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Why Are My Feet Always So Cold?

Have you ever had a cold sensation in your feet, even in warm conditions? Or have you noticed your feet turning white, then blue, or even red?

Cold feet is a catch-all term for when you experience a freezing sensation in your feet. What makes the actual cause trickier to determine is that cold feet is often a common symptom for a number of other conditions (foot and all). Now, we know winter is fast approaching, and you might be worried about having this annoyance happen on a daily basis. As with any foot condition, we’re here to help. Here at Feet First Clinic, we’re experts in diagnosing and treating the Most Common Foot Conditions. Generally, cold feet is not something to be particularly worried about. But, there are some instances where it’s advised to get a second opinion. Like with any foot condition, the longer you wait to get a proper diagnosis, the higher the likelihood that a condition will develop, or worsen. Find everything you need to know about cold feet including causes, and what you can do about it, below.

Causes Of Cold Feet

Red Feet Cold Temperatures

The two most common causes of cold feet include: decreased circulation or a problem with nerve function. Below you’ll find a list of conditions that may cause cold feet, or underlying conditions where cold feet can be a symptom.

Atherosclerosis

Atherosclerosis is a condition characterized by limited blood supply to your limbs. Restricted blood flow for those with atherosclerosis is typicaly due to the buildup of fats, cholesterol and other substances in and on your artery walls (plaque). Since your feet do not receive the proper oxygen and blood supply, your feet may appear blue or purple when you are sitting, and pale or white when you are lying down. You may also feel pain in your calves when you walk. Ask your doctor to check the pulse in your legs as a test for this foot condition.

Raynaud’s syndrome

Raynaud’s Syndrome is a condition of toe discolouration after exposure to hot and cold temperatures. Your toes may turn white, then blue in response to cold temperatures. Conversely, your feet and toes may turn red in response to warmth since the small blood vessels overcompensate for the temperature change. According to WebMD, there are two types of Raynaud’s syndrome: primary and secondary. Primary’s cause is unknwon, and typically harmless. Secondary Raynaud syndrome is linked to diseases that affect your autoimmune system including Rheumatoid Arthritis or lupus.

Neuropathy (nerve damage)

Neuropathy is damage or dysfunction of one or more nerves. In the feet, neuropathy directly affects the nerves that detect temperature. Damaged or dynsfunctional nerves do not work correctly so the affected person experiences cold feet. In reality, the foot may not be cold to touch.

Anemia

Anemia is a condition in which you lack enough healthy red blood cells to carry adequate oxygen to your body’s tissues. Cold feet can be a result of iron deficiency anemia. People with anemia don’t have enough red blood cells to provide oxygen to their tissue.

Should I be worried if my feet are always cold?

Generally, don’t fret over cold feet. Especially with Raynaud’s syndrome, if there are no underlying diseases, then there’s no cause for concern. However, one should be aware of the possible symptoms of more serious conditions associated with cold feet. People with Raynaud’s should be aware of associated skin changes, including tightening or thickening of the skin, nail changes, or cracks and sores that don’t heal. Additionally, if you notice fatigue, weight changes, a fever, joint pain, or a rash, consult a medical professional to get a second opinion and to determine the exact cause of cold feet. It’s always smart to be proactive, not reactive when it comes to foot health.

How can I improve circulation in my feet?

Cold Feet

There are a number of tried and true methods of improving circulation to your feet. A few tips include:

  1. Exercise. Regular activity can increase circulation to the feet. Whether it’s going for a run, bike, or walk, even getting up to move around every hour, especially when in the workplace, can do wonders for circulation, and can help control swelling in your lower legs.
  2. Elevate your feet. Put your legs up from time to time to help encourage blood flow to, and away from, your feet. Allowing gravity to help do some of the work in a natural way.
  3. Compression socks. Compression Gear is specially designed to apply pressure to your lower legs. This helps maintain blood flow, and reduces swelling.
  4. Iron supplements. If you have anemia, consider asking your doctor about iron supplements. Raising your red blood cell count can increase the oxygen going to your feet, which can help with circulation, and reduces instances of cold feet.
  5. Quit smoking. If you’re a smoker, consider quitting for the sake of your feet, as well as your overall health.
  6. Warm socks. Since your feet are prone to large swings in temperature, wearing warm socks will keepm your feet at a steady state.
  7. Proper winter boots. Invest in a Proper Pair of Winter Boots to prevent your feet from getting cold during the dark winter months.

Winter Boots In Cold Temperatures Looking Down From Above

Cold Feet? Worry Not!

We pride ourselves in effectively communicating your concerns and needs as comfortable as possible. Call anytime to ask about your specific concern and we’ll make sure to provide actionable steps towards getting your feet as happy and healthy as possible.

Call us at 416-769-3338 or Book Your Assessment Today!

Numb Toes — Causes, Symptoms, and Fixes

Numb toes are an intriguing phenomenon. Unlike so many foot conditions where pain is the symptom, numbness is the absence of feeling. And while a numb sensation may not be cause for concern, there are certain instances where it can be damaging.

The most common cause of numb toes is compression. By this, compression means the act of pressing something into a smaller space or putting pressure on it. Typically, ill-fitting footwear or a narrow toe box can put undue pressure on your toes. Given the fact that we wear shoes for hours on end, one can understand how continuous compression can have a negative effect.

Toe numbness can be a cause of concern, but rarely a medical emergency. If you experience numb toes on isolated occasions, continue to monitor your feet. If, however, a numb sensation is a regular occurrence, contact a medical professional for possible causes.

Numb Toes: Why/How Do They Occur?

There are a number of causes to a numbing sensation in your toes. From improper footwear to a serious disease like diabetes, there is a broad range of factors to consider. Below you’ll find a comprehensive list to why you may be experiencing numbness to your toes.

Are Numb Toes A Sign Of Diabetes?

Diabetes Equipment On A Table

High sugar and fats in your blood can cause your toes to go numb. Poor circulation to your toes causes a numbness sensation as it limits blood supply to the region. The condition that causes damage to your nerves as a result of diabetes is called diabetic neuropathy.

