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What is a Bunionette?

Bunions are among the most common sources of foot pain. Bunions are particularly prominent among women, especially those older than 60.

A Bunionette, on the other hand, is less common. When you think about it, a bunionette sounds like a bunion’s younger sibling. And it kind of is.

What Is A Bunionette?

While a bunion is a pronounced bump on the outer edge of the big toe, a bunionette is exactly the opposite. A bunionette is a bump on the outer edge of the little toe.

A bunionette is commonly known as a “tailor’s bunion.” Why? Because tailors used to sit cross-legged. All day. (Apparently, this was done to Tighten Back Muscles so they didn’t wear out as quickly.)

As a result, their feets’ outer edge always made contact with the ground. Over time, the rubbing created a bump on the outside of tailors’ little toes, and further aggravated the foot condition.

And that’s a brief history lesson on a bunionette’s backstory.

The bump may also be a bone spur – a bony outgrowth – caused by osteoarthritis in the fifth metatarsophalangeal joint. The metatarsophalangeal joint is the area between your metatarsal bone (the base of your toe) and your proximal bones (smaller bones close to the head of toe).

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.

People who have mild to medium cases of bunionettes may experience little to no pain. In these cases, one should take the proper precautions to keep the case mild, and not progress any worse. A mild case of a bunionette may be a small bump on the outer edge of the little toe. A severe case may be that your little toe is overlapping your fourth toe.

Since bunionettes are a progressive condition, they will only get worse over time. This means you cannot reverse what’s already been done.

But, don’t worry, there’s still plenty you can do. In fact, the worsening can be slowed significantly, and it’s absolutely possible to maintain a high quality of life without pain. However, because it’s a progressive condition, the only corrective measure to remove the bunion is surgery.

Causes

According to Harvard Medical, bunions and bunionettes can be heredity, due to arthritis, or misalignment of the foot.

The causes of a bunionette are classified as either intrinsic or extrinsic.

Extrinsic causes include:

  • External pressure on the forefoot
  • Tight shoes

Intrinsic causes include:

  • Genetics
  • Foot anatomy
  • Faulty mechanics

Foot function and foot mechanics can also contribute to the formation of Bunions and bunionettes. For instance, overpronation, which is the turning in of your foot towards your arches as you are walking, can lead to bunions and bunionettes.

Bunion vs. Bunionette: What’s The Difference?

Whereas a bunion is a result of a deformity and shift to the first metatarsal, a shift in the fifth metatarsal bone causes a bunionette.

The bump that you see is the metatarsal shifting in alignment as the toe begins to point inwards. As this happens, the base of the metatarsal bone shifts outwards causing the bump that is so often related to foot pain. Because the little toe is smaller than the big toe, a bunionette is considerably smaller than a bunion.

Treatment And Prevention

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 the profile of your feet.

Additionally, stretching your shoe can provide benefits as it artificially provides additional toe room. This allows your bunionette more space in the shoe.

If foot anatomy and pronation appears to be the cause, investing in Custom Foot Orthotics can be beneficial in the long run. If you’re unsure of the root cause, see a foot specialist for a course of action. Additionally, foot specialists can perform a biomechanical assessment to determine whether orthotics are the right approach.

Anti-inflammatories can also help reduce swelling and pain. Furthermore, you can purchase bunionette Splints for relief and to reduce swelling.

As a final resort, and if physical therapy doesn’t work, surgery is an option. Like for a bunion, surgery corrects the joint and bone deformity. This restores the toe to its regular position. Recovery time can be between 6-12 weeks and it’s recommended you explore all other non-invasive options before considering surgery. Note that because the small toe generally absorbs less body weight than your big toe, bunionette surgery recovery time may be less than for a bunion.

Book an appointment with a chiropodist at Feet First Clinic for professional diagnosis and appropriate treatment plan.

Are Flat Feet A Problem?

About 30% of the population live with flat feet.

So there’s a high likelihood that either you or someone in your family have flat feet.

What Are Flat Feet?

Flat feet are as they sound: a collapsed arch with much of your sole in contact with the ground. This is relative to a regular arch, which is when about half of your arch is in contact with the ground.

Good news! Flat feet are usually a painless condition. Often, flat feet occur during childhood development, but they can also occur as you age. Flat foot often starts with a dysfunction of the ankle tendon known as posterior tibial tendon. This tendon is responsible for holding up your arch. Weakness or underdevelopment in the tendon means your arch can drop.

Injury to the ankle can also cause flat feet, partly because damage to the tendons won’t be able to support your arch.

How Can I Tell If I Have Flat Feet?

Flat Feet

The easiest way to determine your foot type is with a wet test.

The wet test is a cheap and easy way to determine your foot type. The test only requires a piece of paper and wetting the bottom of your foot.

To perform the wet test:

  1. Pour a thin layer of water into a shallow pan
  2. Wet the sole of your foot
  3. Step onto a blank piece of paper (or onto a wooded surface like your deck)
  4. Step off and look down

Based on the shape of your foot on the paper, you can determine your foot type. If your arch is partially filled out,  then you have a normal arch. An arch that’s fully filled out means you likely have flat feet and fallen arches. If your arch is barely visible, you likely have a high arch.

Is It A Problem?

In short: it depends. In most instances, it isn’t.

There are generally a few tendencies associated with flat feet.

People with fallen arches generally have more inward rotation than those with a regular arch.

