Women Runners Take Fashion Warning

  • By Ruth Ann Cooper
  • 13 Jun, 2016

Runners often cite the wide array of health benefits--physical, mental and emotional--as their motivation to keep logging the miles. But like any strenuous physical activity, running can also lead to overuse injuries. One of those injuries affecting women in particular is a foot pain so intense that it prevents them from running at all--the painful neuroma.

A neuroma is a common foot condition, especially among women. Research has found that female runners are often plagued by intense foot pain that is caused by an unassuming culprit: fashion. Women tend to wear fashionable shoes that are narrow with pointed-toes only to then pound those squished, weary feet into the pavement on training runs. This pattern sets women up  for neuroma.

We find in my practice that active women who enjoy running are prone to neuromas, especially if they regularly wear narrow shoes and have flat feet. A neuroma occurs when a nerve located between the toes becomes enlarged and inflamed and produces tingling, burning pain. The most common type is a Morton's neuroma, which develops at the base of the third and fourth toes. Symptoms begin gradual and, left untreated, progressively worsen. Patients often complain that neuroma pain feels as if something is stuck inside the ball of the foot. Relief for symptoms may come by messaging the foot, wearing wider low-heeled shoes and avoiding running or other activities that aggravate the condition.

Treatment options depend on how far the condition has progressed. At early stages, padding lessons pressure on the nerve, icing reduces swelling and over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications or injection therapy decreases pain and inflammation. Prescription or custom orthotic devices provide support to reduce traction and stress to the nerve. Patients are advised to take a break from running or other aggravating activities until the condition improves. In severe cases, outpatient surgery to remove the affected nerve might be the best option to provide relief.

Dr. Ruth Ann Cooper

By Ruth Ann Cooper 20 Jul, 2017

With warm weather in full swing, most of us have been enjoying the outdoors, whether that means tending to our yards and gardens, playing recreational sports or spending time at the beach. However, it takes just one wrong step for summer fun to turn into a painful ankle sprain or fracture. Walking, running and playing on uneven surfaces, such as grassy lawns, beaches and hiking trails, leave us susceptible to ankle trauma. Lightweight,  unsupportive summer footwear, such as sandals or flip-flops, make it even more difficult for us to regain balance on uneven surfaces.

 Sprains are one of the most common ankle injuries, but how can we tell if ankle pain is a sprain or a fracture? An ankle sprain is an injury to one or more of the ligaments in the ankle. These ligaments are like rubber bands that stabilize the ankle and limit the side-to-side motion. When these ligaments are stretched or torn, which can happen, for example, when the ankle is suddenly twisted, a sprain results. A fracture can also occur when the ankle is rolled under and the ankle is twisted. In this case, one or more bones may break or the ligament may pull a piece of bone off when it tears.

 When you have an ankle sprain, rehabilitation is crucial and it starts the moment your treatment begins. Treatment of ankle fractures depends on the type and severity of the injury. If you suffer from an ankle injury, follow the R.I.C.E (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation) protocol and contact my office for a proper evaluation or seek care at your local Emergency Department after hours. In some case, surgery may be necessary to repair the fracture and other soft-tissue related injuries, if present.


  If you or a family member suffer a sprained or fractured ankle this summer, follow these steps:   

  1.       Stay off it. Walking with a sprain or fracture can cause further damage.

2.       Ice It.   Make an ice pack by wrapping a bag of frozen vegetables in a lightweight towel. Do not apply the ice pack for more than 20 minutes each hour.

3.       Wrap It.   A loosely applied elastic bandage can help stabilize the ankle and can reduce swelling.

4.       Elevate it.   Lie with the leg on a pillow so that the ankle is above the level of your heart. This will help with pain and swelling.

5.       Call my office.   Prompt diagnosis and treatment are important in a successful recovery.

By Ruth Ann Cooper 14 Jun, 2017

  1. Wear comfortable shoes to the airport. You never know how long you will wait in line, how far you will walk to a terminal or if you will need to run to make a connecting flight. Loose fitting flip-flops and sandals increase your risk of tripping, falling and spraining your ankle. Sprains should be evaluated by a foot and ankle specialist within 24 hours to ensure proper healing.
  2. Wear socks with your comfortable shoes.   Not only do socks protect skin from shoe friction that can cause blisters and calluses, they also keep you healthy. Walking barefoot through an airport metal detector exposes your feet to bacteria and viruses that could cause plantar warts and fungus.
  3.   Avoid bringing new shoes on vacation.   If your vacation includes walking tours, hiking or dancing, wear worn-in shoes that support and cushion your feet.
  4. Check your children’s shoes for fit and comfort.   Make sure their shoes are not too big or too small and ensure that they provide proper arch support and shock absorption.
  5. Pack flip-flops or sandals and wear sparingly. Use them in place of walking barefoot in locker rooms and around pools, where you may pick up athlete’s foot, a plantar wart infection or toenail fungus.
  6. Pack an antifungal cream or powder.   Use an antifungal product to help prevent athlete’s foot if you are staying in a hotel or swimming in public pools.
  7. Place a towel on the floor before entering the shower or bathtub.   The towel will help prevent slipping when you exit and will also help dry toes and protect them from infection.
  8. Stretch your legs and pump your feet if you are traveling more than two hours.   This will help circulate your blood to prevent dangerous blood clots in your legs known as deep vein thrombosis (DVT)
  9. Consider wearing compression socks on the aircraft.   These can help prevent blood clots and DVT by pushing the blood through the legs and back to the lungs and heart.
  10. Pack a small first-aid kit. If you develop a blister on your foot, clean your foot with saline solution, apply a small amount of antibiotic cream to the blister and cover it with a Coverlet bandage, Band-Aid or gauze. If you suffer a puncture wound, see a foot and ankle specialist within 24 hours for professional cleaning of the wound to prevent infection and other complications.

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.

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