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Dr. Ruth Ann Cooper

By Ruth Ann Cooper 22 May, 2017

What lies hidden in the grass, dirt or sand can definitely wreak havoc on bare feet. From nails, shards of glass, slivers of wood, pieces of seashell at the beach, thorns from trees and plants or sometimes discarded toothpicks, each can puncture the skin of the foot and cause serious injury. Even after the object has been completely removed from the foot, any dirt or bacteria pushed into the wound from the puncture can lead to an infection, painful scarring or even a cyst. Any puncture wounds should be promptly treated in my office within 24 hours.

Besides hidden dangers, “everyday childhood injuries” can also interrupt a summer break. Protect your children’s feet from traumatic injuries, such as bicycle injuries and lawn mower accidents, by making sure they wear sturdy shoes while riding a bike or when cutting the grass.

Do not discount sunburn on the feet. Protect your children’s feet from the sun’s harmful rays by applying sunscreen to the tops and bottoms of their feet. Feet, like shoulders, burn faster than the rest of the body since they are most perpendicular to the sun’s rays. Not only is sunburn of the feet painful, it can also cause skin cancers that often go unnoticed until they become very serious.

By Ruth Ann Cooper 20 Apr, 2017

Competitive youth sports often require many athletes to transition from winter activities to spring activities without considering the increased risk of incurring a foot or ankle injury. Moving from indoor to outdoor playing surfaces with varying impact can stress a young athlete’s feet and ankles. Going from sport to sport without allowing time for muscles and bones to rest can cause overuse injuries.

If your child plans to participate in a sport this spring after playing through the winter sports season, follow these six tips:

  1.       Get a preseason health and wellness checkup. A medical evaluation before the season begins can help identify any health concerns that could possibly lead to injury.

2.       Take it slow. Ask the coach to gradually increase children’s playing time during practice to avoid pushing them full throttle. Your child’s feet and ankles need to become accustomed to the activity level required for a sport.

3.       Wear proper, broken-in shoes.   Different sports require different shoe gear. Wearing the appropriate, well-fitting, broken-in athletic shoes can eliminate heel and toe discomfort.

4.       Check your child’s technique. Watch for any changes in your child’s form or technique. Ask the coach to notify you if your child is placing more weight on wide side of his/her body or limping.

5.       Insist on open communication if your child has pain. Express to your child athlete that s/he should inform you and the coach of any pain or discomfort as soon as it occurs. Overuse injuries, such as Achilles tendonitis and shin splints, can be subtle and develop over time.

6.       If an injury occurs, remember RICE. An injured foot or ankle can often be healed with rest, ice, compression and elevation (RICE). If your child complains of foot or ankle pain, s/he should take a break from playing and allow time for recovery.

By Ruth Ann Cooper 06 Apr, 2017

This painful condition results from inflammation of the tissue band (the plantar fascia) that extends from the heel to the toes. Repetitive activities, such as a new exercise routine or walking on a daily basis, can put stress on the ligaments in the foot, leading to inflammation and pain.

The good news is heel pain can often be relieved using conservative methods, but it must be treated early.

 Heel pain can become chronic and debilitating if not properly treated.

I can help you find relief with therapies, such as:

  •  Anti-inflammatory medications
  • Stretching exercises
  • Orthotic devices
  •  Physical therapy
  • Footwear modifications
  •  Activity limitations
  • MLS Laser Therapy
  • Extra Corporeal Shockwave Therapy (ESWT)

 Although most patients with plantar fasciitis respond to nonsurgical treatment, some require surgery. If you continue to have heel pain with non-surgical treatment, we can discuss your surgical options.

Heel pain should not stop you from enjoying the beauty of Spring. Make an appointment with my office if you are experiencing heel pain so my staff and I can help you resume a healthy and active lifestyle.

By Ruth Ann Cooper 20 Mar, 2017

Myth: Cutting a notch in an ingrown toenail relieves pain.

Fact: This does not relieve the pain and may actually cause more problems and discomfort. If you have an ingrown toenail, do not perform bathroom surgery-call my office to schedule an appointment. In many cases, a simple in office surgical procedure will fix the ingrown toenail.