First and foremost, ask your doctor to check your blood sugar levels to see if diabetes is the cause. Additionally, you can

  • Check your toes regularly (i.e.: daily);
  • Moisturize your feet;
  • Take care of your toenails, and consult a podiatrist for a plan of action;
  • Wear proper footwear.

Morton’s Neuroma

Morton’s Neuroma is a type of nerve compression syndrome which involves nerves in the smaller toes. The pressure on that nerve may cause pain in the ball of your foot. Nerve compression can also lead to numb toes.

Like metatarsalgia (see below), common ways to reduce and prevent Morton’s neuroma include proper orthopaedic footwear, custom foot orthotics, rest (from any repetitive activity like running and jumping), and icing.

Metatarsalgia

Numb Toes

Metatarsalgia, a term used for any pain found in the ball of the foot, can bring a numb sensation in the toes. Typically, pain starts in the ball of the foot, but like with many foot conditions, the end result can be in another part of the foot. In this case, the toes.

Causes of metatarsalgia are typically specific to overuse. For example, long-distance runners often suffer from metatarsalgia because of the constant pressure to the ball of the foot. However, the shape of your foot may also play a role. High arches, bunions, and curled toes can be a primary, or secondary cause of metatarsalgia.

How do I get rid of numbness in my toes?

  • Swap out shoes
  • Custom foot orthotics
  • Rest
  • Icing

If numbness or pain persists, contact us to book an appointment.

Raynaud’s Phenomenon

Raynaud’s Phenomenon is a condition of discolouration of the toes after exposure to changes in temperature (cold or hot) or emotional events. This condition is apparent because of its visibility. Your toes may turn white, then blue, and then red as blood flow diminishes, and then resumes.

According to WebMD, there are two types of Raynaud’s Phenomenon: primary and secondary. Primary occurs by itself, and the cause is unknown. Primary is usually harmless. But secondary Raynaud’s is linked to diseases that affect your autoimmune system, like Rheumatoid Arthritis or lupus.

Why does discolouration occur? There is an abnormal spasm of the blood vessels causing diminished blood flow to the toes.

Frostbite

Winter Boots On A Frosty Ground

It’s around that time of year again. Temperature plummets, and the risk of Frostbite does the opposite—skyrockets. Frostbite is an injury caused by freezing of the skin and underlying tissues. Your toes are particularly susceptible to frostbite, which begins when your skin becomes cold and red, then numb, then hard and pale.

The challenge with frostbite is that it starts out as frostnip. Numbness reduces sensation in the toes, and hides discomfort and nerve damage. If not addressed, frostnip can lead to superficial frostbite followed deep frostbite, the most severe of the three stages.

To prevent frostbite from occurring, taking the following precautions:

  • Wear moisture-wicking socks that fit correctly, and have insulation
  • Change out wet socks as soon as possible
  • Watch for early signs of frostbite like red skin, or numbness
  • Keep moving: encourage blood flow to the area

Check out our complete guide on How To Protect Your Feet This Winter.

Beriberi

Beriberi is a disease caused by a vitamin B-1 deficiency, also known as thiamine deficiency, according to Healthline.com. Specifically, dry beriberi is a concern for your toes, as the condition damages the nerves. The primary cause of beriberi is low thiamine. Those with a rich and well-balanced diet aren’t at risk; those with an alcohol disorder, for example. are at higher risk.

Common symptoms include decreased muscle function, pain and tingling, and loss of feeling in the toes. Fortunately, one can prevent beriberi by following a vitamin-enriched diet, if thiamine deficiency is the cause.

Peroneal Nerve Injury

Peroneal nerve injury and its association with numb toes is a fantastic example of treating the cause, not the symptom. The peroneal nerve branches from the sciatic nerve and provides sensation to the front and sides of the legs and to the top of the feet. However, what you may not know is that the nerve controls the muscles in the leg that lift the ankle and toes upward, according to John Hopkins Medicine.

An injury to the peroneal nerve can affect its ability to control the muscles in the toes, leading to a numbing sensation. Or worse, a sharp pain. Typically, injuries to the nerve include trauma to the knee: fractures, sprains, dislocations, and surgery. Common symptoms of a peroneal nerve injury include:

  • An inability to point the toes upward or lift the ankle up
  • Numb or tingling toes
  • Reduced ability to move the foot

If you think you may have an injury to your peroneal nerve, consult a medical professional for a proper diagnosis.

Toe Deformities

Toe deformities, like Bunions, can also put uneven pressure on your toes. This skeletal deformity for example can put pressure on the outside of your feet.

Experiencing Numb Toes? Have No Fear!

We have all your solution under one roof. Open 6 days a week, we’ll be happy to help inform you and solve all your concerns any day at your convenience! Call us at 416-769-3338 or Book Your Assessment Today!

Ankle Popping And Cracking—Causes And Remedies

Does your ankle crack or pop when you rotate it? You’re not alone. Ankle cracking and ankle popping are quite common, and there’s no immediate need to worry.

In fact, joint popping has a medical term. Crepitus is abnormal popping or crackling of a joint, which may be sometimes uncomfortable or painful. There are two variations to crepitus:

  • Bone crepitus: When two fragments of a fracture are moved against each other.
  • Joint crepitus: When the affected joint is passively moved with one hand, while the other hand is placed on the joint to feel the crepitus.

an

Why Does My Ankle Crack Every Time I Rotate It?

Ankle cracking or ankle popping can occur for two primary reasons

  • Tendons rubbing over a bone
  • Gas being released from the joint

A snapping sound in the ankle is most commonly caused by the tendon slipping over the bone. As you rotate your ankle, this triggers the snapping or clicking sound. Alternatively, an ankle may crack when rotated because as a force is exerted on the joint, bubbles of nitrogen in the synovial fluid burst. This can happen after long periods of sedentary, or if your muscles are tight.