Generally, this gait deficiency will overwork other muscles and tendons in the leg. Overcompensating in your lower leg can cause problems in your knees, ankles, and hips. Fallen arches can also cause pain in your arches and can lead to swelling. Overcompensation can also lead to underlying issues in the foot like bone spurs, osteoarthritis, and bony prominences.

Someone with flat feet may also experience posterior tibial tendonitis. This condition causes pain and swelling in the posterior tibial tendon. As the tendon supports the arch of the foot, and provides stability, leaving this condition untreated may lead to an increased risk of flat feet. Why? Since the resulting tendons become inflamed and damaged, they lose the ability to maintain your arch height.

In many cases, the body adapts to having flat feet and you may never experience pain at all.

One form of fallen arches is known as flexible flat feet. In these cases, you never develop symptoms and the fallen arch is related to the looseness of ligaments and is inherited. In this case, flat feet are not preventable.

How To Live Pain-Free With Fallen Arches

If you’re pain-free, no treatment is necessary.

However, just because you don’t have pain now doesn’t necessarily mean you won’t in the future. Given your body may compensate for fallen arches, the deficiencies in your stride may take years to develop. (On the other hand, the deficiencies may never develop into pain.)

If you do start to experience pain, there a number of measures you can take including:

  • Orthotics: custom foot orthotics are specifically designed for your feet. These devices work to correct faulty foot mechanics and redistribute pressures across the bottom of the foot.
  • Motion Control Footwear: to help with overpronation (when your foot rolls too far inward), motion control footwear has medial support built into the midsole to help limit the damage and wear to the inner portion of your shoe.
  • Lifestyle Changes: an exercise program and a plan to manage your weight can help reduce the pressure on your feet.
  • Stretching Exercisesstretching and lengthening the range of motion of your Achilles tendon can help.

In short, flat feet can pose some problems in certain cases. In many cases, they aren’t a problem, especially if you follow certain precautions like strengthening and orthotics.

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Foot Myths, Debunked And Explained

Our legs are a complex and intricate system of bones, joints, and muscles. Everything is interconnected in some way.

Muscles and joints rely on each other to perform properly, and to provide the necessary foundation for our body. Our habits, genetics, and environment all affect our feet. With so many different possibilities for foot conditions to arise, it’s important to remember that correlation is not causation.

Just because we do one thing, does not necessarily mean it causes another. To help clear the air over a sample of common foot myths, we decided to debunk a few of them below.

1. Flat feet are bad

About 30% of the population lives with flat feet.

Flat feet are defined as a postural deformity in which the arches of the foot collapse. As a result, the entire foot makes contact with the ground. The foot is characterized by a very low arch, and can other foot conditions because of the leg’s compensation.

Flat feet can develop in one foot, or both, depending on your body’s development.

According to Harvard Medical School, even in adulthood, 15% to 25% of people have flexible flatfeet. Most of these people never develop symptoms. For those with what’s called rigid flat feet, several measures can be taken to reduce pain and live comfortably with flat feet. These include:

  • Custom orthotics that artificially raise the arch and provide support
  • Strengthen and stretch your calf as this reduces the pressure and load on your arches
  • Supplement some high-impact exercise with low-impact activities like swimming, cycling, or spinning
  • Anti-inflammatories
  • Wearing slippers or supportive footwear inside instead of walking around barefoot

2. Wearing heels causes all of women’s foot problems

Additionally, a common misconception is that high heels cause bunions. This isn’t true. Heels aggravate bunions but are likely not the cause.

However, excessive heel usage can result in a few common foot conditions: Corns, Hammertoe and Calluses. Additionally, you’re at a greater risk of osteoarthritis since you may lose fat under your foot.

According to WebMD, you can prevent certain foot conditions while continuing to wear heels. Some of these preventative measures include:

  • Get the well-fitted high heel
  • Use silicone metatarsal pads for under your feet
  • Wear a thicker heel for stability
  • Pay attention to the “slope” or “pitch” of the heel
  • Wear open-toe high heels to relieve pressure on corns and calluses

3. A bunion is just a bump

A bunion may look like just a bump. However, that’s another in the list of foot myths. If only it were that simple…

Depending on the cause, your habits may worsen the condition. Maybe you wear shoes with a narrow toebox. Without correction, bunions can get a lot worse over time, turning just a bump into severe pain.

A Bunion, or hallux valgus, is a bony protrusion that forms at the site of the large joint that connects your big toe to your foot.  As you can expect, without addressing the cause of bunions, the toe angle’s alignment can sharpen, causing a larger bump.

It should be noted that bunions can be hereditary, in which case you might be doing everything right. In this instance, continue to practice proper foot habits like:

  • Footwear modification, i.e., avoiding tight shoes with a narrow or stiff toe box.
  • Anti-inflammatory medications
  • Bunion splints
  • Bunion aligner
  • Therapeutic taping
  • Supportive insoles or custom orthotics

You should consult a foot specialist to see whether or not action needs to be taken.

4. Foot pain is the result of getting old

Foot conditions like osteoarthritis are common in older people. Osteoarthritis is a generative joint disease characterized by both a breakdown of cartilage and a build-up of osteophytes.

However, young people are not immune to the foot conditions of the elderly. If you train at a high level and participate in high-impact sports, you may experience osteoarthritis earlier in your life, even in your 20s. Common areas for osteoarthritis include the big toe joint, knees, and hips.