Myth: The ability to walk on an injured foot means it isn’t broken.

Fact: Depending on the injury and your threshold for pain, it is possible to walk on a broken foot or ankle. This can make the injury worse and can also lead to serious complications. Stay off an injured foot until you can come to my office for an evaluation.

Myth: Shoes cause bunions.

Fact: Bunions are most often caused by an inherited faulty mechanical structure of the foot, which only surgery can correct. However, there may be treatment options to help your symptoms.

Myth: A doctor can’t fix a broken toe.

Fact: Untreated broken toes may develop arthritis or become deformed. Schedule an appointment with my office immediately if you believe your toe may be broken. Treatment options may include;

  • Rest- Sometimes rest is all that is needed to heal a traumatic fracture of the toe.
  • Splinting- The toe may be fitted with a splint to keep it in a fixed position.
  • Rigid or stiff-soled shoe- Wearing a stiff-soled shoe protects the toe and helps keep it properly positioned.
  • “Buddy taping”- the fractured toe to another toe is sometimes appropriate, but in other cases, it may be harmful.
  • Surgery- If the break is badly displaced or if the joint is affected, surgery may be necessary.

Myth: Foot pain is normal as you get older.

Fact: Foot pain is not normal at any age. I, along with my excellent and caring staff, can provide relief for many painful conditions such as arthritis, bunions, hammertoes and much more. Visit FOOTHEALTHFACTS.org to learn more about these conditions and how to recognize their symptoms so you can get a head start on treatment.  

By Ruth Ann Cooper 21 Feb, 2017

It’s amazing how a body changes during pregnancy. For instance, did you know that a pregnant woman’s feet become wider and longer because her ligaments become easily stretched to prepare for childbirth? The American Podiatric Medical Association (APMA) shares common pregnancy symptoms along with tips and tricks to keep feet healthy until you finally meet your little one.

 EDEMA

Edema, or swelling, can be caused by the excess blood and fluid your body produces for pregnancy and from the baby compressing the blood vessels. Edema in the feet and ankles can make it uncomfortable to perform simple tasks such as walking and standing. How can you limit swelling and keep your feet feeling good throughout your pregnancy?

  • Wear supportive shoes, orthotics and compression stockings. Comfortable footwear and the right orthotics offer much-needed arch support and help distribute weight more evenly, while compression stockings can help with the swelling.
  • Exercise. The more active you are, the more your blood flows out of your feet and ankles and into the rest of your body. Is painful swelling already making exercise difficult? Try exercises that don’t put as much stress on your feet, like elliptical training.
  • Reduce your intake of salt and drink more water. Small changes in your diet can make significant improvements. Salt can cause your body to retain excess fluids, while drinking more water can flush out excess fluids.
  •  Elevate your feet. Pregnancy can be tiring and you’ve earned some rest and relaxation. When you’re taking a break, try elevating your feet, as well. This can help reduce swelling.
  •  Know your limits. No one knows your body better than you know your body. Trust your instincts and when you feel you might be over extending yourself, stop and take it easy.

 OVER PRONATION

Pronation is the normal flexible motion and flattening of the arch of the foot that allows it to adapt to ground surfaces and absorb shock in the normal walking pattern. Over pronation, common in pregnancy, occurs when the increased weight of carrying your baby stresses the feet and flattens the arches, causing the feet to roll in. Over pronation can stretch the tissues lining the bottom of your feet, also known as the plantar fascia. When the plantar fascia is stretched, it can cause painful inflammation called plantar fasciitis. Over pronation and plantar fasciitis result in pain in the foot and heel. How can you reduce the pain?

By Ruth Ann Cooper 03 Feb, 2017

A child’s feet can grow up to two sizes in six months. Signs of too-tight shoes include blisters, corns, and calluses on the toes, blisters on the back of the heels or ingrown toenails. Also check shoes for wear and tear since they can lose shock absorption over time.

 If you need to buy new shoes for your child, choose a pair that has a little, but not too much, room for growth. Aim for about a finger’s width of space between your child’s big toe and the front of the shoe. Be careful not to buy shoes that are too big because oversized shoes can cause the foot to slide forward, putting pressure on the toes.