Peroneal Subluxation / Dislocation

Ankle cracking and ankle popping may be due to the peroneal tendon rubbing over the joint. The peroneal tendons help support and stabilize the foot and ankle, and protects your lower leg from sprains. One peroneal tendon attaches to the outer part of the midfoot, while the other tendon runs under the foot and attaches near the inside of the arch. If either tendon is damaged, or slips out of place due to injury, it can rub on the bone cause cracking and popping. This cause is relatively uncommon, and seen mostly in athletes who severely sprain their ankles.

As you may know, cracking and popping is not exclusive to your ankles. In fact, many parts of your body can be ‘cracked’ in the traditional sense. Have you ever heard of the expression, “cracking your knuckles?” Understandably, knuckles, your hallux (toes), and neck joints can be easily cracked with minimal effort.

Is It Bad That My Ankles Crack?

A common claim to cracking your joints is that it causes arthritis. However, this argument is not backed by evidence. One study on joint cracking concludes that, “the evidence for the association of knuckle cracking and osteoarthritis comes mainly from observational studies that have failed to show an association.”

The truth of the matter is that ankle popping or cracking is not necessarily a bad thing. However, if when your ankle cracks, pain and swelling occur, then you should seek advice from a medical professional. As Healthline recommends, strengthening your ankles with Ankle Exercises can help prevent injuries, like ankle sprains. Ankle exercise can also help strengthen the muscles and tendons that help stabilize your lower leg.

crackedheels

How Do You Get Rid of Cracks In Your Ankles?

Cracks in your ankle are typically not a cause for concern. If you’re annoyed by the cracks, clicks, or pops, then there are some DIY treatment methods aimed at strengthening your ankles.

Ankle Exercises

Perform these ankle exercises to heklp prevent ankle popping or cracking:

  • Ankle circles
  • Calf raises
  • Single-legged balance
  • Draw the alphabet

Doing these in the morning will help loosen up your ankle and prevent stiffness, especially shortly after waking up. Incorporate these ankle exercises with the other Morning Foot Exercises you perform to start off your day.

Custom Foot Orthotics

If you have chronic ankle pain, Custom Foot Orthotics may be just what’s needed. Orthotics are custom-built corrective shoe inserts that provide personalized support for your lower legs. These devices work to correct faulty foot mechanics and redistribute pressures along the bottom aspects of the foot.

As always, if you have any questions about or concerns with your feet, please don’t hesitate to reach out to speak with one of our Licensed Chiropodists.

Is it OK to Crack Your Toes?

One of the most common joints in your body to crack is your hallux, the medical term for a person’s big toe.

According to WebMD, “as a rule, painless cracking of joints is not harmful.” But, if it’s painful or if there is signs of discomfort, then there may be a greater underlying problem.

Your Leg Solutions Live Here!

Does your ankle bother you? Our team is trained to handle any and all your foot health concerns. From mild, to critical, we cover all aspects of the foot. Call us to ask about actionable steps towards your solution today.

Call us at 416-769-3338 or Book Your Assessment Today!

How To Choose Winter Boots

Winter is approaching, fast. For better or for worse, cooler temperatures and shorter days are on the horizon. Winter doesn’t have to be a season of dread. Proper preparation starts with your feet. Investing in proper winter boots for harsh conditions is essential for a healthy body.

Here in Canada, there’s no shortage of harsh winter weather. Your footwear should do it all: protect against the cold, be waterproof, yet be stylish. Above all else, your winter boots should be comfortable. After all, you’ll be wearing your boots for 3-4 months, sometimes for hours on end. Canadians Walking In The SnowWe’re here to make your life easier. That’s why we’ve put together this complete winter boot guide. Below you’ll find how to recognize the signs of needing new winter boots, how to choose the right pair, and what’s actually available.

Signs You Need New Winter Boots

Winter Boots In Snow That Need ReplacingThere are a number of signs to look for when considering whether you should buy new winter boots. To start, if you develop any sort of foot pain or condition like blisters, calluses, or aggravated bunions, consider new boots.

Beyond the immediate discomfort, look for signs of muscle soreness or fatigue. These may be signs that your body is compensating for improper footwear, and may lead to problems down the road. Look for these signs that you need new winter boots:

  • Experience Blisters and calluses often.
  • Develop foot pain.
  • Trip or slip more often.
  • Have sore muscles after walking in your shoes.
  • Visual wear and tear on the boots itself.
  • Holes in the sole.

If you experience any of these conditions or problems, book an appointment with one of our licensed chiropodists for a thorough assessment.

Tips for Buying Winter Boots

There are many variables to consider when buying winter boots. After all, you’ll likely want to mix fashion and function. Follow these tried and true tips for choosing the right winter boot for your feet.

  • Arch support: Choose a boot with proper arch cushioning and support to prevent conditions like plantar fasciitis, heel spurs, and Morton’s neuroma.
  • Avoid high heels: High heels can put strain on your hips and feet, as well as be unstable given winter footing conditions.
  • Tread: depending on the climate and your needs, certain treads are more suitable for uneven grounds, more rugged footing, or for walking flat
  • Waterproof: keeping moisture away from your feet is essential in winter. Dark and moist places are a ground for athlete’s foot, blisters, and frostbite.
  • Fit: Be sure your boots have plenty of toe space, especially if you wear thicker socks in the winter or suffer from a foot condition like Bunions, Hallux Rigidus, or hallux limitus.
  • Buying: Did you know our feet are larger in the second half of the day? Our body retains water and our feet expand slightly. Trying shoes on at the end of the day accommodates for sizing.
  • Cost: This is the elephant in the room. Choose a boot that’s within your price range. However, consider winter boots an investment. These boots could last you multiple years depending on the quality of the product.
  • Warmth: If you live in an extreme cold climate, find boots with proper insulation to avoid frostbite.

OK, But What’s Available?

Our clinic take a preventative approach to foot care in which the patient is empowered to be an active participant in his or her treatment. Our on-site shoe store provides patients with therapeutic tools and resources including orthopaedic footwear, insoles, medical devices, and over-the-counter solutions.

