Is Your Foot Fracture An Early Sign of Osteoporosis?

Unexplained foot fractures may be the first sign of osteoporosis, a bone thinning disease which affects over 28 million Americans and  accounts for 1.5 million bone fractures a year.

Osteoporosis is frequently referred to as the “Silent crippler” since it often progresses without any symptoms or isn’t diagnosed until a person experiences pain from a bone fracture.   The porous nature of bones in people with osteoporosis make them more susceptible to bone fractures, especially in the feet.   Because the bones are in a weakened state, normal weight-bearing actions like walking can cause the bones in the foot to break.   In fact, many patients visit their podiatrist suffering from foot pain only to find out they actually have a stress fracture, without having experienced an injury.

Podiatrists are able to diagnose osteoporosis through bone densitometry tests, which measure calcium and mineral levels in the bones through low-dose radiation x-ray, or possible through a routine x-ray.  This is why prevention and early intervention are key; women should make sure bone densitometry tests are part of their wellness examinations when indicated by their physicians.

If you are diagnosed with osteoporosis, it’s important to protect your feet from stress fractures.   Wear shoes that provide support and cushioning, such as athletic running shoes, to provide extra shock absorption and protection.   Custom orthotics may also be recommended to protect the foot from pressure and provide shock absorption, particularly during exercise.

If you are suffering from a foot fracture, the podiatrists’ at North Eastern Ohio Podiatry Group, LLC can help provide the best treatment options for your condition.

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Common Runners’ Injury: Stress Fractures of the Foot

Repetitive impact on feet can increase risk of damage

Stress fractures of the foot are becoming more common in runners, especially first-time marathoners, according to Willoughby hills,Ohio foot and ankle surgeon Atta, Asef, DPM, FACFAS.

The growing popularity of marathons among beginning runners has contributed to the increase in repetitive stress injuries, including stress fractures of the foot, seen by Dr. Asef, a member of the American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons. Often, first-time marathoners enter a race with little or improper long-distance training. The lack of experience coupled with the repetitive impact placed on the feet during the run can produce enough stress to cause hairline breaks in the bones of the foot.

“Runners who increase their mileage too quickly or change to a more intense phase of training may be more susceptible to a stress fracture due to the increased force placed on the bones,” says Dr. Asef. “A general rule of thumb for runners is to increase the mileage by no more than 10 percent each week. Runners who are training also need to have adequate rest time in between runs to help decrease the risk of a fracture.”

Runners at all levels of experience are also at higher risk for stress fractures if they wear improper shoes while running or training, suffer from flatfoot or other foot deformities, or have osteoporosis. Signs of a stress fracture can include pain, swelling, redness and possibly bruising of the area.

“Stress fractures can occur anywhere in the foot and can eventually lead to a complete break of the bone if left untreated,” Dr. (LAST NAME) explained.  “Early diagnosis and treatment are important to ensure proper healing.”

If a break is suspected, Dr. Asef advises runners to immediately follow the RICE protocol—Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation. If pain and swelling last longer than a few days, an appointment for an x-ray and diagnosis is in order.

In most cases, treatment includes rest and immobilization with casting of the foot. Surgery may be required in certain instances to repair and stabilize a stress fracture that has progressed into a full fracture.

Runners can take action to prevent repetitive stress injuries in their feet by wearing supportive athletic shoes and slowly building up their activity levels according to their abilities. “If a runner suffers from abnormal mechanics in the foot, such as overpronation or hypermobility, custom orthotics can also be helpful to prevent these injuries,” Dr. Asef, adds:

If you suspect you have a foot injury or fracture, call Dr. Asef’s office at 440-953-3668 for an evaluation.

If you are suffering from stress fractures, the podiatrists’ at North Eastern Ohio Podiatry Group, LLC can help provide the best treatment options for your condition.

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Old Ankle Sprains Come Back to Haunt Baby Boomers

A Willoughby Hills, Ohio foot and ankle surgeon has a message for Baby Boomers getting back into fitness and sports: Get your ankles checked for chronic instability caused by injuries that might not have healed properly years ago.

Atta J. Asef, DPM, FACFAS, says many Boomers who have suffered ankle sprains in their younger years could be at risk for more serious damage as they age and try to stay active. It is estimated that one in four sports injuries involves the foot or ankle, and a majority of them occur from incomplete rehabilitation of earlier injuries.