 The shoes should also have a toe box wide enough to accommodate your child’s feet, adequate cushioning and shock absorption. If your child has flat feet, look for shoes that provide arch support.

  Call my office to schedule an appointment if your child has any trouble walking or running or has foot pain despite wearing properly fitted shoes.

By Ruth Ann Cooper 15 Dec, 2016

Frostbite occurs when a body part is exposed to extreme cold. If conditions are cold enough for water within the tissues to freeze and form ice crystals, cell death can occur. Frostbite in the foot typically develops in stages beginning with cold toes that turn bright red in color. Over time, the color of the toes continues to change and darkens into purples and blues and eventually black, indicating severe frostbite. Those with diabetic neuropathy, or loss of feeling in the feet, are especially at risk and should check their toes regularly for signs of frostbite.

 Frostbite can also cause numbness in the toes, but numb toes can indicate other conditions. If you are experiencing numbness or discoloration in the tissue of your toes, call my office to schedule an appointment. If you suspect the numbness is due to frostbite, seek medical attention immediately.

  Preventing Frostbite

  • Limit your exposure to extreme cold.
  • Keep your feet as warm and dry as possible.
  • If frostbite is suspected in your feet, immerse them in warm water (approximately 100 degrees Fahrenheit).
  • Avoid vigorous rubbing/massaging and dry heat (such as from a hair dryer). As burns may result if numbness is present.

By Ruth Ann Cooper 14 Nov, 2016

  The Achilles tendon is the largest tendon in the body and it connects the calf muscle to the heel bone. When the middle of the sole of the athletic shoe collapses, pressure is transferred from the midfoot area to the heel, which can stretch the Achilles tendon excessively. This can lead to inflammation, also known as Achilles tendonitis.

 Warning signs of Achilles tendonitis include pain and swelling in the tendon area following exercise. The leg may also feel stiff or tired. Rest, ice, and anti-inflammatory drugs, such as ibuprofen, can relieve Achilles tendonitis, but if symptoms persist, schedule an appointment with my office so I can determine the extent of the problem and the potential risk for a ruptured or torn tendon. A torn or ruptured Achilles tendon requires surgery and recovery is often slow and involves extensive rehabilitation.

  To avoid Achilles tendon injuries:

·        replace your shoes every 400 miles;

·        always stretch and walk before beginning any strenuous exercise;

·        increase the difficulty of any new exercise programs gradually to allow your calf muscles to adjust and become more flexible.

By Ruth Ann Cooper 28 Oct, 2016

During your foot exam, we will assess your feet for nerve sensation, skin irregularities (corns, calluses, punctures and redness), swelling, drainage and any unnatural pressure points prone to ulceration. Should we find any pre-ulcerative conditions, we will begin prompt treatment to prevent any wounds from occurring.

  In between exams, be sure to:

  • Inspect your feet daily for cuts, blisters, redness, swelling or nail problems;
  • Gently cleanse your feet each day with soap and lukewarm water;
  • Regularly moisturize your feet to avoid itching or cracking.

 If your foot changes shape or you notice any increased warmth, redness, pain, blisters or bleeding, stay off your foot and visit my office as soon as possible to be evaluated. Walking on an injured foot or delaying treatment may lead to further irreparable damage, loss of leg or more serious consequences.

By Ruth Ann Cooper 10 Oct, 2016

One of the most common injuries is an ankle sprain, often caused by quick, lateral movements in court sports or, especially in basketball, by stepping on a competitor’s foot. Ankle sprains are often under-treated, which can lead to chronic pain and weakness in the ankle. When in doubt, follow the RICE protocol: Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation, until your foot and ankle specialist can provide proper treatment.

 Stress fractures may result from the shock of feet landing on hard surfaces. These small but troublesome fractures can be difficult to detect, and many times, people continue to play with pain and delay diagnosis and treatment while worsening the injury.