We carry a selection of top winter boots from the following:

Below you’ll find a few of our favourites from Sorel, MEPHISTO, Clarks, and Ara. These brands are a mix of fashion and function. Sorel are more rugged and tougher in Canadian winter while MEPHISTO are more stylish and better for everyday occasions.

Sorel Caribou Boot

Winter Boots

MEPHISTO Agatha

Winter Boots

Clarks Batcombe Alp Gore-Tex

Winter Boots

Ara Aubrey Boot

Winter Boots

Visit the clinic to get a feel for each boot and to try on a pair. The clinic is open six days a week including on Saturday to accommodate your schedule.

Avoid The Winter Blues—Visit Feet First Clinic For Your Winter Boots Needs

If you’re looking for tips on how to prepare for winter, book an appointment with one of our Licensed Chiropodists for a thorough assessment or visit the clinic to browse our wide range of footwear options.

From leading brands to Shoe Fitting to Custom Foot Orthotics, we’re your one-stop shop for your footwear needs. Call us at 416-769-3338 or Book Your Assessment Today!

What Ageing Does To Our Feet

Ageing Feet: Common Conditions

Ageing is inevitable. Foot problems aren’t. Understandably, as we age, our bodies are no longer what they once were. This includes ageing feet. After all, we put our bodies under immense wear and tear over the years. Ageing feet are prone to a number of conditions. In fact, many older adults are prone to certain foot conditions they’ve never experienced before. As we age, prevention is key. Treatment and recovery can be more difficult as the body ages. Learn about the various foot conditions that may affect the older population.

Fat Pad Atrophy

Fat Pad Atrophy is the thinning of the pad that protects the underlying structures of your feet, such as neurovascular tissues, ligaments and tendons. This is the “cushioning” of your feet. The fat pad protects your feet in everyday activity. Over time, this 1-2 cm pad begins to wear down as you age. According to the Ontario Podiatric Medical Association, by the age of 50, people lose half of the fat pad. Treatment includes custom foot orthotics, and orthopaedic footwear, both of which are sold in-store at Feet First Clinic.

Morton’s Neuroma

Morton’s Neuroma is foot condition in the ball of your foot. It occurs most commonly in the area between your third and fourth toes. Morton’s neuroma can feel like you’re walking on a pebble and worsens with tight footwear and high heels. Neuroma is more common in females and inactive individuals, usually aged 15-50.

Cracked Heels

When the skin on the bottom of your heels becomes overly dry, it can split and crack. This condition is known as Cracked Heels. These fissures can be painful and bleed. If they persist, your heels can become infected.

Plantar Fasciitis

Plantar fasciitis is an inflammation of the tissue (plantar fascia) along the bottom of your foot between your heel bone and toes. This condition of the arch is most commonly associated with overuse. Pain is gradual, but can be sharp upon first steps after prolonged rest—like when waking up.

Osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis is a common condition for adults over 70. This  degenerative joint disease is the most common form of arthritis. Breakdown of cartilage and formation of osteophyte (bony outgrowth) are common symptoms.

Risk factors include:

  • Gender: women are more likely than men to suffer from OA, especially in the hands and knees.
  • Joint injury: prior trauma can alter joint alignment and cause more overuse in certain areas.
  • Obesity: increased weight will increase load on the joints, causing earlier onset of osteoarthritis.
  • Biomechanics: deviations in foot and knee joints can cause excess wear on certain joint areas.

Bone Spurs

Bone spurs are bone outgrowths caused by osteoarthritis. Often, bone spurs develop at joints, and where bones meet. The most common place for bone spurs is in the foot. Conditions include hallux rigidus and heel spurs.

Hallux Rigidus

Ageing Feet
Osteophyte on top of the left metatarsophalangeal joint (MTPJ) due to hallux rigidus.

Hallux rigidus is the medical term for stiff big toe. Hallux rigidus is a stiff first metatarsophalangeal joint (MTPJ) characterized by a bone spur on the big toe. This condition develops over time due to osteoarthritis and progressively worsens. Since it’s a wear-and-tear condition, ageing feet are particularly prone. Custom foot orthotics and stiff shoes with a rocker midsole can help prevent and limit the onset of hallux rigidus. Otherwise, surgery may be your best option.

Heel Spurs are a bony growth from the underside of the heel bone that forms due to repetitive muscular and ligament strain. Common activities include: walking, running, and jumping. Heel spurs are managed by rest, exercise, custom foot orthotics, supportive footwear, a night splint, over-the-counter medications such as ibuprofen, and cortisone injections.

Bunions

Hallux valgus, bunion in woman foot on white background
Hallux valgus, bunion in foot on white background

One in three people older than 18 have bunions making it one of the most common foot conditions. Bunions are bony protrusions along the edge of the big toe. At the site of the MTPJ, which bears up to 60% of our body weight, bones are particularly susceptible to shifting. Herein lies the start of a bunion. The bones of the big toe and foot can deviate from proper alignment and create the angular protrusion that juts out from the base of the big toe. Studies show that bunion deformity occurs more frequently in women and older individuals.

Ingrown Toenails

An ingrown toenail occurs when the side of the toenail curls down and pierces the flesh of the toe as the nail grows. Older adults are prone to ingrown toenails because of curved or thick nails. Thick and curved nails make ingrown toenails more prevalent.

Causes include:

  • Cutting your toenail too short or rounding the edge of the nail
  • Wearing shoes or socks that don’t fit well can also cause an ingrown toenail
  • Tight shoes

Have an ingrown toenail? Visit Feet First Clinic for a proper diagnosis and treatment.

Flat Feet

Flat feet occur when your arch collapses, and can be a sign of ageing feet. Adults may get flat feet because of an injury, obesity, diabetes or high blood pressure. Over time, the tendons supporting your arch weaken, and your feet flatten. Orthotics, physical therapy, braces, and surgery help.

