Items filtered by date: February 2011

Monday, 28 February 2011 21:28

Healthy Feet Help Make For a Healthy Heart

As February and heart health month ends, patients here in Columbus have probably been hearing a lot about keeping their heart healthy from all of their healthcare providers. As a podiatrist I want my patients to know that their feet are a key indicator of their overall health, and can often play an integral role in their heart’s health!

A recent study by the American Podiatric Medical Association has found that 72% of Americans say that foot pain is preventing them from exercising. These foot issues preventing exercise are a huge setback that needs to be resolved for anyone looking to lose weight and improve their overall health. Orthotics, sometimes known as “arch supports” can be very helpful in relieving pain commonly experienced while exercising. An example of a common cause of pain in runners and other athletes is plantar fasciitis. Orthotics can help to combat the pain of plantar fasciitis which is related to inflammation of the ligament that stretches from the heel across the bottom of the foot, the plantar aponeurosis. Being able to exercise comfortably and without foot pain should be a goal for all patients visiting a doctor of podiatric medicine.

The feet should be examined to check for signs of heart disease. Swelling in the foot and ankle, called edema, is abnormal and can be a sign of congestive heart failure. When the heart is weakened and cannot pump as strongly as it should, blood will pool in the lower parts of the body, especially the foot and ankle. While this swelling can be a sign of heart disease, it can also indicate many other ailments including trauma, insect bites, medications and other circulatory problems such as venous stasis. Patients should try to relieve swelling by elevating the legs above the heart when possible, applying mild pressure with support stockings and possible trying a low salt diet to reduce the amount of fluid being held in the body. A podiatrist should be consulted if swelling of the feet persists, is painful or worsens.

It is also important when dealing with patients who have already had heart problems to be aware of possible implications in the foot of their medications and treatments. For example, congestive heart failure can cause swelling, but blood pressure lowering drugs often taken by heart patients can also cause swelling. Some drugs, such as Lisinopril, which is used to treat high blood pressure and heart failure has an unexpected effect in the foot. It can not only cause swelling in the foot but can also rarely cause cases of gout. Gout is when the breakdown products of amino acids from proteins accumulate in a joint, typically the joint at the base of the big toe. A “gouty attack” is very painful and often occurs at night with the affected joint being tender, red and swollen.

It is important to always keep in mind that your foot health is a key component in having total health. Heart health and foot health are surprisingly intertwined and without healthy feet it can be difficult to achieve a healthy heart!

Please visit for more information or call 614-885 FEET (3338) to schedule an appointment with a podiatrist in Columbus, Ohio. Columbus Podiatry & Surgery is located on the North side of Columbus, Ohio near Worthington.

Saturday, 19 February 2011 21:36

Too Many Toes!

A woman in Myanmar has recently been trying to help her infant daughter gain a world record for an unusual deformity called polydactyly. In the foot, polydactyly is a digital deformity where you have more than 5 toes, or digits. Polydactyly can also occur in the hand with extra fingers. While this may seem like a rare deformity that would only occur in far away parts of the world, polydactyly is actually a fairly common birth defect that can occur even here in Columbus!

The young girl in Myanmar was born with 12 fingers and 13 toes, tying the current world record. While the mother of the girl was excited that her daughter was displaying exceptional grip strength in her hands, the extra digits in her foot will likely cause foot pain and other foot problems if the toes are not surgically removed. It would be difficult to find shoes that would properly fit a widened foot with extra toes.

Any time a foot with extra toes, or even the usual number of toes, is crammed into an improperly fitting shoe pressure can push the digits together in an abnormal way. Pressure pushing the tips of the toes together and pressing on the side of the foot next to the big toe could lead to another common deformity called a bunion. A bunion is an enlargement in the joint, or sometimes the bone, at the base of the big toe. Because bunions can slowly develop when the first toe is overly angled toward the other toes, they can actually be prevented by avoiding shoes that would pinch your toes together. Even with preventative measures against bunions, people with flat feet or pronation syndrome are more likely to develop a bunion. Bunions can be painful when the enlargement on the middle side of the foot rubs against the shoe. The constant irritation of the area can even lead to arthritis in the joint at the bunion.

