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By Dr. Paul C. LaFata
October 16, 2014
Category: Ingrown Toenails

Tips to relieve ingrown toenail painSometimes amazing sights lurk below what we can see on the surface, much like an iceberg. That’s certainly the case for the Crystal Cave Park. The caves are a wonder, hidden just out of sight under the earth. Some things that aren’t visible aren’t as nice as this natural Pennsylvania wonder. Ingrown toenails end up hidden under your skin, for example, and they can be pretty uncomfortable. Fortunately, home remedies can help relieve your discomfort.

Ingrown toenails are painful, and do not improve without treatment. They are also prone to infections, particularly if the hard keratin pierces the skin. Taking care of these uncomfortable nails can alleviate your pain and prevent infections. Here are a few home remedies for you to try:

  • Warm Soak – Mix Epsom salts and warm water in a basin. Soak your feet for 15 minutes, several times a day. This helps reduce swelling and discomfort around the painful nail. If you have diabetes or any other condition that weakens your nerves, check with our West Lawn Podiatry Associates team before soaking your feet to make sure it’s safe for you.
  • Nail Splint – If your ingrown nail is still in the early stages, lift the offending edge free of your skin and place a “splint” of dental floss or sterile cotton underneath to prevent the nail from curling. This may help the keratin grow straighter instead of curving inward.
  • Antibiotics – Rub the area around the ingrown nail with antibiotic ointment. This combats infection in the vulnerable skin.
  • Padded Bandages – Bandage the affected toe. This adds a layer of padding between your nail, skin, and footwear. It may help protect your sensitive toe from friction.
  • Roomy Shoes – Choose soft, roomy shoes with both wide and deep toe boxes. Tight, narrow models will press down on your ingrown toenail, hurting it. Roomy shoes made from soft materials allow your digits to wiggle and move without the pressure that can contribute to curling nails.

These home remedies are simple, easy to fit into your day, and helpful for relieving pain from ingrown toenails. You don’t have to suffer with toe pain at all. Let our West Lawn Podiatry Associates team help you. Just call (610) 678-4581 or use our website contact form to reach us for more information or an appointment.

By Dr. Paul C. LaFata
October 09, 2014
Category: Footwear
Tags: Footwear   Orthotics   Shoe Inserts  

Support your feet with custom orthoticsFall is a great season for runners. The cool, crisp air is refreshing on the trail, and the changing colors make for beautiful scenery. Whether you’re a casual jogger or training for your next race, fall is a great time for a run. It’s also a good time to evaluate your orthotics, particularly if you’ve had them for a while. Custom supports are very durable, but they don’t last forever. To keep running your best, you need to be able to recognize when your running inserts are wearing out.

Custom orthotics are made from durable materials, including dense foam, cork, and plastic, depending on your needs. These materials last for a long time—typically several years. However, heavy wear and pounding from running stresses the inserts over time and wears them down. The harder and more frequently your feet strike the ground, the quicker they deteriorate. Eventually they aren’t able to support your feet as they used to and need to be replaced.

Consider several factors to determine if it’s time to replace your orthotics, including how long you’ve had them, how much you use them, and how they feel when you wear them.

  • How long: A normal pair can last anywhere from one to five years on average, though this will vary with the materials. Consider when you got the pair of inserts you’re wearing. If it’s been a few years, it may be time to have them evaluated.
  • How much: The more often they’re used—and the harder you are on them—the quicker they’ll wear down. A pair of custom insoles you wear and run in every day will deteriorate more quickly than a pair you only use on occasion. Consider how often you run and how hard you strike the ground, which can make the insoles wear out more quickly.
  • How they feel: This is a huge factor in replacing your inserts. If they do not feel right when you run, or you notice you’re developing foot pain again, they are most likely worn out and no longer fitting correctly.

Orthotics don’t last forever, but they don’t have to be replaced every year, either. Pay attention to your custom insoles. If you’re concerned they need to be replaced, let West Lawn Podiatry Associates in West Lawn, PA, know. You can make an appointment with us by calling (610) 678-4581 or sending us an online request.

By Dr. Paul C. LaFata
October 02, 2014
Category: Heel Pain
Tags: Heel Pain   Footwear  

Your shoes could be causing heel painIn the right place, you may find history, science, and art come alive for you to enjoy. The Reading Public Museum has a variety of permanent and rotating exhibits packed with fossils, statues, and relics of ages past. Just be sure to plan a couple hours to wander the halls and enjoy everything the museum has to offer. Anyone suffering with heel pain may concerned about spending so long on aching feet—and rightly so! However, the solution may be simpler than you think: check your shoes.

Your shoes have an enormous impact on your lower limbs. They are supposed to support and cushion your foot structures, helping you absorb the shock and impacts your feet are subjected to daily. Your footwear is also supposed to protect your feet from foreign objects and other things that might injure you when you’re active. Unfortunately, not all shoes do this. In fact, some can actually contribute to discomfort and injuries, including heel pain.

Unsupportive shoes with insufficient padding can strain the plantar fascia band, irritating it, especially if you wear bad shoes while being active. Super flat soles and high heels in particular stress all the tissues in your lower limbs and worsen any biomechanical issues you may have. Your plantar fascia ends up overstretched and aggravated.