Gout

Middle-aged men’s ageing feet are most susceptible to gout, a common and complex form of arthritis. Gout is due to a condition known as hyperuricemia, which occurs when there is too much uric acid in the body. Red meat, shellfish, alcohol, and sugary foods all contribute to the build of uric acid. As you age, avoid the aforementioned to limit your chance of gout.

Bursitis

According to Harvard Medical School, bursitis is most common in people who are overweight, elderly or diabetic. Bursitis is an inflammation of a bursa, and often occurs in the foot. Bursae, which are small sacs of fluid that protect your tendons, bones, and joints, can swell and become painful due to repetitive impact. Fortunately, ice, and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as aspirin, ibuprofen, and naproxen can help.

Hammertoe

 

hammertoe 2

Hammertoes look like curled toes. (Read: I Have Curled Toes — Is There Something Wrong?) Hammertoe is a toe deformity in which the middle toe joint is abnormally contracted a bent causing the toe to curl downward. This can typically affect one or more toes and can either be fixed or mobile, and the second toe is most often affected.

Stress Fractures

Stress fractures are a small crack in a bone. Repetitive use, or trauma can cause the bone to break. According to one study, “the incidence of stress injuries in older athletes is noticeably increasing, associated with a more active, older population.” Unfortunately, there isn’t much you can do with a stress fracture other than to rest, or stay off your feet. However, non-impact exercise like swimming is a way to stay active, but be careful of aggravating the bone.

Ageing Feet? We’re Here To Help!

As we age, regular foot health check-ups are essential. Be proactive, not reactive. Book an appointment with one of our Licensed Chiropodists for a thorough assessment to determine an appropriate preventative plan, or for treatment.

Call us at 416-769-3338 or Book Your Assessment Today!

I Have Curled Toes — Is There Something Wrong?

“I have curled toes. Is there something wrong with my feet?” Everyones’ toes come in different shapes and sizes. Long, short, stubby, curled, straight. Just because your feet are a certain way, doesn’t necessarily mean there’s anything wrong. Curled toes are characterized by your toes bending downwards. Typically your joints at the end or middle of the toe cause the downward trend.

Curled Toes: What Are They?

Curled Toes

There are a number of conditions associated with curled toes. Everything – from your shoes to your lifestyle – affect our feet in different ways. It’s important to identify the known symptoms to diagnose the condition.

The following three Toe Deformities are curled toes.

Hammertoes

The smallest four toes of each foot have three bony segments connected by two joints. A Hammertoe has an abnormal bend in the middle joint of the toe. This term describes all lesser toe deformities. The second toe is most often affected. If your second toe is the longest of all five, then hammertoe is more likely. Hammertoe can affect one or more toes and can either be flexible or rigid.

Claw Toe

A claw toe has an abnormal bend in both the middle joint and the last joint closest to the toenail of a toe. Claw toe occurs mostly in the second through fifth toes.

Mallet Toe

A mallet toe has an abnormal bend in the joint of the toe that is closest to the toenail.

Curled Toes: Causes

Your Shoes

Most often, curled toes develop over time from wearing Footwear that’s too short, narrow, tall, or pointy. If you’re a runner, ill-fitting shoes can exacerbate the problem even more considering the impact and duration of exercise. Ill-fitting shoes crowd the toes, causing the tendons of the toes to contract and tighten. Extended time in this position causes a shift in the shape of your foot, curling your toes. Additionally, high arches and Bunions reduce the room in your shoe’s toe box. For these reasons, people with high arches and bunions may be more prone to curled toes.

To solve these problems, get a proper footwear fitting. In fact, ill-fitting shoes that are the leading cause of foot pain and foot problems and eight out of 10 people’s shoes fit incorrectly.Curled Toes

Shoe Fitting sessions are done at your local shoe store, including here at Feet First Clinic. We offer every customer a comprehensive footwear assessment free of charge to ensure that you invest in the healthiest footwear for your unique feet. Our footwear specialists and chiropodists will help match your foot shape, structure, and alignment to specific shoes and footwear features that answer to your corrective, supportive, or accommodative needs.

Other Reasons

Alternatively, muscle imbalances can cause curled toes. These imbalances can occur due to a variety of reasons including faulty biomechanics, long toes, neuromuscular disease, systemic conditions (such as rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes), and and genetics.

Treatment for Curled Toes

Footwear

As mentioned, the best treatment for curled toes is to invest and choose the proper footwear. If necessary, custom foot orthotics may be of benefit as well depending on your gait and foot type. Visit us in-store at 2481 Bloor St. W in Toronto. We’re open six days a week.  Looking for footwear? No appointment necessary, and we carry Industry-leading Products.

Exercises

At-home exercises and stretches are the best form of DIY to help prevent and treat curled toes. Mix any number of these stretches and exercises into your routine to better the health of your feet.

  • Stretch your toes: If your curled toes are flexible, stretch your toes as straight as possible and hold for 5-10 seconds. Avoid this if it’s too painful, but once those tendons shorten, or shorten the reps before building up to longer time.
  • Toe Lifts: Raise your toes off the ground and lower. Repeat 10-15 times. Make an effort to spread your toes when doing the lifts for additional benefit.
  • Floor Grips: With your feet flat on the floor, grip the ground with your toes to move forward. Moving ahead even a few centimetres at a time will be a challenge.
  • Marble pickup: Place any number of marbles on the ground and pick them up with your toes. This will help extend the range of motion of your toes and strengthen the tendons and ligaments in your toes
  • Towel curls: Place a towel on the ground and scrunch it with your toes. Aim to curl up the toe.

Curled Toes? We’re Here To Help!

If you have curled toes and want to discuss your options, book an appointment with one of our Licensed Chiropodists for a thorough assessment to determine an appropriate treatment plan.

Call us at 416-769-3338 or Book Your Assessment Today!

Top 5 Common Toe Conditions

Your toes are one of the most essential parts of your body. Toes help your feet bear the weight of your body when you walk. Toes also provide our bodies balance and support. These core functions are important to our everyday life, and the weight our toes bear makes them vulnerable to injury. Plus, the fact that many of us are on our feet for hours on end, toe health is essential.