Babies are born with flat feet and the arch develops over time. Thus, in the child from Myanmar, the combination of flat foot and extra toes being pushed together lead to greatly increased chances of developing a bunion. To prevent other foot problems from developing, surgery would generally be the best way to deal with extra toes if they are causing pain. The only way to completely get rid of a bunion and all of its symptoms is also through surgery called a bunionectomy. Non-surgical methods are often tried first to relieve bunion symptoms and pain, but not the bunion itself. Some non-surgical treatments of bunions include: orthotics, specialized padding to relieve the pressure and thus constant irritation of the bunion, and night-time splints, which are most often used in young people whose bones are still developing. A skilled podiatrist can evaluate the bunion or polydactyl patient and recommend the best treatment to stop foot pain and prevent future foot problems! Hopefully the young girl in Myanmar will not only be included in the Guinness Book of World Records, but will also be added to the list of happy patients of podiatry and grow up with happy and healthy feet!!

Please visit for more information or call 614-885 FEET (3338) to schedule an appointment with a podiatrist in Columbus, Ohio. Columbus Podiatry & Surgery is located on the North side of Columbus, Ohio near Worthington.

Last week on 10 TV News, I caught a clip of a local Ohio State student who suffers from an allergy to the cold. The segment showed that cold allergies really do exist and can cause an allergic reaction with hives or an itchy rash on exposed surfaces. While many of us certainly FEEL like we’re allergic to the cold this time of the year, luckily this allergy affects a relatively small percent of the population.

Unfortunately, however, the bitter cold of the Columbus area can have a variety of negative effects on the skin of those even without a legitimate cold allergy and can be especially troublesome in the foot! When the skin of the heel becomes overly dry a condition called a heel fissure can occur more easily. A fissure is a crack into a deep layer of the skin, below the superficial layer called the epidermis, and can occur anywhere in skin that is thickened or callused. Because the heel is generally the thickest skin of the foot, fissures can occur in the heel when it becomes dry. The fissure can bleed and be very painful. As with any open wound in the skin, this provides the potential for an infection to enter the body. Without regular self-examination of the foot and wounds, and knowing when to call a podiatrist, infections are capable of causing gangrene. Diabetic patients are especially at risk for gangrene, which is the death of tissues near the infection from loss of oxygen supply. You should immediately call a podiatrist if you suspect infection or gangrene near a heel fissure because it can spread through the body and cause tissue death in vital organs.

To prevent all of these problems, several steps can be taken to avoid heel fissures in the first place! One way to begin preventing a heel spur is to try to prevent any heel calluses from forming. Ways to do this would be to decrease the amount of friction and rubbing that your heel has to deal with by purchasing properly fitting shoes. Some calluses can also form as a result of an abnormal bony growth in the skeleton of the foot which may require orthotics or surgical correction in order to stop the development of calluses. Another step in heel fissure prevention, especially in the cold dry winter months, would be to properly moisturize the skin of your feet. So remember that even though it’s still a few more months until it’s time to bust out the sandals and flaunt your toes, moisturizing and taking good care of your feet is important all year long!!

Please visit for more information or call 614-885 FEET (3338) to schedule an appointment with a podiatrist in Columbus, Ohio. Columbus Podiatry & Surgery is located on the North side of Columbus, Ohio near Worthington.

Wednesday, 16 February 2011 21:47

Can Runners Really Be Barefoot Fancy Free?

With the release of Christopher McDougall’s book “Born to Run” in 2009, the debate over the benefits and drawbacks of barefoot running has been ignited in the running and podiatric communities. The book centers on a tribe of “super runners”, the Tarahumara Indians of Mexico and their ability to run massive amounts of miles while barefoot. The amazing speed and endurance of the Tarahumara acts as a testament to the success of barefoot running and lures several everyday runners in the book to also attempt the “barefoot” running style by wearing only thin soled coverings on their feet.

The temptation to try going barefoot is definitely there for runners looking to improve their performances; but there are some concerns to think about before tossing the old runner sneakers in the trash and hitting your toes to the pavement. In an article in “Runner’s World Magazine”, the famous runner Amby Burfoot interviews sports podiatrist-biomechanist and long-time runner Kevin Kirby, D.P.M. and barefoot running advocate “Barefoot Ken Bob” Saxton on the pros and cons of barefoot running (Runner’s World Article – “The Barefoot Running Debate”). “Barefoot Ken” agrees with the ideas supported by the Tarahumara runners in “Born to Run” in that he believes that barefoot running feels more natural, naturally strengthens foot and leg muscles and thus prevents injury and improves running speed. Dr. Kirby agrees that occasional “barefoot” running with some type of protective shoes or on a safe surface could be beneficial to some people for strengthening leg and foot muscles and offering a change up while training.

