, just because they’re just the style you like and on sale!  Also, having a spare pair to allow you’re the perspiration in your shoes to completely dry out for a day or so.

Finding the correct running and walking shoes

Finding the correct running shoe

Ill fitting shoes are the primary cause of many medical problems including corns, hammer toes, ingrown toenails, and bunions.  Your feet are counting on your shoe to protect your feet from hazards on the ground and to cushion your stride. The right shoe will also compensate for any imbalances in your form and keep you balanced. Many people buy shoes that are too small since they don’t factor in the spread of the foot when it strikes the surface of the ground.

Since there are so many factors involved in choosing the proper shoe, it’s best to turn to the experts.  There are shoe stores that specialize in running shoes and they may be your best bet in getting the correct shoe for your feet.  Be sure to consider the following: how far and often you run and on what surfaces. Make sure you walk around as much as possible before purchasing since you want to be sure the shoes don’t feel too tight or too loose.  Be sure to keep track of the date of purchase so that you don’t keep running shoes longer than six months or more than 500 miles.  As a final note, price does not necessarily indicate the quality of the shoe.

If you’re a walker…

There is a difference between walking shoes and running shoes.  The main distinction is the way the foot meets the ground.  In walking, the heel connects first then the foot rolls, lifting off the ground from the toes.  In running, the foot connects with the pavement either flat-footed or with the forefoot.  Walking shoes should have enough cushion to lessen the impact but not too much to make the shoe heavy during long walks.  Walking shoes should also have more flexibility at the forefoot for the roll.

Running is a high-impact sport and the shoes should have more cushion on the surface that connects with the ground.  This is why there is a flared heel on running shoes.  The part of the foot that impacts the ground first varies by individual.  Running shoes should also be flexible, but the point of most flexibility needed is determined by the point of impact of the individual runner.

Electric blankets and diabetes

Diabetes has many possible complications, including nerve damage (neuropathy). If a person has any degree of nerve damage, he or she may not be able to sense if an electric blanket or heating pad is too hot — which can lead to inadvertent burns. The same issue applies to water temperature when bathing.

If you have diabetes and would like to use an electric blanket, warm up your bed with the blanket before bedtime — then turn the blanket off or remove it from the bed before you climb in.

Foot resolutions

Tis the season for resolutions and our office would like you to remember your feet this season. We have ten tips to help keep your feet happy and healthy throughout 2014.

Keep your feet clean and dry. Any excess moisture between the toes can create a great environment for a fungal infection to begin.

Examine your feet for problems.

Cut toenails properly. Cut nails straight across and avoid trimming too close to the skin or drastically rounding the corners of the nails, which can cause painful, ingrown toenails.

Don’t hide “ugly” toenails with polish. Applying nail polish to an infected nail could make the problem worse.

Protect your feet in public areas. Be sure to wear shower shoes at the gym, in locker rooms, and at public pools.

Avoid sharing footgear.

Head off sweaty feet. Your feet have sweat glands galore — 250,000 in each foot! Perspiration creates the perfect environment for bacteria to set up shop.

Choose breathable footwear. To help keep your feet dry and healthy, wear shoes made of leather to allow air to circulate.

Wear shoes that fit properly. Shop for shoes at the end of the day to compensate for foot swelling that occurs later in the day, and wear the same type of socks or hosiery you’ll be wearing with the shoes.

Know when to see a doctor. Allowing a doctor to take a look will help prevent minor problems from becoming major ones

Toe fungus: What it is and how to prevent it

Fungus is not solely a summer problem. Toenail fungus thrives in wet or dry conditions. Gyms, saunas, and swimming pools are perfect places for the fungus to spread. It also can spread in dry conditions, like dry floors, linens and person-to-person contact.

The fungus makes your toenails thick and yellow. You may feel pain due to the thickening of the nail.

Prevention is key when thinking about toenail fungus. Remember to:

·         Wash and dry your feet thoroughly

·         Change socks and footwear regularly when your feet perspire

·         Wear breathable materials, such as cotton, mesh and leather

·         Avoid tight, synthetic shoes and socks

·         Always wear shoes – wear flip flops in communal showers

·         Clean bathroom floors, mats and tub surfaces regularly

Toenail fungus won’t go away by itself. Don’t run the risk of spreading it to others; if you notice toenail abnormalities, get it checked out!

Give those little toes some room to prevent hammer toes.

