Limb salvage is a procedure that involves saving a lower extremity from amputation. In podiatry, limb amputation often occurs as a result of diabetes, peripheral vascular disease, neuropathy, cancer, and severe crush injury. The fundamental goal of limb salvage is to restore and maintain stability and movement of the affected lower extremity.
The procedure typically involves removing the diseased tissue and a small portion of the surrounding healthy tissue, as well as the removal of any affected bone if necessary. If the bone is removed, it is then replaced with prostheses, synthetic metal rods or plates, or grafts from either the patient’s body or a donor. Limb salvage is typically the preferred choice of procedure over amputation, as the procedure preserves both the patient’s appearance and allows for the greatest possible degree of function in the affected limb.
Upon diagnosis and determining that limb salvage is the appropriate treatment, the podiatrist may enlist the help of a physical and/or occupational therapist to prepare the patient for surgery by introducing various muscle-strengthening, walking, and range of motion exercises. Such exercises may be continued as rehabilitation post-procedure.
Hammertoes are painful deformities that frequently form on the second, third, or fourth toe. The condition is often caused by an issue in foot mechanics. This can be caused by the person’s specific gait or the manner in which they walk, or by shoes that do not comfortably fit the deformity. Hammertoes can be formed after wearing shoes that are too narrow or short for the foot or have excessively high heels. Shoes that are not properly sized will force the toes into a bent position for long periods of time. This can cause the muscles to shorten and toes to bend into the deformity of a hammertoe.
Hammertoe can also be caused by complications from rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, trauma to the foot, heredity, or a cerebral vascular accident. Pain and difficult mobility of the toes, deformities, calluses, and corns are all symptoms of a hammertoe.
Someone who suspects they have the symptoms of a hammertoe should consult with a physician—particularly a podiatrist. Podiatrists diagnose and treat complications of the foot and ankle. If the podiatrist discovers that the affected toes are still flexible, treatment for the hammertoe may simply involve exercise, physical therapy, and better-fitting shoes. Treatment for hammertoes typically involves controlling foot mechanics, such as walking, through the use of customized orthotics.
For more serious cases in which the toes have become inflexible and rigid, surgery may be suggested. During the operation, the toe would receive an incision to relieve pressure on the tendons. A re-alignment of the tendons may then be performed by removing small pieces of bone to straighten the toe. In some cases, the insertion of pins is needed to keep the bones in the proper position as the toe heals. The patient is usually allowed to return home on the same day as the surgery.
If surgery is performed to repair a hammertoe, following the postoperative directions of your doctor is essential. Directions may include several stretches, picking up marbles with your toes, or attempting to crumple a towel placed flat against your feet. Wear shoes that have low heels and a wide amount of toe space to maintain comfort. Closed-toe shoes and high heels should be avoided. Shoes with laces allow the wearer to adjust how fitted he or she may want the shoes to be and also allow for greater comfort. To provide adequate space for your toes, select shoes that have a minimum of one-half inch of space between the tip of your longest toe and the inside of the shoe. This will also relieve pressure on your toes and prevent future hammertoes from forming.
Other preventative measures that can be taken include going shopping for new shoes in the middle of the day. Your feet are its smallest in the morning and swell as the day progresses. Trying on and purchasing new shoes midday will give you the most reliable size. Be sure to check that the shoes you purchase are both the same size. If possible, ask the store to stretch out the shoes at its painful points to allow for optimum comfort.
Sever’s disease, also known as calcaneal apophysitis is a common bone disorder that occurs during childhood. The disease is defined as an inflammation of the growth plate in the heel. When a child has a growth spurt, his heel bone grows faster than the muscles, tendons, and ligaments in his leg. This disease is a result of overuse. The people who are most likely to be affected by this disease are children who are in a growth spurt, especially boys who are from the ages of 5 to 13 years old. 60% of children with Sever’s disease have both heels involved.
Symptoms of this disease are heel pain that intensifies during running and jumping activities. The pain is typically localized to the posterior part of the heel. Symptoms may be severe, and they can easily interfere with daily activities. Children who play soccer, baseball, and basketball are more likely to develop Sever’s disease.
Your doctor will diagnose your child based on his or her symptoms, x-rays are generally not helpful in diagnosing this disease. Your doctor may examine both heels and ask your child questions about his or her activity level in sports. Your doctor may then use the squeeze test on your child’s heel to see if there is any pain. Nevertheless, some doctors might still use x-rays to rule out any other issues such as fractures, infections, and tumors.
Sever’s disease can be prevented by maintaining good flexibility while your child is growing. Another prevention method is to wear good-quality shoes that have firm support and a shock-absorbent sole. Sever’s disease can be treated by ceasing any activity that causes heel pain. You should apply ice to the injured heel for 20 minutes 3 times a day. Additionally, orthotics should be used for children who have high arches, flat feet, or bowed legs.
If you suspect your child has Sever’s disease, you should make an appointment with your podiatrist to have his or her foot examined. Your doctor may recommend nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen or naproxen to relieve pain. In more severe cases, your child may need a cast to rest his or her heel. Fortunately, Sever’s disease does not cause long-term foot problems. After treatment, your child should start to feel better within two weeks to two months.
Athlete’s foot, or tinea pedis, is a skin disease caused by a fungal infection. The infection typically occurs between the toes, and the feet are most subject to this disease because shoes best create the warm, dark, and moist environment in which fungus thrives. Other areas that create a similar environment, such as swimming pools, public showers, and locker rooms; can also promote fungi growth.
Symptoms of athlete’s foot include dry skin, itching, scaling, inflammation, and blistering. Sometimes, blisters can evolve into the cracks or breaks in the skin. The exposed tissue can then create pain, swelling, and discharge. The spread of infection can cause itching and burning as well.
While athlete’s foot commonly occurs between the toes, it may also spread to the toenails or soles of the feet. Other parts of the body, such as the groin or underarms, can also become infected if they are touched after the original area of infection is scratched. Aside from physical contact, athlete’s foot can also spread through the contamination of footwear, clothing or bedsheets.
Proper foot hygiene is essential in preventing athlete’s foot. You can prevent the fungus from spreading by frequently washing your feet using soap and water, thoroughly drying the feet between the toes, changing shoes and socks every day to reduce moisture, and ensuring that bathroom and shower floors are disinfected. Other tips include using shower shoes, avoiding walking barefoot in public environments, wearing light and airy shoes, and wearing socks that keep the feet dry.
While treatment for athlete’s foot can involve topical or oral antifungal drugs, mild cases of the infection can be treated by dusting foot powder in shoes and socks. Any treatment used can be supplemented by frequently bathing the feet and drying the toes. If proper foot hygiene and self-care do not ease your case of athlete’s foot, contact your podiatrist. He will determine if the underlying cause of your condition is truly a fungus. If that is the case, a comprehensive treatment plan may be suggested with the inclusion of prescription antifungal medications.