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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!

Do You Need Insoles or Orthopaedic Shoes? 

Do You Need Insoles or Orthopaedic Shoes? 

If you have been experiencing foot pain, discomfort, or have been diagnosed with a disease that put your feet at risk, you have probably heard of orthotics and orthopaedic shoes and may be left with the following questions: 

  • What is the difference between the two? 
  • Which one is better for me and my foot concerns?
  • What properties should I look for to accommodate my lifestyle?

In today’s blog, we will tackle these questions to help provide a better understanding of these devices, and ultimately help you make the right, healthy choices for your feet.

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What is an Orthotic Insole?

An orthotic insole is an insert that is placed inside a shoe to address various foot concerns. There are two major kinds of insoles: custom foot orthotics and over the counter insoles. 

Benefits of Custom Orthotic Insoles

A custom foot orthotic is classified as a medical device made from a three-dimensional mould of an individual’s foot. Therefore, it is unique to one’s specific foot and tailored to meet one’s foot needs. These devices are prescribed by a physician or a foot specialist, such as a Registered Chiropodist or podiatrist and will contain specific prescriptive elements based on the practitioner’s physical assessment. Custom foot orthotics address faulty foot mechanics and other foot ailments that cause pain such as, plantar fasciitis, painful calluses and corns, shin splints, tendonitis, diabetic feet, and ulcers. They are made to mechanically control, support, redistribute pressures, and balance the foot to improve function. They are also made from high-quality materials and will generally last 2-3 years if used properly. 

Look into your insurance plan as some plans cover a percentage of custom foot orthotics when prescribed and assessed by a recognized health care practitioner.

An over the counter insole is a shoe insert that you can find in the shelves of your local pharmacy or retail sports store. Compared to a custom orthotic, these devices are much less costly; however, they will not address or correct improper foot function and more serious foot problems. The purpose of over the counter shoe inserts/insoles/arch supports is to provide additional cushioning, support, and increase general comfort for the foot. 

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What is an Orthopaedic Shoe?

An orthopaedic shoe is a shoe made with properties a normal shoe would not typically have. These types of shoes are made to accommodate foot abnormalities or foot deformities, improve biomechanical foot function, as well as enhance the effectiveness of custom foot orthotics. 

Benefits of Orthopaedic Shoes

Orthopaedic shoes are for those who are suffering from bunions, hammertoes, heel spurs, plantar fasciitis, diabetes, arthritis, flat feet, swollen feet caused by venous insufficiency/lymphedema, or recovering from foot surgery. This type of footwear is made with characteristics that a normal shoe would not normally have. These may include but are not limited to:

  • Extra-wide and deep toe box to accommodate and make room for bony toe deformities 
  • Firm heel counter to control and support the heel as well as prevent irritation to the Achilles tendon
  • Deep heel cup to control and stabilize the heel for better alignment 
  • Shock-absorbing sole to dissipate ground reaction forces and reduce stresses on joints and soft tissues of the body 
  • Stability sole and good torsional stability to help control faulty foot mechanics such as overpronation (rolling in of the foot towards its arches) and stabilize the foot
  • Rocker bottom sole to promote a smooth and efficient heel to toe gait by inhibiting painful joint motion such as those seen in conditions like hallux limitus or hallux rigidus 
  • Easy to fasten (eg velcro straps) for those who suffer from conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis and have difficulty using their hands 
  • Seamless design to prevent irritation and pressure points which may not be detected in an individual with diabetic neuropathy 
  • Removable liner to adequately accommodate a custom foot orthotic

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How to Choose an Orthotic Insole Based on Your Lifestyle

We are fortunate enough to live in a time when orthotic insoles come in a wide array of shapes and sizes to accommodate different lifestyles and footwear. The following are general guidelines to keep in mind when looking for insoles for specific lifestyle choices.*

Athletic 

  • Good shock absorption
  • Good cushioning if the footwear allows room for this
  • Semi-rigid to semi-flexible shell depending on what the individual can tolerate 
  • Top cover (the material that comes in direct contact with the foot) should have low friction and good breathability qualities 

Career-Oriented

  • Dress shoe orthotics
  • Thin and narrow device to fit into a lower volume shoe 
  • 3/4 length  

Retired Life 

  • Good cushioning properties in particular at the ball of the foot and heel
  • Full length 
  • Supportive 
  • Semi-flexible to flexible shell 

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*If you are experiencing foot pain and continuous foot discomfort it is in your best interest to book an appointment for a consultation from a licensed health care practitioner. Chiropodists are foot care specialists who are professionally trained to assess the biomechanics of the lower extremity. At your appointment, a full medical history will be taken and a biomechanical assessment and gait analysis performed to determine the right foot care devices for your needs.