Sometimes changing your shoes is all it takes to find real relief and avoid chronic pain in your heel. Make sure you choose shoes that have plenty of padding through the sole, particularly under the heel. Avoid models that are completely flat—make sure your midfoot has support for your arch. How much cushioning you need here will vary with your arch type. Keep heels below two inches if you can, too. Higher than this and the strain can aggravate your arch and Achilles tendon.

Shoes are a simple solution to what can turn into a complex problem. You don’t have to suffer from painful heels. Make sure your lower limbs are sufficiently supported. Our team at West Lawn Podiatry Associates in Reading, PA, can help you fit and find footwear so you can be sure it fits correctly. If shoe changes are not enough and you continue to struggle with uncomfortable heels, we can also help you find a treatment to resolve the problem. Just call (610) 678-4581 or use our website to reach us.

Photo Credit: Dabambic via Pixabay.com

By Dr. Paul C. LaFata
September 25, 2014
Category: Sports Injuries
Tags: Sports Injuries   Turf Toe  

Turf toe is a common football injuryStaying active and having fun in Wyomissing, Pennsylvania, is easier than you might think. Centers like the Body Zone Sports and Wellness Complex provide fun, healthy activity for all ages—particularly through their sports leagues, like their adult flag football or youth basketball teams. If you’re playing a sport on an artificial surface, though, you have to pay extra attention to your feet. Injuries like turf toe are painful and need the right treatment to recover.

Turf toe is more serious than many people realize. It’s a sprain in the supporting ligaments of the big toe. This occurs when the toe is suddenly bent back farther than its normal range of motion. Since your big toe is crucial for pushing off the ground to walk, run, or jump, a sprained big toe sharply limits your mobility. Failing to treat a sprain can lead to long-term weakness in the foot.

To prevent that, you need to recognize the injury and care for your turf toe right away. Generally the pain develops immediately when the problem occurs. You may or may not feel a “pop” when the toe bends back. The joint at the base of your big toe will swell and become difficult to move. You may or may not have bruising, too, depending on the seriousness of the damage. Most likely you’ll experience pain when you put weight on the ball of the foot that will worsen if you try to push off the ground.

The RICE technique—rest, ice, compress, elevate—can help with first aid so you can start recovering right away.  Avoid putting weight on the affected foot for the first few hours after the injury if you can. Wear a stiff-soled shoe or splint to avoid bending the big toe, too. Ice the toe and keep your feet up during the day. You might need anti-inflammatory medications as well.

Once the pain has disappeared, you’ll need to rehabilitate your toe. Stretching will help regain an appropriate range of motion. Exercises to strengthen your toe will help condition your foot to handle the strain of your activities. Even then, you’ll need to ease into sports slowly.

Turf toe is serious, since it limits your mobility. You don’t have to let it sideline you forever, though. Some prompt care will get you back into your busy life without pain. If you’ve sprained your foot, let our team at West Lawn Podiatry help. Call (610) 678-4581 or use the online form to request an appointment.

By Dr. Paul C. LaFata
September 18, 2014
Category: Ankle Sprain

Ice your ankle to help with recoveryRegular season football has only been underway for a few weeks, and already the injury list is littered with players suffering from ankle issues. Some, like Tandon Doss for the Jacksonville Jaguars and Sanders Commings for the Kansas City Chiefs, are already out for the season. Most of the others, however, are working hard to rehabilitate their joints and make a comeback later in the year. Recovering from a sprained ankle, or any other joint injury, takes time and effort. Fortunately, you don’t have to be a pro football player to get good care for ankle sprains.

Ankle sprains are an overstretching or tearing of the ligaments that stabilize your ankle joint. This happens when your ankle twists or rolls suddenly. This painfully destabilizes the joint—and depending on how serious the injury, may take a while to recover. It’s a very common problem, particularly for athletes. Whether you run for fun or play football for school, if you’re active, you’re at risk. The key to recovering well and getting back to your activities without pain is simple: don’t rush it.

Give your joint the break it needs to heal. Avoid all hard-impact activities for a while. You may even benefit from wearing a brace or compression bandage to immobilize the foot. Ice the tender area and keep your foot elevated when you can to minimize any swelling. Our staff at West Lawn Podiatry Associates may recommend anti-inflammatory pain medications as well.

Once the swelling and pain have gone down, you’ll need some physical therapy to help stabilize and restore your joint to full health. This will mean carefully stretching and working on range-of-motion exercises. Resistance and weight-bearing activities will help build strength and power in the tissues that are still repairing. Balance exercises will help improve your overall stability.

Recovering from a sprained ankle can take anywhere from a couple weeks to a couple months depending on how severe the original injury was—as well as the initial care. Investing in your joint health can mean the difference between getting back into your activities pain-free and spending months struggling with discomfort and possibly re-spraining your limb. Don’t cheat yourself out of a full recovery. If you’ve hurt an ankle, let our team at West Lawn Podiatry Associates in the Wyomissing and Sinking Springs area help you heal properly. Just call (610) 678-4581 or use our website to make an appointment.

Photo Credit: artur84 via FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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