Foot & Ankle Specialist
Gout, typically found in diabetic patients, is an unusually painful form of arthritis caused by elevated levels of uric acid in the bloodstream. The condition typically strikes the big joint on the big toe. It has also been known to strike the knees, elbows, fingers, ankles and wrists—generally anywhere that has a functioning, moving joint.
The high level of uric acid in a person’s bloodstream creates the condition known as hyperuricema—the main cause of gout. Genetic predisposition occurs in nine out of ten sufferers. The children of parents who suffer gout will have a two in ten chance of developing the condition as well.
This form of arthritis, being particularly painful, is the leftover uric acid crystallizing in the blood stream. The crystallized uric acid then travels to the space between joints where they rub, causing friction when the patient moves. Symptoms include: pain, redness, swelling, and inflammation. Additional side effects may include fatigue and fever, although reports of these effects are very rare. Some patients have reported that pain may intensify when the temperature drops, such as when you sleep.
Most cases of gout are easily diagnosed by a podiatrist’s assessment of the various symptoms. Defined tests can also be performed. A blood test to detect elevated levels of uric acid is often used as well as an x-ray to diagnose visible and chronic gout.
Treatment for gout simply means eliminating symptoms. Non-steroid anti-inflammatory drugs or NSAIDs (Colchicine and other corticosteroid drugs, etc.) will quell the redness, the swelling, and the inflammation. However, managing your diet, lifestyle changes, and using preventative drugs are all helpful toward fully combating the most severe cases.
Those that lead an inactive lifestyle are at a higher risk for gout. Any amount of exercise decreases the probability of repeat encounters with the condition. Reducing your consumption of red meat, sea food, and fructose-sweetened drinks also reduces the likelihood of chronic gout as well.
Ingesting Vitamin C, coffee, and particular dairy products can help with maintaining a healthy lifestyle. There are new drugs out on the market that inhibit the body’s production of uric acid-producing enzymes. However, reducing or eliminating your overall levels of uric acid is the best remedy to ensuring you lead a gout-free life.
Diabetics must be wary of all wounds, regardless of depth or size. Diabetes, a chronic disease in which the body cannot properly use glucose the way it normally would, causes various complications that make wounds difficult to heal. Nerve damage or neuropathy will cause diabetics to have trouble feeling the pain of a blister or cut until the condition has significantly worsened or become infected. A diabetic’s weakened immune system can make even the most minor of wounds easily susceptible to infection. Diabetics are also more prone to developing narrow, clogged arteries, and are therefore more likely to develop wounds.
Wounds should be taken care of immediately after discovery, as even the smallest of wounds can become infected if enough bacteria build up within the wound. To remove dirt, wounds should be first rinsed under running water only. Soap, hydrogen peroxide, or iodine can irritate the injury and should be avoided. To prevent infection, apply antibiotic ointment to the wound and cover it with a bandage. The bandage should be changed daily. The skin around the wound may be cleaned with soap.
To prevent further exacerbation, see a doctor—especially if you have diabetes. Minor skin conditions can become larger problems if not properly inspected. As the wound heals, make sure to avoid applying pressure to the affected area.
A congenital foot problem is a problem affecting the feet, toes, and/or ankle that a child is born with. Several issues with a child’s feet can occur congenitally. Such problems include clubfoot, vertical talus, tarsal coalition, polydactyly, macrodactyly, and cleft foot. Some of these problems have a genetic basis, with someone in their family history having a gene causing the condition, and some are simply an anomaly.
The following are specifics about a few of these conditions:
- Clubfoot, also called congenital talipes equinovarus or talipes equinovarus, is When the tendons of the foot shorten, the bones are of an unusual shape, and the Achilles tendon is tight, causing an inward and downward pointing of the foot. The soles of the feet might also face each other. In most cases of clubfoot, both feet are affected. If not treated, the affected child will walk on the sides of their feet or ankles.
- Polydactyly is a condition where the child has more than five fingers or toes on either or both feet. Presentation usually consists of a nubbin or small lump of tissue without a bone, a toe that is partially formed but has no joints, or an extra toe.
- Vertical talus is where the talus bone forms in the wrong position, other bones in the foot do not line up properly, the front of the foot points up, and the bottom of the foot is stiff, has no arch, and usually curves out. This can occur in one or both feet and if left untreated, can lead to serious disability or discomfort as the child grows.
- Tarsal coalition is when there is an abnormal connection of two or more bones in the foot leading to severe, rigid flatfoot. The tarsal bones, located toward the back of the foot and in the heel, are the ones affected. This condition is often present at birth, but signs of the disorder usually come on in early adolescence.
- Cleft foot is a rare condition where the foot has missing toes, a V-shaped cleft, and other anatomical differences. Surgery can often help improve the foot’s function since the heel remains normal and is what is most needed for walking. The main issues with this affliction are whether the affected foot can fit into a shoe and the shape and appearance of the foot.
- Macrodactyly is when the toes are abnormally large due to overgrowth of the underlying bone or soft tissue. Having this condition makes it harder for the child to use the affected foot for certain activities.
While proper foot care is important for everybody, senior citizens have the tendency to be more susceptible to certain foot conditions. The elderly should therefore be well informed about any problems that may arise and about what they can do to properly avoid or treat them.
Some of the most common foot problems seniors are susceptible to include foot ulcers, ingrown toenails, fallen arches, and fungal nails. A foot ulcer is an open sore on the foot and can be a result of diabetes and decreased sensation in the feet. An ingrown toenail is defined as when the nail grows into the side of the toe. Fallen arches are indicated by the instep of the foot collapsing. A fungal nails is a condition that results in deformed and discolored toenails.
In order to avoid these conditions it is recommended that the feet be inspected by the patient on a regular basis. If these inspections are carried out routinely, there is a good likelihood that problems can be identified before they become severe, or can even be avoided altogether. If any abnormality is discovered, it is important that the individual consult a podiatrist for diagnosis and information on treatment options.
Proper foot hygiene is also important. Making sure that you always have clean, dry socks on can be a major deterrent to many different problems including bacterial infections, foot odor, and certain types of fungus. Wet feet are a major cause of many of these problems. If your socks get wet, it is important to change them. Walking around in wet socks may not only lead to various infections, but can irritate the skin and result in a number of various complications. Clean, dry feet are less likely to be affected by fungal and other infections.
As people age, the fat present on your feet begins to deteriorate. The protective nature of this fat keeps the feet healthy by providing a barrier between your bones and the ground. This also aids in giving the skin on the feet a certain amount of elasticity. This is one factor that causes elderly people to develop some serious foot issues. Foot moisturizers can be helpful to avoid certain problems associated with this. However, water-based moisturizers do not work as well for elderly people as they do for the young. Instead, it is more effective to use an emollient instead. An emollient is effective because it binds the water in the foot, keeping it from becoming absorbed too readily which will result in dry skin. Emollients also have a special property called occlusion, which provides a layer of oil on the skin. This layer prevents the foot from drying up and can be very effective in treating dry skin disorders. If you can keep the skin on your feet healthy, this will substantially reduce the number of foot problems you will encounter in old age.
Proper footwear is another way to keep feet healthy. Shoes that fit well and provide proper support help prevent ingrown toenails and fallen arches.
Certain medical conditions such as diabetes or poor blood circulation increase the risk for foot issues. For individuals with any of these conditions it is extremely important to conduct regular foot inspections to make sure that there are no sores or infections present.