We’ve Got You Covered! 

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!

Featured Birkenstocks For Summer

It’s summer. Or as some people call it, Birkenstocks season.

Birkenstocks are a German shoe manufacturer known for its sandals. Notably, Birkenstocks consist of cork and rubber and conform to the shape of the foot. For this reason, each pair is unique to its owner.

These are fantastic summer shoes for a few reasons:

  1. Birkenstocks’ cork bottoms conform to your feet over time
  2. Birkenstocks are supportive, and include features like:
    • Arch support
    • A deep heel cup
    • Raised toe bar;
    • And ample of toe room
  3. They’re a great alternative to non-supportive flip flops
  4. Birkenstocks are affordable

The footbed – the most important component of the sandal – comprises four parts. The first layer is the shock-absorbing sole. The second is a layer of jute fibres, a firm corked footbed, another layer of jute fibres, and soft suede.

The German brand manufactures several different models. But, all include the same notable Birkenstock features. The differences lie in the material, strap design, and the number of straps.

Arizona

Birkenstocks

The Arizona is Birkenstock’s most iconic look.

The often imitated, never duplicated, category-defining, two-strap wonder from Birkenstock. A comfort legend and a fashion staple. With adjustable straps and a cork footbed that conforms to the shape of your foot, the Arizona is a no-brainer for your collection.

Arizona EVA

Birkenstocks

Like the Arizona, the Arizona EVA is the waterproof, lightweight version of the shoe. Exact same design, but with EVA, a type of very light, elastic material with very good cushioning. This type of cushioning is particularly useful on uneven surfaces, making it a versatile choice for by the water, or at the gym.

Compared to the Arizona, the Arizona EVA is a tad more casual and versatile. Plus, it comes at a lower price point than the Arizona. But, you don’t get the corked footbed. For this reason, having both would mean you’re set for all summer conditions.

Madrid

Birkenstock Madrid

Named after the ancient Spanish city, the Birkenstock Madrid is the brand’s oldest line.

The Madrid was originally launched as a “gymnastics sandal” half a century ago due to its simplistic design. The single strap model is great for casual wear, and for around the house when you’re slipping in and out of your sandals often.

Gizeh

Birkenstocks

The Gizeh is a minimalist approach to a sandal. With a single strap across and a single strap down the centre of the shoe to the toes, the Gizeh is an iconic classic. The Gizeh features classic Birkenstock support and is the original thong sandal, with support between the big toe and the second toe.

Mayari

Birkenstock Mayari

The Birkenstock Mayari is a thong sandal with a toe loop. The Mayari is fashionable and suitable for formal occasions. Plus the two loops both have customizable straps for small tweaks in fit to ensure the Birkenstock fits like a glove.

Boston

Birkenstocks

The Birkenstock Boston is true to its name – a year-round sandal for cold and hot conditions. The unique look includes the same corked footbed, but with a covered toe. The upper is suede and hugs the foot like a second skin providing support across the toe box.

Milano

Summer Birkenstocks

The most supportive Birkenstock – in the sense of straps and heel support – is the Milano.

This three strapped Birkenstock sandal includes two straps over the top of the foot, plus a third around the back of the Achilles heel. The extra strap adds security and improved fit. All around, these features make the shoe a great fit.

In fact, thanks to ample support, the Milano is great for an active lifestyle including longer walks.

Where To Buy Birkenstocks

We have a full selection of the latest Birkenstocks in the clinic. While you’re here, receive a free shoe fitting to find the perfect size footwear.

Don’t spend another day without a pair of Birkenstocks. Treat your feet and visit us in person at 2481 Bloor Street West.