 The heel is another common injury site. Heel pain can indicate a plantar fascia injury or bone spur. The plantar fascia is a thin, strong tissue band that supports the arch and stretches from the heel to the ball of the foot. Over time and with repeated shocks, micro-events can occur and cause the fascia to tear from the heel, resulting in bone spurs.

 Appropriate stretching, warm-ups, as well as calf stretches can help prevent Achilles tendon injuries in those playing court sports.

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Dr. Ruth Ann Cooper

By Ruth Ann Cooper 22 May, 2017

What lies hidden in the grass, dirt or sand can definitely wreak havoc on bare feet. From nails, shards of glass, slivers of wood, pieces of seashell at the beach, thorns from trees and plants or sometimes discarded toothpicks, each can puncture the skin of the foot and cause serious injury. Even after the object has been completely removed from the foot, any dirt or bacteria pushed into the wound from the puncture can lead to an infection, painful scarring or even a cyst. Any puncture wounds should be promptly treated in my office within 24 hours.

Besides hidden dangers, “everyday childhood injuries” can also interrupt a summer break. Protect your children’s feet from traumatic injuries, such as bicycle injuries and lawn mower accidents, by making sure they wear sturdy shoes while riding a bike or when cutting the grass.

Do not discount sunburn on the feet. Protect your children’s feet from the sun’s harmful rays by applying sunscreen to the tops and bottoms of their feet. Feet, like shoulders, burn faster than the rest of the body since they are most perpendicular to the sun’s rays. Not only is sunburn of the feet painful, it can also cause skin cancers that often go unnoticed until they become very serious.

By Ruth Ann Cooper 20 Apr, 2017

Competitive youth sports often require many athletes to transition from winter activities to spring activities without considering the increased risk of incurring a foot or ankle injury. Moving from indoor to outdoor playing surfaces with varying impact can stress a young athlete’s feet and ankles. Going from sport to sport without allowing time for muscles and bones to rest can cause overuse injuries.

If your child plans to participate in a sport this spring after playing through the winter sports season, follow these six tips:

  1.       Get a preseason health and wellness checkup. A medical evaluation before the season begins can help identify any health concerns that could possibly lead to injury.

2.       Take it slow. Ask the coach to gradually increase children’s playing time during practice to avoid pushing them full throttle. Your child’s feet and ankles need to become accustomed to the activity level required for a sport.

3.       Wear proper, broken-in shoes.   Different sports require different shoe gear. Wearing the appropriate, well-fitting, broken-in athletic shoes can eliminate heel and toe discomfort.

4.       Check your child’s technique. Watch for any changes in your child’s form or technique. Ask the coach to notify you if your child is placing more weight on wide side of his/her body or limping.

5.       Insist on open communication if your child has pain. Express to your child athlete that s/he should inform you and the coach of any pain or discomfort as soon as it occurs. Overuse injuries, such as Achilles tendonitis and shin splints, can be subtle and develop over time.

6.       If an injury occurs, remember RICE. An injured foot or ankle can often be healed with rest, ice, compression and elevation (RICE). If your child complains of foot or ankle pain, s/he should take a break from playing and allow time for recovery.

By Ruth Ann Cooper 06 Apr, 2017

This painful condition results from inflammation of the tissue band (the plantar fascia) that extends from the heel to the toes. Repetitive activities, such as a new exercise routine or walking on a daily basis, can put stress on the ligaments in the foot, leading to inflammation and pain.

The good news is heel pain can often be relieved using conservative methods, but it must be treated early.

 Heel pain can become chronic and debilitating if not properly treated.

I can help you find relief with therapies, such as:

  •  Anti-inflammatory medications
  • Stretching exercises
  • Orthotic devices
  •  Physical therapy
  • Footwear modifications
  •  Activity limitations
  • MLS Laser Therapy
  • Extra Corporeal Shockwave Therapy (ESWT)

 Although most patients with plantar fasciitis respond to nonsurgical treatment, some require surgery. If you continue to have heel pain with non-surgical treatment, we can discuss your surgical options.

Heel pain should not stop you from enjoying the beauty of Spring. Make an appointment with my office if you are experiencing heel pain so my staff and I can help you resume a healthy and active lifestyle.

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