Below you’ll find the five of the most common toe conditions.

Athlete’s Foot

Athlete’s Foot is a contagious fungal skin infection that afflicts the skin on soles of the feet and between the toes. Fungi prevalent in Athlete’s Foot thrive in dark moist areas and feed on keratin. This means that our feet, which spend most of the day bound up in socks and shoes, present an ideal environment for the proliferation of a fungal infection. Consequently, 1 in 10 people have athlete’s foot, or about 10% of the population making it one of the most common toe conditions. A common sign of an athlete’s foot is translucent white moist skin between the toes on one or both feet.

Additional symptoms of athlete’s foot include:

  • A scaly and raw looking rash
  • Itching
  • Stinging
  • Burning
  • Foot pain
  • Dry skin on the soles of the feet
  • Peeling skin on the soles of the feet
  • Cracked Skin on the Heels

Fortunately, treatment is simple yet effective. Over-the-counter topical antifungals are the most common remedy for athlete’s foot. Products include medicated creams, ointments, sprays, and powders. Our Toronto foot clinic is open six days a week.

Hallux Rigidus/Hallux Limitus

Toe Conditions
A bone spur on top of the left metatarsophalangeal joint (MTPJ) due to hallux rigidus.

Hallux rigidus and hallux limitus are variations of a similar toe condition. Both are disorders of the joint at the base of the big toe. Hallux means big toe while rigidus and limitus refers to the damage of the joint and the degree of flexibility of the big toe. Rigidus refers to a rigid big toe, and limitus, a less severe version of injury, refers to limited flexibility and an earlier stage of the condition.

Hallux rigidus is the loss of flexibility due to arthritis in the first MTP (metatarsophalangeal) joint. As the toe stiffens, friction to the joint may lead to pain and/or a Bone Spur — your body’s defense mechanism to prevent further harm. As it’s a progressive condition, damage to the joint cannot be reversed. But, with proper measures including orthotics, proper footwear, and joint exercises, one can live pain free with the condition.

Hallux limitus on the other hand is characterized by limited flexibility in the joint and trouble bending the big toe. Typically, no bone spurs are present (yet). Flexibility is greater with those in hallux limitus than the more progressive hallux rigidus.

Bone Spur

Severe versions of hallux rigidus – with complete loss of flexibility in the joint – may require surgery. Options include:

  • A cheilectomy, removal of bone spurs from around the big toe joint. This is done to free the joint of volume, and to encourage greater degrees of flexibility.
  • A second procedure, which is permanent, is called arthrodesis. In these cases, the joints in the big toe are fused, eliminating the joint surface leaving the joint permanently stiff.

Hallux rigidus and limitus can be caused by abnormal foot anatomy or a history of trauma including turf toe, a toe fracture or repeated strain to the joint, like running for example. However, there are no specific causes. Rather, hallux rigidus and hallux limitus are influenced by several contributing factors.

Ingrown Toenails

An Ingrown Toenail occurs when the side of the toenail curls down and pierces the flesh of the toe as the nail grows. Untreated ingrown toenails can easily become infected.

To start, you’ll want to focus on treatment, and then prevention.

  • Place a spacer or splint under the ingrown edge of the toenail
  • Soak feet in Epsom salt and water bath at home to flush out the infection and manage pain and inflammation
  • Trim the ingrown portion of the nail
  • In recurring cases, surgical removal (outpatient) of part of your toenail 
  • If your toenail becomes infected you may need topical or oral antibiotics

Prevention includes:

  • Avoid shoes that crowd your toes
  • Trim your toenails straight across and file the corners
  • Avoid injury to your toenails

Blisters

Blisters are among the most common toe conditions. Although common, blisters typically are not serious and can be treated immediately for relief within a few days. Blisters are small, fluid-filled bubbles on the upper most layer of the skin. Friction against your skin and your socks and shoes causes your skin to form small bubbles to prevent further damage to the underlying skin. More serious blisters may contain blood as the vessels at the surface of your skin burst.

These skin conditions typically heal themselves within a few days. However, it’s advised to cover blisters either with a basic bandage, tape, or a Band-aid, all of which are available at our Toronto foot clinic. These measures are simply to prevent unwanted popping of the blister and to shield your skin from friction.

To schedule best foot care treatment with our licensed Chiropodists (foot specialists), use the booking form at the bottom of this page or call 416-769-FEET(3338).

Bunions

Toe Conditions

A Bunion is a deformity of the metatarsophalangeal (MTP) joint. A bony bump protrudes from the base of the big toe causing pain, redness, and sometimes even swelling. Bunions are atop the list of most common toe problems. It affects about 23% of adults. The common age range of onset is 20-50, and women are more commonly affected than men.

Like hallux rigidus and other progressive foot conditions, a bunion is irreversible once it starts. So you can’t reverse what’s already been down, but you can take measures to slow down the deformity over time. The sooner you address the problem, the slower the rate of bunion growth.

Do you have a bunion or hallux rigidus? Read: Hallux Rigidus or Bunions: What’s the Difference?

Measures to help slow a bunion’s progression include:

Surgery is also an option. Typically, surgery includes removing the protruding portion of the bone, and re-aligning the joints in the big toe. Like with any foot condition, educate yourself on the pros and cons of surgery to determine: Is Foot Surgery Worth It? But, there’s still hope for those with bunions. Check out these Effective Ways That you Can Treat Your Bunion Pain.

A bunion’s sibling: A bunionette

Similarly, a Bunionette (or tailor’s bunion) is a bunion on the opposite side of the foot. A bunionette appears on the pinkie toe and affects the fifth metatarsal. It’s smaller than a bunion, but still appears as a bump. Pain associated with a bunionette occurs on the outside of the foot, and tight shoes may exacerbate the condition. Shoes with narrow toe boxes are particularly problematic for those with a bunionette. Narrow toe boxes increase friction against the bony protrusion. The causes of a bunionette are classified as either intrinsic or extrinsic.