How Your Job Affects Your Feet

The average person will spend 90,000 hours at work over a lifetime. To put that into perspective, that’s more than 10 cumulative years in equivalent time.

In fact, you may spend more time at work or on the job than at any other aspect of your life (with the exception of sleeping).

With such great time spent working, your job can have a huge impact on your feet, and quality of life. It’s not only the type of work but also the shoes you wear. Whether it’s a formal environment, or whether you wear steel-toed boots in a blue-collar industry, your job affects your feet and can have a major bearing on your body (and vice versa).

Different Careers = Different Foot Needs

Take a moment and think about your situation. Do you stand all day at work? Teachers, cooks, chefs, barbers, hairdressers, cashiers, manufacturing employees, and construction works all spend hours on their feet at a time. Meanwhile, other places of work may have certain dress codes. You may be required to wear formal attire including high heels and dress shoes.

What you wear has a great impact on you.

For example, standing all day in your job can expose you to the following foot conditions:

  • Varicose veins
  • Plantar fasciitis
  • Lower back pain
  • Soreness and fatigue
  • High blood pressure
  • Knee or hip arthritis
  • Bunions
  • Pregnancy complications
  • Neck and shoulder stiffness
  • Chronic heart and circulatory disorders
  • Poor posture (and its effects)
  • Various foot problems and pain
  • Knee problems
  • Swollen or painful feet or legs
  • Achilles tendonitis
  • Joint damage
  • Poor circulation and swelling in feet & legs

Healthcare Professionals

Doctors and nurses are always on the go. With the hecticness of medicine, healthcare professionals are always on the go, often logging long and arduous hours. Much of which is on their feet. Because of long shifts, those hours can have effects on the feet including bunions, flat feet, toe deformities, and heel spurs.

For these reasons, it’s advised that healthcare professionals invest in the proper footwear that fit correctly to ensure the time spent on their feet is not damaging. Similarly, this advice can be applied to other industries with similar long hours including cooks, retail workers, and cashiers.

Additionally, investing in compression socks can help reduce swelling and inflammation of your legs.

Construction

Beyond the fact that construction workers need to wear boots all day, additional potential hazards exist. Traumatic impact like falling objects, accidents, and shock can all impact your feet. Ensure your workspace is safe and invest in proper boots that have adequate cushioning for the career you’re in. Shoes are not an area where you want to be overly frugal. Invest in your feet.

Teachers

Teachers spend most of their days on their feet. This stress can cause lower leg problems including arthritis, joint damage, lower back pain, and knee pain. Try to take regular sitting breaks every hour, even if it’s for a few minutes.

Invest in proper footwear that has the proper support and cushioning to protect your feet. Avoid using the same footwear as you do when exercising as footwear may be worn down in places. Wearing worn down shoes (from running for example) can cause joint soreness and misalignment since standing, walking, and running all have different impacts on shoes depending on your gait.

Outdoor Jobs

If you work outside all year-round, including in the winter, you’ll need winterproof footwear and socks to prevent frostbite. From the temperature to the climate, the elements can have a major impact on your feet. Wet feet mean added risk for blisters, athlete’s foot, and toe fungus. Conversely, cold feet are at an increased risk of frostbite, which causes irreversible damage to your feet.

Office Jobs

Then there are other jobs that don’t require you to stand all day. In fact, many jobs require the opposite – sitting all day. In these cases, you want to make sure you stay hydrated and get up regularly to avoid hip pain and tight muscles.

For example, if you work in marketing, sales, design, web development, data, as a lawyer, or in HR, you’re likely spending hours in front of a computer. Making sure you have a balanced work-life balance that involves adequate exercise is essential. And that may not be enough. Remember, you can’t simply reverse the effects of sitting for 7-8 hours a day with a few thousand steps.

Following a proper stretching routine, and incorporating strength training to avoid muscle imbalances is key for a healthy lifestyle. And to have healthy feet.

Plus, office jobs often have dress codes. If you wear formal footwear including high heels or dress shoes, think about the long-term impact they can have on your feet. Aim to either reduce the frequency of use or invest in comfortable and supportive dress shoes that are a hybrid between fashion and function.

Proper Footwear For The Job

Foot health starts with proper footwear.