Because osteoarthritis is a degenerative disease, the damage that’s been done is irreversible. The damage to the cartilage between your joints has been done. If this is, in fact, the case, physical therapy is the best course of action. Common treatments include functional improvements – like stretching for a range of motion – and managing symptoms like with rest and ibuprofen.

5. Surgery will fix foot problems

Surgery can help fix certain foot conditions, but non-invasive options may work equally well, if not be more effective.

There are several factors to consider when deciding on foot surgery:

  1. Necessity
  2. Success rate
  3. Cost
  4. Recovery time
  5. Long-term effectiveness

Certain progressive conditions like hallux rigidus, bunions, and a ruptured Achilles may require surgery to correct the inherent problem. However, physical therapy can also improve quality of life. Proper orthotics, avoiding high-impact exercise, proper footwear, and strengthening can help limit pain associated with certain foot conditions.

However, surgery removes the bone portion of the injury. For those with Hallux Rigidus, the Bone Spur contributes to the toe’s stiffness. The range of motion won’t improve without surgery. Although, the worsening of the condition can be slowed with physical therapy as mentioned above.

For those with a Bunion, you’ll want to explore All Non-Invasive Measures before deciding on surgery. If you have explored all options, surgery may be an option. Typically, those who experience significant pain, have severe toe deformities, and have chronic inflammation are the likely candidates for surgery. Bunion surgery (of which there are a few) can include several correct measures:

  • Realigning the metatarsophalangeal (MTP) joint at the base of the big toe.
  • Pain relief.
  • Correcting the deformity of the bones, especially if your big toe is drifting inwards towards your second metatarsal.

If you’re unsure about foot conditions, toenail conditions, or skin conditions, contact us at Feet First Clinic to set up an appointment. You can do that below, or by Contacting Us Here!

Everyday Toe Conditions

It’s all in the toes.

Our toes bear the weight of the body with every step and are the foundation for our movement. The big toe specifically is the final point of contact before each step. In fact, the big toe carries the most weight of all the toes, bearing about 40% of the load.

As a result, many foot injuries and toe conditions stem from, or affect, the big toe.

Maintaining good toe health is crucial for the longevity and long-term health of your feet. There are a number of different foot conditions that can result from toe neglect. Stiff toes, for example, can lead to hallux limitus or hallux rigidus.

Below you’ll find a list of common toe conditions.

Claw Toe

A Claw Toe has an abnormal bend in both the middle joint and the joint closest to the tip of the toe.

Symptoms of claw toe include an upward extension from the joints at the ball of the foot and downward flexion at the middle joints toward the sole of your shoe. Claw toe comes in the shape of a bridge or a hump.

Early on, claw toe resembles a flexible hammertoe (see more below). However, over time, claw toes can stiffen. It’s important to address claw toe early to reverse the deformity.  One such treatment is a splint or tape to hold your toes in the correct position.

Finding shoes that fit correctly is also a key preventative measure. You’ll notice through this article that many toe conditions can be prevented by wearing Proper Footwear. Additionally, you can use your hands to stretch and straighten your toes, and perform exercises including picking up marbles or a towel to strengthen local ligaments and tendons.

Subungual Hematoma

A subungual hematoma is a medical term for a Black Toenail.

A black toenail occurs when the skin below the nail is damaged. Long-distance runners are particularly susceptible to black toenails because of the friction to the top of the foot, as well as the duration of the activity.

Immediately after injuring your toe, you should follow the RICE protocol to reduce the pain and swelling: Rest, Ice, Compress and Elevation. Rest means you should stop doing any physical activity. Wrap a clean bandage around the toe to stem the blood. Put a bag of ice or a cold compress on the covered injury. Then lie down and elevate your foot by resting it on a pillow.

Turf Toe

Turf toe is a sprain of the big toe joint resulting from injury during sports activities.

This acute injury typically occurs from jamming the toe. Turf toe includes pain, swelling and limited joint movement. Following the RICE protocol – rest, ice, compression, and elevation – is beneficial. Additionally, wear stiff footwear to keep the toe at a neutral angle and isolated while walking.

The biggest concern here is either not addressing the injury, or rushing back to activity too quickly. Without the proper treatment, turf toe can turn into hallux limitus.

Hallux Rigidus

Hallux Rigidus
Osteophyte (bone spur) on top of the left first metatarsophalangeal joint (MTPJ) due to hallux rigidus.

Translated to a stiff big toe, hallux rigidus is a progressive condition that stems from osteoarthritis in the big toe. It causes pain and stiffness in the joint and over time, the toe loses flexibility.

As the cartilage at the first metatarsophalangeal joint (MTP) breaks down, the metatarsal bones and the proximal bones rub together. This friction, as well as the body’s response to fill the void left by osteoarthritis results in the formation of a bone spur.

In this case, it’s important to recognize the early signs of hallux rigidus, including at its previous stage hallux limits. Work on improving the range of motion in the toes and invest in custom-made orthotics or footwear with a rocker to reduce the pressure and bend of the big toe.

Hammertoe

Hammertoe is a progressive toe condition that worsens if left untreated. In short, hammertoe is a toe deformity of one or both joints of the second, third, fourth or fifth (little) toes. You’ll see one of the toes shift and cross over another toe.