Although your toes are small, they are very mighty. Your toes help you balance, walk and run. We need to take care of them properly.  If your toes are being squished by your shoes, those toes can buckle. The joints become deformed and your toes begin to look like hammers.

This can cause your muscles and tendons to become imbalanced, which can mean quite a bit of pain. These misshapen toes can lead to corns on your feet.

Hammer toes need to be treated early to slow or stop the progression. In the early stages, your hammer toe might have a flexible joint, but as time passes and they are left untreated, the joint becomes rigid. For milder cases of hammer toe, I suggest a corrective treatment, like a corrective shoe or splint. If the hammer toe is severe, outpatient surgery may be required to loosen the joint.

Be aware of shoes that are too tight and take care of your toes! 

Most people think of tendonitis affecting the shoulders; did you know it can also affect your feet?

Do you feel pain in your feet or around your ankle after exercising? Running, walking, swimming and other activities can cause excessive strain on the tendons in your feet. Tendonitis can cause pain and, occasionally, swelling.

The most common cause of tendonitis in the feet is overuse. An increase in your exercise regimen can cause more strain on the tendons.

Before starting any physical activity, remember to stretch. Stretching your feet and ankles can help prevent tendonitis from developing. Also, be sure to wear properly fitting shoes. If you sense tendonitis symptoms, decrease your activity and apply cold compresses.

Recurring or severe pain may mean a rupture or tear in the tendon. Get your foot checked out if that happens.

Take it easy on your feet, and remember to stretch.

Dr. Smith P.C. and Audibel Hi-Tech Hearing Care Breaking Ground

Two local businesses, Audibel Hi-Tech Hearing Care and Dr. Kevin Smith P.C. are breaking ground on a new facility in the Valley View Drive Corridor of Moline, Illinois. Both businesses, currently neighbors at the Hamilton Heights Medical Building, are joining forces to build their own 4,000 square foot medical center. The official groundbreaking took place on the morning of October 7th, and construction will begin within the next few weeks.

James Hanerhoff, Audioprosthologist and President of Audibel Hi-Tech Hearing, is looking forward to this expansion. “It will offer both Dr. Smith and I the space we need to better serve our patients.  Both of our practices have the same goal; providing the best possible care based upon individual needs. This new facility will expand upon our abilities to accomplish that goal.”

The building will be located at on the corner of Valley View Drive and 36th Avenue/Harvest Drive. Construction will be completed by Daxon Construction and is expected to be completed March-April of 2014.

“I’ve worked next door to Audibel for years and am looking forward to our practices expanding into the new facility,” says Dr. Kevin Smith. “This is a great opportunity for both of us and the land allows us to build a facility that will suit both of our needs perfectly.”

Both practices provide care based upon the highest professional standards in their specialty. To learn more about Dr. Smith, please visit www.drsmithdpm.com or call 309-762-7919. For Audibel Hi-Tech Hearing Care, visit www.audibelhi-techhearing.com or call 309-764-3065.

Does your big toe turn red, swell and throb near the nail? What’s the culprit?

It may be an in-grown toenail; the result of your nail growing into the surrounding skin.

In-grown nails may be inherited or it may be due to injury, fungal infections or pressure on the toe. Improper trimming can also be the culprit. Whatever the cause, an untreated in-grown toenail can hurt from the tip to the base of the toe.  The pain usually flares up around the nail while you’re walking.

An in-grown toenail can become infected, especially diabetic individuals.  Evaluation and treatment are simple office procedures and sometimes include a trim or partial nail removal. A chemical can be applied to permanently prevent the in-grown part from coming back.

If you think you have an in-grown toenail, don’t wait for the pain to get worse and for an infection to set in.  Contact Dr. Smith’s office for an appointment

What is a wart? How did I get one? Will it go away on its own?

A wart is a small, hard, benign growth on the skin, caused by a virus.  Warts are ugly, persistent and contagious.  They can occur on both the top and bottom of the foot. Plantar warts are usually flat and wide with a rough surface raised above the skin’s surface.

Warts are caused by a virus that invades the skin and can be avoided by wearing shoes at all times.  This virus thrives in warm, moist environments such as gyms, locker rooms and showers.  Warts can more easily affect children, teens, and people with conditions like allergies or immune system deficiencies. 

Warts can go away on their own, but it may take months or even years. If you have a wart on your foot, do not touch or scratch the wart. We will be able to tell if we need to medicate the wart to remove it or remove it physically with a special instrument