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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!

10 Common Foot Conditions And Injuries

Your legs are involved in every aspect of movement. They’re the foundation of your body, and act as shock absorbers. Our reliance on our legs cannot be overstated. It’s crucial we take proper leg and foot pain management to avoid common foot conditions.

Overwhelmingly, there are some common foot conditions that are more prevalent than others. These are either injuries or conditions that a large portion of the population experiences once, or repeatedly. To put you on the right track, we’ve rounded up 10 common foot conditions. Note that these are listed in no particular order.

1.  Bunions

A bunion is perhaps the widest known foot condition. A bunion is an enlargement on the outside of the big toe. The enlargement can be a bony outgrowth, or a shift in your big toe. Often the base of the metatarsal shifts outwards (meaning your toe points inwards), and a bunion results because of the deformity.

You may develop bunions through any of the following reasons:

  • Your foot is shaped in a way that makes you more likely to have bunions
  • Your foot rolls overly inwards when you walk
  • Flat feet
  • Tight footwear

Fortunately, a physical therapy regimen, over-the-counter products, and proper footwear enables you to live with bunions without surgery.

2. Athlete’s Foot

Athlete’s foot is a contagious fungal skin infection that affects the skin on soles of feet and between toes. The fungi that causes athlete’s foot is commonly found in moist places, like shared showers and locker rooms.

Athlete’s foot typically presents as a translucent white moist skin between the toes on one or both feet. To treat the condition, you can use over-the-counter products including medicated creams, ointments, sprays, and powders.

3. Ingrown Toenails

An Ingrown Toenail occurs when the nail begins to grow into the skin. In many cases, you can treat ingrown toenails yourself. In severe cases, you should consult a doctor.

Typically, wearing tight shoes, cutting your nails too short, or not across, and injuring your toenail can cause an ingrown toenail. Home remedies include soaking your feet in warm water, wearing proper footwear, taking anti-inflammatories, and placing dental floss under the edge of the toenail.

If the ingrown toenail is serious, surgery is performed.

The surgery consists of numbing the toe with a local anaesthetic, then removing the portion of the toenail that is growing into the skin, and finally, applying a chemical to the nail root to prevent regrowth.

4. Black Toenails

Black toenails may be rare to the majority of the population, but are common among runners. The repeated nature of running puts your toenails at risk due to impact and friction. Typically, black toenails result from a blister underneath the toenail. The most common cause is tight footwear, and from undulating terrain as downhill running adds pressure on your toes.

You might also get a black toenail because of trauma to the toe. Occasionally, a black toenail will fall off.

Here’s everything you need to know about black toenails including treatment and prevention.

5. Plantar Fasciitis

Common Foot ConditionsPlantar fasciitis can be a real pain…in the heel.

This foot condition involves inflammation of a thick band of tissue that connects your heel with your toes – the plantar fascia. Plantar fasciitis can cause sharp pain in the heel, especially in the morning.

Runners are especially prone to plantar fasciitis because of the repeated stress to the plantar fascia. Common treatment and preventative measures include self-massage with a golf ball, anti-inflammatories, and if necessary, custom orthotics.

6. Nail Fungus

The toes are particularly susceptible to nail fungus because fungi thrive in dark, moist places. Since many of us wear shoes for hours every day, one can understand how nail fungus comes about.

Common symptoms of nail fungus include yellowing and thickening of the toenail, brittleness, and sometimes an unpleasant odour. For early or mild cases of nail fungus, you can use a topical antifungal cream.

To prevent nail fungus, wash and dry your feet regularly, don’t share nail clippers, avoid being barefoot in public facilities, and keep your toenails short, but not too short.

7. Bone Spurs

Bone spurs are bony outgrowths, typically in areas prone to osteoarthritis. The most common forms of bone spurs in the foot include heel spurs, and a bone spur on top of the first metatarsophalangeal joint (MTJ). The latter is a common spot. Stiffness and arthritis in the big toe leads to a condition known as hallux rigidus.