Investing in the right shoes for the job is essential for the long-term health of your body. Here at the clinic, we have a select of great orthopaedic shoes available to help heal your foot problems and prevent pain.

Our clinic prioritizes 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.

If you need assistance with shoe fitting or choosing the right shoe for you, don’t hesitate to reach out to us.

Your Solutions Live Here!

All under one roof. Our team is trained to handle any and all your foot health concerns.

From mild, to critical, 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 today.

Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome: Carpal Tunnel In Your Foot

Carpal tunnel, but in your foot.

Tarsal tunnel syndrome is a relatively common foot condition that affects the ankle. Specifically, tarsal tunnel syndrome is the result of a damaged posterior tibial nerve.

Overview

Tarsal tunnel syndrome is the most common nerve entrapment of the ankle. It compares to carpal tunnel syndrome, the condition’s equivalent in the hand. Carpal tunnel syndrome occurs when the median nerve compresses. Symptoms include numbness, tingling and weakness in the hand and arm.

OK, back to the tarsal tunnel.

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.

Tarsal tunnel syndrome occurs when the tarsal tunnel is compressed. Imagine your squeezing a casing of wires. The more pressure against the case, the more stress put onto fillings inside. In this case, those would be 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.

Causes

Tarsal tunnel syndrome can result in pain because of direct damage to the tibial nerve.

The following can contribute to tarsal tunnel syndrome:

  • Flat feet: fallen arches and flat feet can stretch the tibial nerve;
  • Growths in the tarsal tunnel (bone spurs and cysts);
  • Varicose veins: can cause compression on the nerve;
  • Inflammation;
  • Osteoarthritis;
  • Overpronation: overpronating and inward rotation of the foot can strain the ankle and lead to pain in and around the tarsal tunnel. Overpronation can also stretch out the tibial nerve;
  • Improper shoes: small shoes can cause undue stress around the heel (and elsewhere) compressing the tarsal tunnel;
  • Ankle injuries: sprains, stress fractures, and other lower leg and ankle injuries can cause inflammation and swelling.

A medical professional can diagnose TTS (tarsal tunnel syndrome) through an exam, x-rays, or electrical testing. Typically, an MRI and Nerve Conduction Velocity test is done to diagnose TTS.

Often, there are numerous causes. Or, the cause is unclear. Runner’s World reports that about 50% of the time, a cause for Tarsal tunnel syndrome cannot be identified. In these cases, if a cause is not immediately clear, consult a doctor for more information.

Treatment

Tarsal tunnel syndrome can be managed effectively, especially if treated early.

  • Swap out your shoes: small shoes can put undue pressure on the inner ankle;
  • Custom-made orthotics: custom-made orthotics (which we do in-store) can help reduce the effects of overpronation;
  • Anti-inflammatories: swelling in the foot can lead to compression of the tarsal tunnel;
  • Compression socks: akin to anti-inflammatories, the goal here is to reduce swelling of the ankle and lower leg;
  • As a last resort, surgery is an option.
    • One such surgery is a tarsal tunnel release. In this case, the doctor “creates an opening behind the ankle that extends down to the arch of the foot. The surgeon carefully divides the ligament so it is not pressing against the tibial nerve.”

If symptoms persist or worsen, consult a healthcare professional for a proper diagnosis.

Prevention

  • Improve flexibility of the lower leg and foot;
  • Schedule a shoe fitting: finding the right shoes (and the right fit) is essential for the health of your feet. Small shoes can lead to tarsal tunnel syndrome. Additionally, ill-fitting shoes can cause a whole slew of other foot conditions;
  • Physical therapy and strengthening.
    • Heel raises
    • Calf stretches
    • Balancing exercises

Tarsal tunnel syndrome is the less-talked-about version of carpal tunnel syndrome.

If you feel a burning sensation or pain on the inside of your ankle or experience chronic ankle swelling, you may have tarsal tunnel syndrome.

For more information, and to schedule a shoe-fitting session or to learn more about custom foot orthotics, fill out the form below, or stop by the store. We’re located at 2481 Bloor St. West in Toronto.

4 Foot Problems For Runners

Running is one of the most rewarding activities both for our mind and body.