“Pain isn’t normal in the ankle, even if you’re just getting back into shape,” says Dr. Asef.

HE says swelling is another symptom these previously-injured Boomers may experience. Both amateur and professional athletes often misunderstand how serious a sprain can be, and they rush back into action without taking time to rehabilitate the injury properly.

“A sprain that happened years ago can leave residual weakness that isn’t noticed in normal daily activity, but subjecting the ankle to rigorous physical activity can further damage improperly healed ligaments, and cause persistent pain and swelling,” He said.  “For anyone hoping to regain past athletic fitness, it’s recommended that you have that old ankle injury checked out before becoming active again.”

Some sprains are severe enough to strain or tear the tendons on the outside of the ankle, called the peroneal tendons.  Research shows that more than 85 percent of athletes who had surgery to repair a torn peroneal tendon were able to return to full sporting activity within three months after the procedure.

“Peroneal tendon tears are an overlooked cause of lateral ankle pain,” said Dr. Asef. “Although surgery for athletically active patients shouldn’t be taken lightly, surgical repair of the peroneal tendons is proving to be very successful in helping athletes with serious ankle problems return to full activity.”

Dr. Asef added that persistent pain and tenderness after a sprain, especially if the individual felt a ‘pop’ on the outside of the ankle and couldn’t stand tiptoe, might be a warning sign that the tendon is torn or split.  The injury is best diagnosed with an MRI exam.

If you are suffering from ankle issues, the podiatrists’ at North Eastern Ohio Podiatry Group, LLC can help provide the best treatment options for your condition.

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Children’s Soccer Linked To Ingrown Toenails

Foot and ankle surgeon Atta J. Asef, DPM, FACFAS, says He treats many soccer-playing children for ingrown toenails. He blames improper toenail trimming, snug soccer cleats and repetitive kicking for creating this painful problem.

“Many kids wear hand-me-down cleats that don’t fit,” says Dr. Asef. “Older children like tighter cleats. They believe it gives them a better feel for the ball and the field.”

Dr. Asef has offices in Willoughby Hills Ohio and Euclid, Ohio and is a member of the American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons. He says there are steps soccer moms and dads can take to prevent their children from suffering a painful ingrown toenail. First, teach children how to trim their toenails properly. Trim toenails in a fairly straight line, and don’t cut them too short. Second, make sure cleats fit properly.

“A child’s shoe size can change within a single soccer season,” Dr. Asef reminds parents.

If a child develops a painful ingrown toenail, soaking their foot in room-temperature water and gently massaging the side of the nail fold can reduce the inflammation. But Dr. Asef warns parents against home treatments, which can be dangerous. The American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons lists myths about ingrown toenail home treatments on its Web site, FootHealthFacts.org.

“If your son’s or daughter’s ingrown toenails show signs of infection, it’s definitely time to seek medical care,” says Dr. Asef.

A foot and ankle surgeon like Dr. Asef can remove a child’s ingrown toenail, and prevent it from returning, with a simple, 10-minute surgical procedure. During the short procedure, the doctor numbs the toe and removes the ingrown portion of the nail. Various techniques can permanently remove part of a nail’s root too, preventing it from growing back.

“Most children experience very little pain afterwards,” says Dr. Asef, “and can resume normal activity the next day.”

For more information on ingrown toenails and other pediatric foot problems, contact Dr. Asef’s office at 440-953-3668 or MySolePerfection.com.

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Diabetes Patients Urged To Take Simple Precautions To Help Save Their Feet

Taking a minute or two every day to inspect your feet and observing a few simple rules can make the difference in sparing diabetes patients from a preventable outcome of the disease – a foot amputation.

“Of all diabetes-related complications, a serious foot ulcer and subsequent amputation might be the most preventable with proper care and vigilance in checking the feet at least once a day for small cuts and other abrasions,” says Atta J. Asef, DPM, FACFAS, a member of the American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons (ACFAS).  “Even those with good control of their blood sugar can experience foot ulcers, especially if neuropathy, a frequent diabetes complication, has caused decreased feeling on the bottom of their feet.”

Loss of sensation inhibits the body’s normal pain response. As a result, walking can apply repetitive, unfelt pressure to a wound, making it larger and deeper. Left untreated, diabetic ulcers lead to serious infections, which may result in amputation.

Dr. Asef says foot and ankle surgeons use a variety of surgical and non-surgical methods to heal diabetic ulcers, but stressed early intervention yields the most favorable outcomes.