Bone spurs inherently reduce flexibility and can be quite painful. With treatment including proper footwear, people can live normally with bone spurs without needing surgery. You should note that bone spurs are progressive meaning there’s no reversal of impact and damage done.

8. Corns

Corns are like calluses, except that corns can be painful. A corn is an area of hardened skin that develops on areas of the feet that sustain too much compression.

A corn has a few hot spots: between your toes, the outer edge of your little toe, and on top of the toes.

Corns are removable. One of our Toronto foot clinic specialists or chiropodists can safely remove the build-up of tissue and assess whether Orthopedic Shoes or Custom Orthotics may be indicated to prevent their recurrence.

9. Blisters

Blisters are more of an annoyance than anything. This minor foot condition occurs when the skin is aggravated. Because of this friction, a small fluid-filled bubble on the skin forms.

Fortunately, most blisters heal on their own. To ensure there are no complications, you can cover the blister with an adhesive bandage or blister pad, both of which are available at our Toronto foot clinic. Common tricks to avoid blisters include using baby powder for sweaty feet, proper moisture-wicking socks, and wearing shoes that fit.

10. Gout

Gout affects roughly 3 million Canadians each year.

This condition is a form of arthritis that can develop rapidly. The painful condition involves swelling and tenderness of joints. Gout is most common at the base of the big toe.

According to the Mayo Clinic, “gout occurs when urate crystals accumulate in your joint, causing the inflammation and intense pain of a gout attack. Urate crystals can form when you have high levels of uric acid in your blood.” Foods that can lead to high levels of urate are red meats, seafood, refined or processed carbohydrates, sugary drinks and alcohol such as beer and hard liquor.

And there you have it: 10 common foot conditions.

This list is by no means an exhaustive list. There are tens, if not hundreds, of different common foot conditions you might develop over the course of your life. To address your foot issues early, see a foot specialist.

If you’re in Toronto, Book An Appointment with a specialist today, or visit the store for everyday items like compression socks, footwear, and for a custom shoe fitting.

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.

How To Protect Your Feet This Winter

Winter can be the time of year when your feet are hit hardest. Dry skin, wet shoes, frostbite, sweaty feet: all foot issues and conditions that seem synonymous with winter.

As temperatures drop and we head into cold(er) conditions, you’ll want to know how to protect your feet this winter.

Below, we break down some of the most important areas in this winter foot guide.

Keep Your Feet Warm

This tip is no surprise. Frigid temperatures mean a frostbite factor.

Frostbite is an injury caused by freezing of the skin and underlying tissues. Your toes are particularly susceptible to frostbite, which begins when your skin becomes cold and red, then numb, then hard and pale.

The numbness stage can be of particular concern, because you may not know the severity of the frostbite. The injury starts out as frostnip, followed by superficial frostbite, and then deep frostbite, the most severe of the three stages.

To prevent frostbite from occurring, taking the following precautions:

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

For more on frostbite prevention, and to ensure your feet are warm this winter, check out our complete winter foot guide.

Dry Your Shoes To Protect Your Feet This Winter

Do yourself a favour and ensure your shoes are dry before each use.

Not only will it extend the life of your shoes, you’ll be less prone to the foot conditions that come with wet feet. Plus, wearing wet shoes for extended periods of time can permanently alter the sizing of the shoe, making them bigger than intended.

If your shoes do become wet, remove the insoles and leave them in a well-ventilated area. Keeping your shoes in your bag, closet, or in dark, moist areas will mean a longer drying time. There are also heated shoe racks that quicken the drying process; they can be a great investment if you consistently find your shoes don’t have adequate time between use.

Keep Your Feet (Not Skin) Dry

Did you know that sweat glands are more concentrated on your feet than in any other part of the body? On a given day, thanks to the roughly 250,000 sweat glands, your feet can produce up to one cup of sweat. No wonder moisture can linger.