Hammertoe occurs when you wear ill-fitting shoes. Specifically, footwear that is far too small for your feet. The lack of space deforms your toes and can cause a shift in the tendons and ligaments. Fortunately, addressing the cause quickly can be extremely effective.

Treatment includes:

  • Corn pads
  • Stretching and strengthening your toe and toe and foot muscles
  • Roomier footwear
  • Custom orthotics that help reposition and take the pressure off of your toes
  • Surgery

Left untreated, hammertoe can worsen and require surgery. If your toes appear bent or you are experiencing toe mobility, visit one of our licensed chiropodists (foot specialists) as soon as it’s safe to do so.

Drop-in shoe fitting for hammertoe is also offered.

Gout

Illustration of foot with close up of build up of uric acid in joint of the big toe

Gout is a common and complex form of arthritis that often begins in the big toe.

It’s often known as the “disease of kings” or “rich man’s disease” because it’s prevalent in older men, as well as those who eat meat or seafood, drink beer, or are overweight.

It’s characterized by sudden, severe attacks of pain, swelling, redness and tenderness in the joints. Gout looks like a swollen bunion on the outside of the big toe.

To help prevent gout, you can follow these preventative measures:

  • Drink plenty of fluids
  • Limit or avoid alcohol
  • Get your protein from low-fat dairy products
  • Limit your intake of meat, fish and poultry
  • Maintain desirable body weight

Remember, our bodies begin at our feet. Take proper care through the various methods mentioned in this article to prevent toe conditions from occurring.

Protecting Your Body on the Hockey Rink

Hockey is the number one sport in Canada and this winter sport has been enjoyed around the world as well for over 100 years!

Not only is hockey extremely fun to play, but it’s also an excellent form of cardiovascular exercise and vigorously works your lower body. Playing hockey increases your heart rate, which improves your body’s ability to build muscle and burn calories.

Hockey is also beneficial for your mental health — getting vigorous amounts of exercise releases endorphins. This puts you in a better mood and gives you additional energy. Playing hockey can also keep your brain sharp; this is because it can help improve your problem solving and decision-making skills.

However, athletes should know that playing hockey comes with its fair share of risks. Hockey is one of the more aggressive sports —players can potentially experience concussions, lose teeth and break bones.

Hockey players are also prone to several foot and ankle related injuries. One of the most common hockey injuries is known as lace bite (also occasionally referred to as skate bite), which occurs when you tie your laces too tight.

Lace bite causes players to experience:

  • Ankle pain
  • Redness
  • Swelling

Some hockey players may experience less-common issues like sprained ankles, fractured bones or peroneal tendonitis (a chronic form of tendonitis caused by excessive overuse).

We know that a few potential injuries won’t stop hockey players from doing what they love; that’s why our team at Feet First Clinic has put together this list of safety tips.

For those that aren’t familiar with our work, Feet First Clinic is a foot clinic in Toronto that offers a diverse variety of foot and ankle-related services.

Aside from offering unique services, like shoe stretching and measuring, our team of foot specialists also offers an assortment of foot and ankle products, like custom-made orthotics. These products can help you deal with current injuries and prevent future incidences from occurring.

Are you looking for effective ways to keep your body safe while playing hockey? Feel free to continue reading!

Always Wear a Helmet

Practically every hockey league (both professional and recreational) require players to wear a helmet. This requirement, which was put in place in 1979, is essential for several reasons.

As mentioned earlier, hockey players are prone to head injuries, like concussions. Studies show that concussions account for approximately 2% to 14% of all hockey injuries. Additionally, concussions account for about 15% to 30% of all hockey-related head trauma.

Although concussions are occasionally unavoidable, wearing a high-quality helmet can drastically decrease your risk of experiencing head trauma.

So, why are modern helmets so effective? First of all, modern hockey helmets are made out of high-quality materials like vinyl nitrile and expanded polypropylene foam. These materials are made to disperse and absorb large amounts of impact.

Additionally, modern hockey helmets are form-fitting; they are designed to cup and protect the orbital protuberance (the back of your head).

Are you looking to protect more than just your head? Then you may want to consider buying a helmet with a visor and/or ear guards. These helmets are made to protect the remainder of your face from stray pucks, sticks and skates.

Wear Skates That Have the Right “Fit”

Having the right pair of skates is integral, especially if you want to perform at the best of your ability.

Are you new to the sport? Then you may not know that buying a pair of skates is quite different from picking out a pair of shoes.

Here are several key differences that you need to keep in mind:

Size

The first thing you need to consider is the size. While looking for new skates, you need to remember that hockey skates have a different sizing system than traditional walking shoes. You should generally look for hockey skates that are one to one and a half sizes smaller than your everyday footwear.

Are you buying skates for your child? Then you may want to get a pair that has a little bit of wiggle room. This way, if your child has a growth spurt, you won’t have to replace their skates instantly.

Tightness

While playing hockey, athletes want their ankles to feel stable and secure. Wearing loose-fitting skates strains your ankles and can increase the risk of sprained or broken bones.

Before hitting the ice, make sure that neither of your laces are untied. This will not only help you feel secure, but it will also lower the chances of you accidentally tripping.

For extra security, you may want to wear a pair of thick socks. This will help keep your feet warm and fill in any additional space in the skates.

Heel Movement

Can you lift or shift your heels in your current pair of skates?

When your skates fit properly, you shouldn’t be able to move your heels at all. Instead, they should feel snug and continuously in one position.