That said, running comes with several risk factors in the form of injuries and foot issues. Some are rare, and some are experienced by almost every runner you come across. And, if you haven’t yet, now’s the time to do some reading to prevent yourself from the same fate by avoiding several runner’s foot problems

Consider these foot issues a part of the unofficial runner’s bucket list when it comes to experiences.

Shin Splints

Shin Splints are the common term for medial tibial stress syndrome.

This condition is characterized by pain along the inner part of the shin. Most commonly, shin splints are a result of too-much t00-soon. Your lower legs are not able to acclimatize to the load running puts on your body. For example, many new runners suffer shin splints when running for too long, too soon.

Typically, our aerobic capacity builds faster than our muscles and joints. So, it’s important to increase your weekly running by no more than 10%.

Another possible cause of shin splints is overpronation, which occurs when your ankle rolls too far inwards. The excessive inward rolling means your shins are bearing more of the impact than normal. If this is the case, consider purchasing motion control shoes that feature a thick medial post.

In terms of treatment, follow the RICE protocol – rest, ice, compression, and elevation. You’ll also want to reduce your mileage and the intensity of your workouts. When you’re ready to return, ramp up slowly, and avoid running on harder surfaces and opt for grass, and trail running.

Black Toenails

Running-induced black toenails are called Runner’s Toe. Repetitive trauma – the type associated with long-distance running – cause a blood blister to form under the toenail resulting in the blackened nail. Black toenails are among the most runner’s foot problems.

The medical term is known as a subungual hematoma, which means bleeding and bruising under the toenail. Sometimes, the blood blister can start out small, and remain small. In that case, the darkened part of the nail will begin to grow out and be removed with the routine nail clipping. The drying of the blood can cause your nail to separate, and loosen. So, your toenail may fall off altogether. Hence, the common runner experience of ‘losing a toenail.’

Fortunately, the whole experience isn’t particularly painful, and no intermittent treatment is necessary. If the toenail does, in fact, fall off, wash the area and wrap in a bandage. If you experience persistent pain, you should visit a healthcare professional.

In terms of prevention, find a shoe that fits right. Consider a Shoe Fitting to determine the exact size and type of shoe that’s best for you. If your toes are crowded and up against the edge of your shoe, there will be more friction and impact causing you toe to blister. Additionally, if you run on undulating terrains, like downhills, you may be more prone to black toenails.

Blisters

Getting blisters is a shoo-in for runners.

A Blister is a small fluid-filled bubble on the skin. Most blisters on your feet are friction blisters, which result from socks or shoes excessively rubbing against the skin of your feet. This excessive rubbing can be from ill-fitting shoes, wet shoes, or just overuse, like running a marathon.

The ‘bubble’ itself is a natural cushion that your body produces in order to create a protective barrier between the irritated area of skin and friction-causing object.

The most common question related to blisters is: should I pop the blister or let it be? It depends.

If the blister is small enough and poses no risk of opening and possibly causing an infection, leave it be. Cover it with a Band-aid, or even basic medical tape, which has proven to be one of the most effective tools in preventing blisters. Additionally, the medical tape is only mildly adhesive meaning it won’t tear the blister. Plus, it’s extremely inexpensive.

However, if it’s large, and has a greater risk of opening because of added friction, consider popping the blister. Use a pin or needle (sterile) and puncture the outer skin. Drain the fluid from the blister. Thoroughly rinse the area.

Chafing

Chafing is similar to blisters in that it’s caused by excessive rubbing.

For runners, chafing can occur anywhere where skin rubs against skin or clothing. One common hotspot is the groin area, both because of shorts, and because your thighs may rub together when running. In fact, the latter even has its own name: Chub Rub.

Chafing is more of a nuisance than a foot condition but still important to address. You’ll want to do a number of things in order to prevent chafing:

  • Use vaseline to provide a barrier on your skin.
  • Stay dry: moisture can increase irritation and lead to chafing.
  • Dress right: wear moisture-wicking clothes and do not re-use the same part of bottoms without washing.

If the area is very painful, swollen, bleeding, or crusted, your health care provider may recommend a Medicated Ointment.

If you’re a runner and are interested in avoiding potential concern, Call us at 416-769-3338 or book a visit today!

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.