Even in the winter, your feet sweat. To keep your feet dry, invest in moisture-wicking socks. In essence, these type of socks absorb and bring moisture away from your feet. For a complete list of recommendations, check out our list of best socks for your feet that won’t break the bank.

Socks are only part of the equation in the battle against winter elements. Your primary source of defence is your footwear. And not all shoes are designed for winter. Avoid breathable shoes as they won’t be able to protect your feet from the wind. Plus, slush, ice and snow can more easily penetrate your shoe’s outer material and waterlog your socks.

For a full list of brands we carry in-store for your footwear needs, read about the products we offer.

Soften Your Skin

Winter is prime time for dry skin, which occurs when your feet aren’t retaining enough moisture.

According to Harvard Medical School, winter poses a special problem because humidity is low both outdoors and indoors, and the water content of the epidermis (the outermost layer of skin) tends to reflect the level of humidity around it. Further, dry skin becomes much more common with age.

By moisturizing your skin, you can help prevent calluses, blisters, and cracked heels. Skin moisturizers – mixed with other preventative measures like reducing the temperature of the water you bathe in, reducing showers to once daily, and use a humidifier in the winter – is a good start. You can use petroleum jelly or mainstream brands.

Fend Off Feisty Fungus

With harsh winter elements comes added exposure to moisture.

Certain fungi thrive in dark, moist places, making your feet a prime area. You could be at an increased risk of:

As we’ve previously written, dermatophyte fungi thrive in dark, moist areas and feed on keratin – a primary component of the epidermis (the outer layer of human skin). This means that our feet, which spend most of the day bound up in socks and shoes, present an ideal environment for the proliferation of a fungal infection. Consequently, one in 10 people have athlete’s foot.

In order to help prevent these types of foot conditions and protect your feet this winter, swap out wet socks for dry ones – remember that fungi thrive in moist areas – and wear winter-tough boots – like Sorels – when possible in the winter. Other common preventative measures include trimming your toenails, thoroughly drying your feet, and wearing shoes when in common areas like the gym.

For proper winter footwear and socks, visit our Toronto Foot Clinic on Monday-Friday between 10 a.m.-7 p.m. and Saturday 10 a.m.-4 p.m.

Get Your Feet Measured This Winter

There are a slew of problems that arise from ill-fitting shoes. For example, black toenails, pinched-nerve pain, bunions, blisters, corns and calluses can all of a result of shoes that are either too big or too small.

Addressing problems with your feet is essential for your entire body. In fact, the health of your feet can directly affect your posture.

In fact, eight out of 10 people have ill-fitting shoes. At Feet First Clinic, we offer every customer a comprehensive footwear assessment free of charge to ensure that you invest in the healthiest footwear for your unique feet.

Our footwear specialists and chiropodists will help match your foot shape, structure, and alignment to specific shoes and footwear features that answer to your corrective, supportive, or accommodative needs.

If you’re in Toronto, come on in and visit us for an in-person assessment.

Here’s a complete guide to picking the correct footwear to better protect your feet this winter.

Visit a Professional

Feet First Clinic has some of the best chiropodists in Toronto — we specialize in foot care treatments and products like custom made orthotics, orthopedic footwear, accessories and much more.

Read about what you can expect from your first visit to Feet First Clinic.

Cracked toenails

Cracked toenails can really be a bother. They get caught on socks, pants, and bed sheets, and depending on the severity of the crack, they can be downright painful. Although in most cases patience and simple nail care will tend to the issue, there are times when further treatment may be required. It really all depends on the reason why the toenail has cracked or split in the first place.

image of a cracked big toenail

Causes of A Cracked Toenail

Trauma

Trauma is a broad term that includes an injury which may result in a bruise and undetected, repetitive micro trauma from daily activities. Sport activity, an accidental fall, dropping a heavy object on the foot, ill-fitting footwear, and frequent use of high heels can all cause trauma to the toenails.