Wearing skates that don’t fit properly can cause your heels to shift in place. This can make your skin feel rough and potentially lead to painful blisters on the sides of your feet.

If you’ve noticed that your skates are impacting your heels, you should consider getting over the counter insoles like Superfeet.

Superfeet is an over-the-counter insole company that offers a wide range of products. Each product is made to benefit the wearer in specific situations.

For instance, hockey players can benefit from wearing a pair of Superfeet’s yellow insoles. Superfeet’s yellow insoles are designed to fit perfectly in hockey skates. These hockey skate insoles also feature a flexible heel cradle, which is designed to keep your heels in one place at all times.

Stay Hydrated

During the sweltering summer heat, athletes are constantly reminded to drink as much water as possible — however, if you’re playing sports in the winter, like hockey, you still need to drink a sufficient amount of fluids.

Drinking water is incredibly beneficial for athletes, as staying hydrated can:

  • Improve your joint and muscle health
  • Regulate your body temperature
  • Prevent and lessen the severity of muscle cramps

Failing to drink enough water can lead to dehydration; this happens when your body uses more fluids than it’s receiving. When this happens, your body slowly begins to shut down, and in some severe cases, dehydration can lead to short-term hospitalization.

It can be challenging to pinpoint exactly when you (or one of your teammates) are feeling dehydrated, as other common issues share many of the symptoms.

If you don’t know what to look for, then keep an eye out for the following signs:

  • Dizzy/light-headed feeling
  • Dry mouth
  • Upset stomach
  • Elevated heart rate

To be safe, you should aim to drink at least 8 oz of water before playing. During the game, you should try to consume anywhere from 7 oz to 10 oz. Finally, you should have no less than 8 oz of water after the game is finished. This may seem like a lot of fluid, but your body will appreciate it.

Wear Compression Stockings

These garments are designed to apply therapeutic pressure to your feet and ankles.

Wearing compression stockings can help improve the circulation in your lower body and decreases fluid retention. Fluid retention (also referred to as water retention and edema) generally stems from prolonged periods of sitting and/or standing. This condition causes extremities, likes your feet, to swell up and feel uncomfortable.

Additionally, compression stockings are a cost-effective tool for reducing and managing blood clots. After experiencing a blood clot, some patients are advised to wear compression stockings for as long as two years.

So, why are compression stockings so vital for hockey players? In short, compression stockings can improve your athletic performance. This is because compression stockings can:

  • Increase your endurance
  • Minimize muscle strain
  • Improve your balance and stability
  • Lower the risk of shins splits and other forms of soft tissue damage

Additionally, if you wear compression stockings while doing your daily feet exercises, you can drastically decrease your recovery time (for lower-body injuries) — this means you can spend less time on the couch and more time on the ice.

If you’re a female hockey player, you most likely want something that fits your body. That’s why many companies produce compression stockings for women as well as men. This makes them an accessible tool for both genders.

With all of this in mind, it’s clear why athletes should always wear a pair of compression stockings underneath their uniforms.

Whether you’re a professional hockey player or just want to have some fun with your friends, there’s no denying that hockey is an exhilarating sport. It’s social, competitive and is the ideal winter activity. However, hockey is also a dangerous sport, and if you’re not paying attention, you can easily injure yourself.

If you don’t want this to happen to you, then you should make sure that you always wear a helmet and have the right pair of skates. You should also drink lots of fluids and purchase a pair of compression stockings.

Heel Spurs: What Should I Do?

What is a Heel Spur?

The human body is a complex and magnificent system that adapts and learns, continuously finding ways to build and strengthen itself through its experiences. One example of this is our bones’ response to stress.
Soft tissues such as ligaments and tendons insert themselves into bones; ligaments connect bone to bone while tendons connect muscle to bone. When the area of insertion undergoes injury or inflammation from stress or strain of these soft tissues, the bone may respond by depositing new bone on existing bone. This is the bone’s way of fortifying itself.

A heel spur is just that. It is a bony protrusion or growth from the underside of the heel bone that forms over time due to repetitive muscular and ligament strain from activities such as walking, running, and jumping.

Contrary to popular belief, a heel spur is simply the reaction to the problem at hand, and not necessarily the cause of your pain. In fact, most heel spurs are asymptomatic.
It is often associated with a condition known as plantar fasciitis, which is the inflammation of the fibrous tissue that connects the heel bone to the ball of the foot.

Rather than the heel spur itself being the culprit, more often than not, it is the associated soft tissue injury such as plantar fasciitis that causes sharp pain at the heel with the first steps in the morning or with initial steps after rest. Some report the pain turns into a dull ache and comes back with increased activity throughout the day.

Am I at Risk?

You can increase your risk of developing a heel spur and associated heel pain due to soft tissue injury by:

  • wearing unsupported shoes
  • not addressing current foot issues
  • abnormal gait
  • poor foot posture
  • increased time on your feet
  • vigorous sports or activities
  • weight

All these factors put high stress and strain on the soft tissues of your feet, specifically the plantar fascia.

How do I Manage the Pain?

Heel spurs are managed by rest, exercise, custom foot orthotics, supportive footwear, a night splint, over-the-counter medications such as ibuprofen, and/or cortisone injections.

Rest and exercise are both highly recommended when dealing with a heel spur and associated soft tissue strains. Stretching the muscles and tendons of the foot will reduce tension and resistance training will help to strengthen them.