Causes include:

  • External pressure on the forefoot
  • Tight shoes
  • Genetics
  • Foot anatomy
  • Faulty mechanics

Bunion and bunionette treatment is similar. As such, properly-fitting shoes are an essential step. The team here at First Feet Clinic specializes in Shoe Fitting. No appointment is necessary to find a pair of shoes that fit your foot profile. Additionally, stretching your shoe can provide benefits as it artificially provides additional toe room. This allows your bunionette more space in the shoe.

Experiencing Toe Pain? We’re Here For Your Toe Conditions

Our team is trained to handle any and all your foot health concerns including common toe conditions. From bunions to blisters to ingrown toenails and orthotics, we cover all sides of the foot needs spectrum. Call us to ask about actionable steps towards your solution today.

Call us at 416-769-3338 or Click to Book Your Assessment.

4 Common Ankle Injuries

Did you know that of all major joints, the ankle is the most commonly injured? In fact, there are a variety of conditions that affect the ankle. Here are the 4 Most Common Ankle Injuries.

Ankle Sprain

Sprains rank number one among the most common ankle injuries. There are three primary forms of ankle sprains: inversion, eversion and high. Ankle Sprains occur when the ligaments overstretch and damage. Generally, sprains take 2-3 weeks to recover from, but you can continue to walk and be mobile if you have your ankle taped, and secured. Though ankle sprains are a very common sports injury, they can happen to anyone.

Inversion

An inversion sprain occurs when your ankle twists inwards.

  • Ankle rolls inwards
  • Most common form of ankle sprain

Eversion

An eversion sprain occurs when your ankle twists outwards. Eversion sprains impact the deltoid and medial ligaments of your ankle. Eversion sprains aren’t as common as inversion sprains because of the ligaments’ strength.

  • Ankle rolls outwards
  • Less common than inversion sprains
  • Accounts for 10-20% of sprains

High Ankle

A high angle sprain occurs when the foot twists outward due to the force. Here, we get a sprain of the syndesmotic ligaments which connect the tibia and fibula (shin bones).

  • Affects the high ankle
  • More common in sports (football, basketball, soccer) than in everyday life

To help prevent sprains, follow these Ankle Strengthening Exercises. Additionally, a Better Shoe Can Prevent Ankle Sprains. You’ll want shoes with a good fit, strong treads, and orthotic inserts if necessary. We carry a full line of footwear in the clinic including Leading Shoe Brands that you can choose from.

Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome

Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome is a common foot condition that affects the ankle. It’s a result of a damaged posterior tibial nerve, and is considered the ankle’s version of carpal tunnel syndrome. Tarsal tunnel syndrome is the most common nerve entrapment of the ankle. The tarsal tunnel is a narrow space on the inside of the ankle next to the ankle bones. The tunnel is covered with a thick ligament that helps contain its inner workings – veins, arteries, tendons, and nerves. Notably, the tibial nerve runs through the tarsal tunnel.

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Tarsal tunnel syndrome occurs when the tarsal tunnel compresses. Imagine you squeeze a casing of wires. The more pressure you exert, the more you put onto the fillings inside. In this case, these are the nerves, arteries, and tendons inside. Symptoms include sharp, shooting pain, pins and needles, or a burning sensation on the inside of your foot, close to where your foot meets your ankle. Some say that pain can be severe enough to cause a person to limp, and individuals may describe a Radiating Pain that cannot be localized to one spot.

Achilles Tendonitis

Common Ankle Injuries

The Achilles is the longest tendon in the body, and can withhold extreme amounts of stress. The tendon connects the calf to the heel bone, and can become inflammed over time if overused. If this occurs, the injury is known as Achilles tendonitis. The most common symptom of Achilles Tendonitis is a mild ache or pain in the back of the lower-leg or above the heel, especially first thing in the morning and after exercise. The tendon can also be warm, swollen and irritated with certain ankle movements. This can cause pain in and around the ankle as well, as other joints and muscles attempt to compensate for the damage to the Achilles.

The following can cause Achilles tendonitis:

  • lack of conditioning in your lower leg muscles
  • excess strain on the Achilles tendon
  • bone spurs in the heel rub on the Achilles tendon
  • untreated flat feet lead to stress on the posterior tibial tendon

To treat, and prevent Achilles tendonitis, you can:

Dorsal Spurs

A Bone Spur is a benign growth and occurs on all parts of the body including on the heel, ankle, and toes. Specific to the ankle area, a Dorsal Spur is a bone growth at the insertion of the Achilles tendon. Bone spurs develop as your body’s response to trauma in the area. The body’s defense mechanism begins to grow bone to help protect the area against further damage. So, as these deposits build up, there is less area for your body to move freely, which can cause seperate issues due to the underlying bone spur.

There are two sides to this: one is that the injury is quite common. Two is that although bone spurs are common, only 5% of people with a bone spur feel pain.

Dorsal spurs occur because:

  • Straining foot muscles and ligaments
  • Over-stretching the plantar fascia
  • Repeated tearing of the thin lining of the heel bone

Generally, you should not worry about dorsal spurs. But if you do suspect a dorsal spur, or any sort of other ankle pain over more than a short period of time, consult a foot expert for next steps.

Questions About Your Ankle(s)? We Can Help!

Do you have an ankle injury? We’re confident in our ability to help inform you and solve all types of common ankle injuries with the least amount of discomfort as possible. Don’t hesitate: Call us to ask about a quick question and we’d be happy to point you in the right direction!

Call us at 416-769-3338 or Book Your Assessment Today!

Is Compression Gear Worth It?

Compression Gear is often Touted as The Secret to Recovery – True or False?

Since the 1980s, spandex in sports and exercise seems to have grown exponentially. And compression gear is not only prevalent in sports. Athletic compression gear is a spin-off of original Medical Leggings, which have been used for decades to treat blood clots and certain circulatory disorders, according to the Globe and Mail. Medical leggings use “graduated” compression, which squeezes more the farther they are from the heart. This prevents blood from pooling in the legs; that’s why you see people on planes, trains, and at work wearing them.