Environment

Frequent exposure to wet or cold environments can make the nail weak and vulnerable to cracking.

Nail polish

Frequent use of nail polish and strong solvents such as nail polish remover can cause the nail to split.

Fungal infections

Harmful microorganisms can infect a weakened nail and cause the nail to change. If your toenail looks yellow, white, brown, cracked, crumbly, and/or thickened, you may have a fungal nail. To protect yourself from fungus, avoid injury to the nail, wearing wet or damp shoes or socks, unsanitary pedicures, and always wear shoes in public gyms or showers.

Systemic issues

Toenails can crack because of an underlying systemic disease including but not limited to rheumatoid arthritis, thyroid disease, anemia, psoriasis, eczema, and peripheral vascular disease. Bad habits such as smoking increase the risk of developing conditions that cause poor circulation, especially to the extremities of the body.

Nutritional deficiencies

Your nails need nutrients such as vitamins, minerals, and protein to grow healthy and strong. Iron deficiencies as well as vitamin B deficiencies are common causes of split nails.

Age

Finally, age is another factor that can cause the nail the become brittle and more vulnerable to crack.

As mentioned previously, treatment depends on the cause. If the cause is a systemic issue, the systemic disease must be addressed and treated. If the cause is a vitamin deficiency, talk to your doctor or nutritionist about vitamin supplements and possible dietary changes.

For local treatment of the nail itself and management of potential infections, visit a Licensed Chiropodist or foot specialist who will address the concern directly.

Chiropodists are primary health care professionals who are able to prescribe medications, administer local injections, and perform soft tissue surgeries, including nail surgeries. Although rare, a nail surgery may be indicated for a damaged nail depending on the severity of the deformity.

Leading up to your appointment with a foot specialist, you can prevent further damage to the nail by protecting the area with either a bandage, a toe sleeve, or toe cap, and keeping the nail trimmed, filed, and clean.

Book an appointment today!

Everything you need to know about Ingrown Toenails

Ingrown toenails can be very painful and flat out annoying! Keep on reading to find out everything you need to know about them including the treatment options available to get rid of them.

An ingrown toenail occurs when your nail grows into the skin fold beside your nail. Your body will treat it like a foreign object and initiate an inflammatory response against it, resulting in a red, swollen, painful toe. In addition, because the skin barrier is now broken, you run the risk of an infection. How can you tell if you have an infection?

Look for:

  • pus (a cloudy yellow-ish white liquid),
  • increased tenderness
  • increased swelling and redness and tendencies for the area to bleed easily.

INGROWN TOENAIL1

To treat an ingrown toenail, start by doing foot soaks in a salt-water bath for approximately 10 minutes every night. Make sure to keep the toe clean, dry and covered with a small amount of Polysporin ointment and a bandage. Avoid trimming the nail yourself, which can lead to more problems. Your best bet is to book an appointment with a Chiropodist who will properly trim the toenail and prescribe an oral or topical antibiotic if needed. Depending on the severity and frequency of the ingrown toenail, either periodic visits for nail care or a minor surgery to permanently remove the offending nail edge may be recommended.

The surgery consists of numbing the toe with a local anesthetic, then removing the portion of the toenail that is growing into the skin, and finally, applying a chemical to the nail root to prevent regrowth. This procedure takes about 30 minutes to an hour. Most people can drive home after, and it is recommended to reduce your activity for a day or so following the surgery.

 

To prevent ingrown toenails from occurring, don’t cut your toenails too short or too deep; rather cut your nails straight across and file the corners smooth. In addition, avoid wearing shoes that are too narrow for your feet. If you’re active, wear proper footwear for the activity and try to avoid injury. If you have trouble seeing or reaching your toenails or have been diagnosed with diabetes, seek a health care professional for all your foot and nail concerns. All in all, when you start to experience pain at your toe and suspect an ingrown toenail, don’t ignore the symptoms. The sooner you address the issue, the easier it is to treat and the better the outcome.

Book an appointment with a Chiropodist today!