Calf stretches against the wall and/or on a step are particularly helpful. Remember to hold your stretch for 15-30 seconds. Repeat the exercise 10 times on each leg and do this set a couple times throughout the day to get the best results.
Look for shoes that have a cushioned sole with arch support rather than a shoe that is completely flat.

A good shoe will also have good torsional stability, a firm heel counter, and a roomy toe box. In addition, for indoor shoes, opt for sandals or slippers with a cork foot bed that has arch support and straps around the forefoot, midfoot, and ankle.
Wearing a night splint while you sleep may also help to keep the plantar fascia elongate and therefore deplete tension.
around the forefoot, midfoot, and ankle. Wearing a night splint while you sleep may also help to keep the plantar fascia elongated and therefore deplete tension.

Talk to your local chiropodist for advice on custom foot orthotics. A custom insole will support your foot in all the right places and correct any harmful compensations or abnormal gait patterns. Furthermore, a heel pad may be added to provide additional cushioning or a horseshoe pad to offload a specific localized area of pain on the heel.

blog-20200221-heel-spurs-02

If you are in an immense amount of pain, resulting in limitations to your mobility, talk to a Toronto foot specialist about cortisone injections, which may provide temporary, but effective relief. You can get up to three cortisone shots per year.
If conservative measures fail to relieve your pain within a year, surgery to either release the plantar fascia or remove the bone spur may be indicated to restore quality of life.

What Happens if it’s Not Treated?

Unfortunately, a heel spur or any bone spur for that matter is permanent and cannot be removed without surgery. However, the pain associated with a heel spur will likely worsen and become chronic if you do not seek treatment to address the soft tissue injury.
This can lead to changes in your gait to accommodate and compensate for the pain, resulting in a limping gait and secondary injuries to the hip and knee joints. If you avoid walking or activity all together, the chances of weight gain are high. On the other hand, most of individuals with heel pain will experience resolution when treated using conservative methods.

When Should I See a Foot Specialist?

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Any kind of foot pain is a valid reason to see a general physician, licensed chiropodist, or podiatrist for a consultation.

Chiropodists or podiatrists are primary health care professionals who specialize in the assessment, management, and prevention of dysfunctions, disorders, and diseases of the foot. The sooner you see an appropriate health care practitioner for heel pain or a heel spur, the sooner you will experience relief of your pain.

What Can I do to Prevent Spurs?

To help prevent heel spurs you can reduce injury to the heel bone by wearing supportive footwear. Always remember to stretch before and after sport activity, and gradually increase your level of activity rather than engaging in too much activity too quickly.

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Pay attention to the shape and movement of your feet to detect any anomalies with your gait pattern, and avoid long periods of standing.
You can also increase flexibility in your calf and plantar fascia with daily stretches, avoid walking barefoot on hard surfaces, and maintain a healthy body weight.

How Can I be Sure it’s a Heel Spur?

A bone spur can only be definitively diagnosed with diagnostic imaging such as, x-ray or ultrasound. If you have a very localized area of pain on your heel(s) and experience pain with your first steps in the morning, talk to your doctor about these tests to determine if you have a bone spur or not.

For a full foot assessment and treatment for heel pain, book an appointment with one of our Toronto Licensed Chiropodists at Feet First Clinic.

 

Frequently Asked Questions About Custom Made Orthotics

Have you been experiencing foot pain that just doesn’t seem to go away? Perhaps your pain is worse with your first steps in the morning or your initial steps after rest. Or maybe your feet are sore after standing all day at work. If this sounds like you, your feet may be suffering from faulty gait patterns or structural deformities that may benefit from custom foot orthotics.

Continue reading to find out everything there is to know about orthotics as we address the internet’s most asked questions regarding this medical device.

What are orthotics?

A line of different orthotics on a wooden surface

A custom foot orthotic is a device derived from a three-dimensional representation of a person’s foot and also made of suitable materials with regard to the individual’s condition. It is made specifically to address structural or functional foot conditions that lead to faulty foot mechanics and abnormal gait patterns by providing support, stability, and balance. It is a removable device that can be transferred between shoes.

A licensed chiropodist or podiatrist is the health care practitioner to see for a pair of custom foot orthotics. The appointment will include a full biomechanical assessment and gait analysis to determine a diagnosis and therefore, the cause of your symptoms. The foot specialist will also take a 3-dimensional mould of your feet using plaster of paris or a laser scanner.

A custom-made insole works to realign the foot to eventually relieve your pain. This takes time and does not happen immediately. In fact, it can take several months for your pain to completely subside, but you should feel a gradual decrease within the first month or so.

How do I know I need them?

Woman rubbing her foot in pain

Your signs and symptoms are good clues. Pain at the heel, arch, ball of the foot, top of the foot, shin, ankle, knee, hip, low back, poor foot posture (ie flat feet), gait anomalies, and foot fatigue, are all valid reasons to have your feet checked by a professional. A foot orthotic is recommended when muscles, tendons, ligaments, joints, or bones are not in an optimal functional position and are the cause of pain, discomfort, and fatigue.

If you are experiencing any of the signs and symptoms listed above, it is best to consult with a foot care specialist. A chiropodist or podiatrist will be able to tell you whether or not he or she recommends custom foot orthotics for your particular care.

What is an orthotic shoe?