However, both Dr. Kirby, D.P.M. and “Barefoot Ken” agree that runners need to proceed with caution when trying out this trend. In today’s world running completely barefoot is often unsafe due to the surfaces most runners travel on. No one wants to take a barefoot jog and accidentally step on a sharp pebble or rusty nail on the sidewalk! Some type of protective covering must be worn over the feet. Several options include the “Vibram FiveFingers” (which are also mentioned in “Born to Run”), or the “Nike Free”. Both of these shoes have minimal cushioning and attempt to allow the foot to act as though barefoot while still being somewhat protected from the elements. Runners should also make their transition to barefoot running a gradual or incomplete one. As previously mentioned, Dr. Kirby discussed his support for occasional barefoot running, but making a drastic transition to running barefoot could be dangerous and lead to injury. It is also important to consider that even doing a small amount of barefoot running can be harmful to some runners, as barefoot running may not be for everyone.

Currently, the American Podiatric Medical Association feels that more research is necessary to determine both the short term and long term effects of barefoot running (APMA Position Statement on Barefoot Running). So for now happy running, whether you run with or without shoes, but tread carefully!!

Please visit for more information or call 614-885 FEET (3338) to schedule an appointment with a podiatrist in Columbus, Ohio. Columbus Podiatry & Surgery is located on the North side of Columbus, Ohio near Worthington.

Wednesday, 16 February 2011 21:42

The Truth About Toning Shoes

When I stopped at the Polaris Fashion Place a few minutes from the office the other day, I couldn’t help but to notice how many different types of “toning” shoes have sprung up at shoe stores in the past year. Celebrities including Kim Kardashian, Kendra Wilkinson and Kelly Brook have all been seen wearing the Reebok brand “Easy tone” toning shoes that pledge to tone your legs and butt. Recently, several lawsuits have been brought against a few of the toning shoe companies. The individuals suing have claimed that the shoes do not live up to the toned results promised and, for a few people, their toning shoes lead to foot and ankle injuries. These individuals could have prevented their toning shoe woes by meeting with a podiatrist to find out what shoes were right for them and how to keep their feet and ankles healthy!!

It is important to remember when choosing any type of shoe, that the main purpose of the shoe is to comfortably support and protect YOUR foot and ankle. Everyone’s feet are different and a shoe that makes one person feel great, might not work for you.

The general idea of the toning shoe is to create a slight instability, causing different muscles in the leg and foot to work harder than usual. While this does not replace a traditional workout as advertised in some toning shoe ads, it does tone muscles that would not typically be toned in normal shoes. Toning shoes can be used as supplement to good, ol’ sweat-inducing exercise!

As with any new exercise routine, a physical exam and foot exam should occur before making the decision to use toning shoes. The type of toning shoe you choose should fit with the activity you plan on using it for. For example, toning shoes wouldn’t be recommended for basketball players who need a high-top basketball shoe to protect their ankle from jumping and twisting motions. For many individuals with a normal foot type toning shoes can function well as a walking shoe. However, for anyone with a foot ailment or different foot structure, a toning shoe may not be the best option and these individuals should definitely consult with their podiatrist to see if they should be wearing a more corrective shoe type or possibly a prescription orthotic to wear in their toning and other shoes. Toning shoes featuring a high platform would generally be advised against. Flat shoes, with a height of 1 inch or less, are the healthiest shoes for feet. The platform can increase the likelihood of rolling or spraining an ankle, especially in people with poor balance. The American Podiatric Medical Association’s list of approved toning shoes is a good place to begin researching some possible toning shoe options to discuss with your podiatrist at your next appointment.

Please visit for more information or call 614-885 FEET (3338) to schedule an appointment with a podiatrist in Columbus, Ohio. Columbus Podiatry & Surgery is located on the North side of Columbus, Ohio near Worthington.

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