What you Need to Know about Black Toenails

You take off your sock and realize that your big toenail has gone from clear to black, and you’re wondering what that means. It’s possible that it could be a subungual hematoma, runner’s toe or fungal infection. Read the list below to find out more about these conditions and how to treat them.

Subungual Hematoma

The first possibility for a black toenail is a subungual hematoma — this is when the blood collects underneath the toenail after it endures trauma. It can happen when you drop something heavy on top of your foot or stub your toe into a hard surface. Think of it like a bruise on the skin. Instead of turning the impacted area purple or blue, it turns black.

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. This is what you can do right after the moment of “trauma.”

The next step is to be patient and wait for the nail to heal. It will take between 6 to 9 months to go back to normal.

In some cases, you should seek foot care in Toronto from a professional chiropodist so that you can safely treat your injured toenail:

  • If the toenail is falling off
  • If there is a crack that goes down into the nail bed
  • If the toenail shows signs of infection
  • If you have diabetes or a compromised immune system

To avoid subungual hematomas, you should wear protective closed-toed shoes when carrying heavy items, watch where you’re walking and try to be aware of your surroundings. There is no way to guarantee that you’ll avoid the problem completely. You don’t tend to drop things onto your foot or stub your toes on purpose. Accidents happen.

Runner’s Toe

There is a reason why a black toenail is often referred to as “runner’s toe.” When someone regularly runs for long stretches, their toenails can turn black because they hit the toe box of the running shoe over and over again. The repetitive trauma leads to the injury. 

You can treat a black toenail from running in the same way that you would treat it from an accident. You should visit a chiropodist if your toenail is falling off, if it’s showing signs of infection, or if you have diabetes or a compromised immune system. 

One of the best ways to prevent runner’s toe is to get running shoes that are the right size for your feet and have lots of wiggle room for your toes. You don’t want the toenails to press into the top of the toe box. To keep your feet from sliding around in the shoes, you should make sure the laces are tied tight and get custom orthotic inserts to limit any friction. You should also practice proper toenail care by clipping too-long nails straight across, not in a curve.

Avoid wearing coloured nail polish if you’re concerned about runner’s toe. It will be much easier to spot and heal.

Fungal Infection

Normally, a fungal nail infection will change to a shade of white or yellow, but when there is a lot of build-up under the nail, it can also turn black. If you’re dealing with toenail fungus, you should see a chiropodist at Feet First Clinic to get nail debridement, which will make it easier for topical antifungal ointments to penetrate the surface and reach the infection.

If you’re unsure about the cause of your black toenail, go to a chiropodist to inspect it. They will be able to determine if the colour change is caused by trauma, fungal infection or if you need to see a different medical professional. Don’t ignore the problem. Deal with it right away.

Why does my toe hurt?

There are several reasons why your toe may be painful. The important thing to do is not ignore it, especially if the pain is accompanied with redness and swelling. Keep reading to find out what your next steps should be to find out the culprit to your pain.

  1. Ingrown toenail

An ingrown toenail is when the sides of your toenail grow into the surrounding skin. Once the nail pierces the skin, your body reacts by creating an inflammatory response to this, which leads to redness, swelling, warmth, and pain in the area. The longer the toe is left in this condition, the higher the risk of infection. How can you tell if you have an infection? The signs of an infection are somewhat similar to those of the body’s natural inflammatory response to a cut or wound, but greater in a sense. For instance, an infected ingrown toenail will increase in redness, swelling, pain, and warmth in addition to being accompanied by any of the following: a foul odor, maceration (moisture), pus (cloudy, creamy liquid), blood.

To find out more about ingrown toenails, such as what causes them and how they can be managed, click the link here

  1. Paronychia

Paronychia is the medical term to describe an infection of the hand or the foot at the location where the skin meets the nail, either on the sides of the nail or along its base. This infection can be bacterial or fungal in nature and is usually the result of damage to the skin (via biting or picking or any other physical trauma). Excessive and chronic moisture can also make the skin more vulnerable to these infections.