An orthopedic shoe is designed with certain characteristics that make them different from everyday footwear. For instance, the shoe may have a firm heel counter, deep toe box, shock absorbing sole, stable sole, increased torsional stability, built in arch support, and come in a variety of widths to accommodate a wider foot. Orthopedics shoes work to support the foot’s structure and mechanics by reducing abnormal foot function, accommodating foot deformities, and enhancing the effectiveness of orthotic insoles.

Just as in the case of custom foot orthotics, a prescription for orthopedic footwear requires an appointment with a licensed chiropodist or podiatrist. The prescription will be based on a review of medical history, a full biomechanical assessment and gait analysis, and consideration of occupational, lifestyle, and environmental factors.

In addition, only certain manufacturers make acceptable true orthopedic shoes. Some brands of orthopedic footwear include Aetrex, Apex, Anodyne, Portofino, Asics. Though they have a stigma of being unappealing, you can find fashionable orthopedic shoes from most of these brands.

How long do and how often do I have to wear orthotic insoles?

Feet on a pair of orthotics

If your orthotics were prescribed to you because of some sort of pain, whether at your feet, knees, hip, or low back, you should be wearing them on a day to day basis until your pain subsides, that is if you experience pain daily. It is even recommended to wear them indoors. However, once the pain subsides, it is important to work on strengthening your feet as well as addressing any tightness in the lower limb and back to help manage your condition. Doing this will reduce the need for orthotics, although for the most part, they will still be needed to a certain degree.

Initially, when orthotics are prescribed and dispensed, they should be gradually incorporated into your daily regime as they are working to realign the foot to eventually relieve your pain. It is important to adhere to the break in schedule advised by your chiropodist to help your body slowly adjust to the new device. Most practitioners will recommend wearing the insoles for one hour the first day, two hours the next, three hours the third day and so on.

On average, it takes approximately a month to become fully accustomed to a new pair of custom orthotic insoles and feel comfortable wearing them all day long.

How do I know if my orthotics are working?

The easiest way to know if your orthotics are working is an alleviation of your symptoms.

What are the risks of using/wearing orthotics?

If made and prescribed correctly, orthotics will benefit you, not harm you. When worn for the first time, they may feel uncomfortable, like you are walking on a hard ball with most of the pressure felt at the arches, but this is normal. If you adhere to the break in schedule, your body will ease into the new foot posture in a relatively short period of time.

How expensive is it?

You will need to book a consultation with a foot specialist for a full biomechanical assessment and gait analysis before being prescribed and dispensed custom orthotics. At the end of this appointment, your foot specialist will determine if your particular condition and concerns can be managed and corrected by the devices. The price for custom foot orthotics differs between clinics, averaging approximately $500 per pair. The consultation fee is usually around $85-120.

If you have extended health benefits, you may have coverage for these kinds of devices as well as the consultation. Finally, you can always talk to your foot specialist about less expensive alternatives, such as over-the-counter insoles like Superfeet.

If you have foot concerns that you think may require custom foot orthotics, book an appointment with one of our licensed chiropodists at Feet First Clinic. We are located in Downtown Toronto at Jane and Bloor.

Call today!

3 Signs That Your Running Shoes Don’t Fit

It’s common knowledge that you stop growing after you reach a certain age. This would lead one to believe that their footwear will fit forever. Sadly, this is wishful thinking. Over time, your shoes are prone to stretching and shrinking.

As an example, if you wear the same pair of shoes every time you work out, they will gradually lose their shape and eventually feel looser. Additionally, people in hot climates have reported that their shoes are shrinking from over-exposure to the sun.

At Feet First Clinic, we know that wearing ill-fitting footwear can lead to severe consequences — for those that aren’t familiar with us, we’re a team of experienced foot specialists that offer specialized foot care services and products.

If you need to book an appointment with the best chiropodist in Toronto, you should get in contact with one of our fantastic team members.

Before you throw on your running shoes, make sure you keep an eye out for the following signs:

You Can’t Slide Your Shoes Off Easily

Woman sliding off shoe

In some sports, like hockey, players are encouraged to tie their laces as tightly as possible. Tightly tied skates can prevent issues like rolled and sprained ankles.

However, this isn’t necessarily the case with running shoes. If your footwear is the ideal size, you should be able to slide them on and off without undoing the laces.

If you can’t do this, you’re either tightening your laces too much or wearing ill-fitting footwear. Thankfully, you don’t have to throw out your favourite pairs of shoes; we offer reliable shoe stretching services that can help you get the optimal fit

Your Toes Touch the Inside of Your Sneaker

Toes touching the top of tiny shoes

Are your feet swollen and sore after a long day of work? This may be because your toes are touching the inside layer of your sneakers.

If your toes rub against the inside of your sneakers, you can potentially bruise your nails or get a hammer toe.

To ensure that your shoes aren’t too tight, you need to make sure that there’s at least a thumb’s worth of space between your toes and the inside layer of your sneakers.

Your Heel Moves Around While Walking

Kids wearing high heels that are too big

Whether you’re walking around the block or through a snowy trail, the last thing you want is heel pain.

Unfortunately, if you wear footwear that’s too loose, you’re in for a lot of pain and discomfort. If your shoes are too loose, your heel has more room to move around and rub up against your footwear. This causes additional friction, which can be extremely uncomfortable.

Does this happen to you? The simplest way is to deal with this issue is by tying your shoelaces correctly.