What’s The Deal With Compression Gear?

Compression stockings are specialized garments that put therapeutic pressure on your legs in order to increase circulation and prevent fluid retention (edema/swelling) during prolonged periods of sitting and standing or in those with venous diseases. Compared to traditional hosiery, compression stockings fit more snugly and use stronger elastic to apply a gentle squeeze to the legs and feet.

Motif_Compression_Socks_Site_Graphic

Generally, compression gear comes in all forms – socks, sleeves, long tights, and shirts. The idea behind compression gear is that it increases blood flow throughout the body. Improved blood flow helps bring oxygen to the muscles that need it, and is often used by athletes and amateurs alike for recovery after exercise. Conversely, increased blood flow helps remove unwanted byproducts of exercise including lactic acid away from the muscles.

However, the science on compression gear is mixed. The reasoning: there are conflicting results on optimal use. Generally, it’s believed that compression gear helps with recovery and that this recovery helps next-day or succeeding performance. However, it’s also believed that compression gear does not aid in the performance itself. For example, wearing compression socks during activity. Obviously, this doesn’t apply to everyone as not all strive for athletic greatness.

For The General Population,

Compression apparel shines are around controlling swelling and enhancing circulation. If you experience swollen calves from sitting for prolonged periods at work, compression sleeves may help control circulation. Professions where prolonged standing or sitting include education, travel, retail, restaurants, medical, civil service, manufacturing, and construction.

Compression from apparel can help:

  • Reduce the incidence of blood clots
  • Reduce the incidence of varicose veins
  • Prevent complications resulting from Diabetes
  • Prevent complications resulting from veinous disorders

Others may enjoy compression gear purely for comfort.

What Does The Science Say?

One study in the National Library of Medicine concluded:

The largest benefits resulting from compression gear (CG) were for strength recovery from 2 to 8 hours and >24 hours. Considering exercise modality, compression most effectively enhanced recovery from resistance exercise, particularly at time points >24 h. The use of CG would also be recommended to enhance next-day cycling performance. The benefits of CG in relation to applied pressures and participant training status are unclear and limited by the paucity of reported data.

Another study, from Frontiers in Physiology in 2018, found the following effect of compression gear on DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness):

Active recovery, massage, compression garments, immersion, contrast water therapy, and cryotherapy induced a small to large decrease (−2.26 < g < −0.40) in the magnitude of DOMS, while there was no change for the other methods.

As you can see, there are benefits, it just depends on what you’re looking to get out of compression apparel.

Where Can I Buy Compression Gear?

We carry leading brands at Feet First Clinic including Sigvaris, high quality and innovative medical compression solutions that improve health and well being. Drop-in compression wear fitting is offered during clinic hours Monday-Saturday and is a complimentary service. No is appointment required.

Compression stockings must be the correct size in order to get optimal benefits. Feet First Clinic has certified fitters on staff who will determine your specific size based on measuring the circumference of your ankles, calves, thighs, and hips.

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Do I Need A Prescription For Compression Stockings?

Compression stockings and socks are covered under many supplemental insurance plans. If you’re unsure about your benefits and compression wear coverage, check with your employer’s HR department, your insurance policy provider, or Feet First Clinic can get a policy breakdown on your behalf. If you want to use your private foot care benefits to get compression stockings, all insurance providers require a prescription from a medical doctor.

Compression Question? We Can Help!

We’re confident in our ability to help inform you and solve your concern with the least amount of discomfort as possible. Call us even to ask about a quick question and we’d be happy to point you in the right direction!

Call us at 416-769-3338 or Book Your Assessment Today!

How Does My Gait Affect My Life?

How Gait Affects Your Life

The human gait is a fascinating component of the body. Factors including nervous, musculoskeletal, and cardiorespiratory systems all play a role. Specifically, age, personality, footwear, mood, and sociocultural factors all affect the way we move. For these reasons, everyone’s gait is unique in their own way.

According to one study, the prevalence of gait disorders increases to 60% in people over 80 years compared to 10% in people aged 60–69 years. Gait doesn’t just affect the older population. Due to the time spent on our feet, gait affects our every step. Think about how many steps you take a day. It may be 5,000. It may be 10,000. Or even 25,000. Whatever it is, multiply that by your entire lifespan and you have an inconceivable number. That’s the magnificence and resilience of the human body.

What Is Gait?

In scientific terms, human gait refers to locomotion achieved through the movement of human limbs. In simple terms, gait is a person’s manner of walking (or running). One can have a narrow gait or a wide gait. One may overpronate, or supinate. One may have high arches versus fallen arches. As simple as walking or running sound, gait is the result of many complex systems.

To move forward there are several stages of movement: walk, jog, skip, run, and sprint. Foot strike is one variable. These include:

  • Forefoot Strike – toe-heel: ball of foot lands first
  • Midfoot Strike – heel and ball land simultaneously
  • Heel Strike – heel-toe: heel of foot lands, then plantar flexes to ball

The foot strike on the surface is simple. However, again there are external forces including your footwear that may affect how your foot hits the ground. Compare yourself running barefoot versus with shoes. The differences are likely stark.

Another variable is sex. According to a 2013 study, females tend to walk with smaller step width and more pelvic movement.

Gait Analysis

Gait analysis is a tool used to identify biomechanical trends and abnormalities in your foot cycle. Here at Feet First Clinic, we employ 3D video in order to further analyze gait. Video analysis involves being recorded while walking on a treadmill. The video software allows us to slow and stop and zoom in on specific areas during your gait in order to educate you about your foot type and pattern.

Gait Concerns? We Can Help!

We’re confident in our ability to help inform you and solve your concern with the least amount of discomfort as possible. Call us even to ask about a quick question and we’d be happy to point you in the right direction!

Call us at 416-769-3338 or Book Your Assessment Today!