Similar to an ingrown toenail, paronychia will also present as a red, swollen, warm, and tender digit.

  1. Tinea Pedis

Although Tinea pedis also known as Athlete’s Foot, usually presents as itchy, dry, and flaky skin on the bottom of the foot, it can also be localized between the digits or along the sides of a single or multiple digit(s). Sometimes, Tinea Pedis features a cluster of small red vesicles, along a digit and may spread to adjacent digits. When left untreated, the toe may become red, swollen, and tender to the touch.

If you have a red, swollen, painful toe, regardless of the cause, book an appointment with a chiropodist today! Your chiropodist will be able to determine the cause of your pain and provide the necessary treatments to get you back on the path to good foot health. All the above conditions require medical attention, including a prescription for an oral or topical antibiotic or anti-fungal. In the meantime, as you wait for your appointment, try soaking your feet in a salt water bath for 5-10 minutes.

When you’re not soaking your feet, practice good hygiene and keep your feet clean and dry. Wear a new pair of clean socks everyday and let your feet breathe at home. Most microorganisms thrive in moist, dark environments.

Are Your Shoes Too Small? Here Are the Warning Signs

A “bad fit” doesn’t mean that you won’t be able to slip the shoe onto your foot. It could mean that the toe box is too close to the tips of your toes, the heel notch is digging into your skin, or the top is pressing into the bridge of the foot. If you don’t notice these discomforts, here are some warning signs that your shoes are too small:

Blisters

Unless they are caused by a sunburn, an infection or an allergy, foot blisters are caused by friction from the shoe material repeatedly rubbing against your skin. If you’ve noticed the fluid-filled pockets appearing on your feet, your shoes are probably too small.  

Bruised Toenails

Toenail bruises come from impact. The impact could be stubbing your toe on a step. Or the impact could be knocking your toenails on the edge of the toe box over and over — this is why runners often have bruised toenails.

The blood trapped under the nail makes it change colour. The nail goes from red to brown to purple and then black. It will stay that colour until it grows out after 6 to 9 months or until the nail falls off.

Hot Foot

You may recognize a sensation commonly called hot foot, where your feet are incredibly hot after going for a walk or finishing a workout. Friction from too-tight shoes will make your feet swell and feel like they’re burning.

 

Calluses

A foot callus is a rough and dry patch of skin on the sole. When the area is dealing with too much friction or pressure, the skin thickens and develops a callus.

Normally, you can try to get rid of your callus by doing a foot soak and removing the dry skin with a callus shaver. If you have diabetes or a weakened immune system, you should make an appointment with a chiropodist for foot callus removal because you don’t want to risk a foot infection.

Corns

Corns are similar to calluses. They are hardened, raised bumps that form because of too much friction or pressure on the area. They tend to appear on top or between toes. They can be painful to the touch. You can make an appointment with the experts at Feet First clinic to undergo a safe and effective corn removal procedure.

If your shoes don’t fit properly, you shouldn’t wear them. You should get a new pair of shoes as soon as possible. When you’re buying a replacement pair, you should follow these steps to guarantee a proper shoe fit:

  • Have your feet measured to determine the accurate size.
  • Try on the shoe with the laces tied up.
  • Walk around in the shoes to test if your heel slips, your toes hit the toe box or the material pinches.

Consider getting custom orthotics to give your feet additional comfort and support. These specialized accessories will help counteract the effects of standing all day and walking all day, like soreness, calluses and corns.

Whatever you do, don’t ascribe to the mentality of breaking in your shoes. The method is reserved for leather dress shoes, which can be stretched to prevent any aches and pains. It was never meant for running shoes, sneakers or sandals.

If your shoe doesn’t fit properly in the store, it won’t fit when you get home. Don’t bear through discomfort in hopes that your footwear will eventually mold to your feet. Getting the right size and fit should be your number one priority.