If you want to go the extra mile, feel free to try insoles for extra cushioning — this will minimize the amount of wiggle room in your footwear and keep your heel snuggly in place.

You should never rely on over-the-counter insoles. These items are nowhere near as comfortable or effective as our customized orthotic insoles.

Before you slide on the shoes that you’ve had for far too long, you should take a look for the signs mentioned above. This will ensure that you don’t harm your feet in the (not so distant) future.

Getting Your Feet Vacation-Ready

Anyone who lives in the city of Toronto is familiar with cold, winter weather.

All of the slush, ice and snow can put a damper on your mood, especially if you suffer from phycological conditions like seasonal affective disorder (often shortened to SAD).

To combat their winter blues, several Torontonians will pack their suitcases and take a trip to a tropical country.

However, if you’re going somewhere exotic, there’s one essential thing that you need to do beforehand: get your feet vacation-ready.

If you don’t take the time to beautify your feet, you might feel less comfortable walking around in sandals or flip-flops. Instead of wearing closed-toed shoes to the beach, you should use the list of practical tips that our team at Feet First Clinic has put together.

Our team is made up of a group of experienced and knowledgeable foot specialists in Toronto — we provide high-quality foot care services and products, like customized orthotic inserts.

Continue reading to learn how you can beautify your feet before your next tropical vacation.

Exfoliate and Moisturize

Woman exfoliating her foot with a pumice

Do you want your feet to look youthful and attractive?

The first thing you need to do is exfoliate and moisturize them.

To exfoliate your feet, you’ll want to find a pumice stone or foot scrubber. You can use these tools to remove dry, dead skin from your feet.

Once you’ve removed all of the excess skin from your feet, it’s time to moisturize them. Moisturizing your feet will keep them feeling soft and touchable for your entire vacation.

You should try to avoid getting moisturizer in between your toes — this can encourage fungi to grow. If you have a case of toe fungus, you should book an appointment with a licensed chiropodist in Toronto before you depart on your trip.

Tend to Your Nails

Woman receiving laser treatment on her feet for the treatment of a mild fungal infection in the toenails

When you’re on a tropical vacation, looking down at cracked toenails can ruin your mood and make you want to hide your feet in the sand!

Damaged toenails can also lead to several different types of foot fungus.

These fungi can affect the appearance of your nails and make them:

  • Brittle
  • Discoloured
  • Have an unpleasant odour

Additionally, if you have an untreated ingrown toenail, you need to make an appointment with us before you go. If left untreated for too long, ingrown toenails can result in harmful (and avoidable) conditions like bone infections and even ulcers!

Thankfully, if you contact one of our foot specialists before you go, we can remove your ingrown toenail in no time.

Paint Your Nails

Woman painting her toenails

Once you’ve dealt with any nail-related conditions, you’re free to paint your nails! This is something both men and women can do (a coat of clear nail polish goes a long way, guys).

Not only will this make your feet look better, but it can also give you an enormous confidence boost!

Whether you’re crossing a single border or an entire ocean, you need to make sure that your feet are vacation-ready before you go.

Running on a Treadmill Doesn’t Have to Hurt

Running is a simple and satisfying way to stay in shape. It gives you a physical and mental rush that you can’t obtain through any other activity.

During the frigid winter months, many runners in Toronto can’t stand the idea of subjecting themselves to the cold outdoor temperatures.

That’s why several runners trade in their favourite trails for treadmills during the winter; these fantastic pieces of equipment are ideal for people that want to run for an extended period without going outside.

However, some runners find that their bodies (particularly their feet) hurt after running on a treadmill. Instead of living with this pain, you should use the list of tips and tricks that our team at Feet First Clinic has put together.

If you’re not familiar with our work, we’re a team of experienced chiropodists that offer a wide variety of foot pain treatment services and products.

Continue reading to learn how you can reduce the amount of physical pain you feel while running on your treadmill.

Don’t Over-Use Your Body

If you work a full-time job, you probably don’t have as much time to run as you’d like. Because of this, you most likely try to get as much out of each run as possible.

Although you may think this is a good thing, it’s counterproductive.

If you put too much strain on your body, you may end up developing ankle tendonitis (also referred to as peroneal tendonitis). Tendonitis can affect several other body parts including your:

  • Elbows
  • Knees
  • Shoulders

The symptoms of tendonitis can range from minor swelling to severe pain. If you don’t take care of your tendonitis, it can potentially grow into a chronic condition (which means that you’ll have to deal with it for a lengthier period).

If you have tendonitis or want to learn more about how you can prevent it, then you need to book an appointment with the best Toronto foot clinic.

Analyze Your Gait 

The way that you walk or run has a significant impact on your body. If you don’t move correctly, you can end up slowly damaging your body over time. This will make it more challenging to walk or run in the future.

If you want to make sure that you’re walking and running on your treadmill correctly, you should book a video gait analysis appoint at our Toronto foot care clinic.

For those that don’t know, gait is the scientific term for how a person walks. Your gait can be affected by numerous things, including:

  • Genetic makeup
  • Previous/current health conditions
  • Physical abnormalities
  • Foot, leg or pelvic injuries

By getting your gait analyzed, we’ll be able to recommend the ideal foot care treatments for you. If necessary, we can also design and produce customized orthotic insoles during the same appointment.

High-quality orthotic insoles can make running on a treadmill less painful and more productive.

Before you step on another treadmill, make sure that you keep the tips mentioned above in mind.