“Daily self exams are the best protection. Too often, patients fail to check their feet for small cuts or punctures that over time will ulcerate and become infected,” He says. “If you have diabetes and see anything suspicious on your feet, consult a foot and ankle surgeon for diagnosis and treatment. Even a few days can make a difference in preventing serious foot problems from developing.”

An estimated seven in 10 diabetes patients have nerve damage that impairs feeling in their feet. Fifteen percent eventually will develop a foot ulcer. Among those with ulcers, one in four will lose a foot. Each year more than 86,000 amputations are performed as a direct result of diabetes, and studies show half of those who have one foot or leg amputated will lose the other within five years. Proper diabetic foot care, says Dr. Asef, prevents foot loss.

In some cases, amputation might be the preferred option. If vascular and podiatric surgeries can’t improve blood circulation and foot function, resolve infection or restore foot function, amputation may be the only solution that enables the patient to heal. Today, advances in prosthetics make it possible for patients to return to an active lifestyle, a necessity for keeping diabetes under control.

Foot problems are not an inevitable consequence of diabetes. The risk can be lessened significantly by following a few simple precautions:

  • Keep your blood sugar under control to help minimize cardiovascular and blood circulation problems
  • Lose weight, don’t smoke and adhere to prescribed dietary, medication and exercise regime   At least once a day, examine your feet for cuts and other small wounds you may not feel
  • Never walk barefoot, outdoors and indoors
  • Cut nails carefully – straight across and not too short; never trim corns and calluses yourself
  • Wash your feet every day in lukewarm water; dry carefully
  • Choose comfortable shoes with adequate room for the toes
  • Wear clean, dry, non-bulky socks; change daily
  • Shake pebbles or bits of gravel out of your shoes before wearing
  • Seek treatment from a foot and ankle surgeon if minor cuts and sore spots don’t seem to be healing

If you are suffering from diabetic foot issues, the podiatrists’ at North Eastern Ohio Podiatry Group, LLC can help provide the best treatment options for your condition.

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Pedicure No No’s

  • Resist the urge to shave your legs before receiving a pedicure. Freshly shaven legs or small cuts on your legs may allow bacteria to enter.
  • If you are receiving a pedicure and manicure, don’t use the same tools for both services as bacteria and fungus can transfer between fingers and toes.
  • Don’t round the edges of your toenails. This type of shape increases the chances that painful ingrown toenails will develop.
  • Emery boards are extremely porous and can trap germs that spread. Since they can’t be sterilized, don’t share nail files with friends and be sure to bring your own to the salon, unless you are sure that the salon replaces them with each customer.
  • Don’t use any sharp tools to clean under nails. Using anything sharp makes it easy to puncture the skin, leaving it vulnerable to infection.
  • Be sure that you don’t leave any moisture between toes. Anything left behind can promote the development of athlete’s foot or a fungal infection.
  • Because cuticles serve as a protective barrier against bacteria, don’t ever cut them. Cutting cuticles increases the risk of infection. Also, avoid incessantly pushing back cuticles, as doing so can make them thicker.
  • If you suffer from thick and discolored toenails, which could be a sign of a fungal infection, don’t apply nail polish to cover up the problem. Nail polish locks out moisture and doesn’t allow the nail bed to “breathe.” Once you fix the underlying issue, then it is safe to paint nails. If the problem persists, be sure to visit your podiatrist.

If you are suffering from toenail problems, the podiatrists’ at North Eastern Ohio Podiatry Group, LLC can help provide the best treatment options for your condition.

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FIVE Tips for Avoiding Falls on the Ice

Winter is here with its frigid temperatures, howling winds and snowy, icy conditions.  Falls on icy surfaces are a major cause of ankle sprains and fractures. Following are some tips to keep you safe this winter season.

  • Wear low-heeled boots or overshoes with good traction.  High-heeled boots may be in style, but for walking on snow and ice it’s best to forego fashion in favor of safety.
  • Watch for ice and snow: Holiday winter wonderlands can be beautiful but also dangerous—watch for ice or snow patches along your trail. The ankle joint can be more vulnerable to serious injury from falling on ice as it accelerates the fall and often causes more severe trauma since the foot can move in any direction after it slips.
  • As soon as you get inside, remove your boots or dry them well. Snow and ice can remain on shoes, leading to falls indoors.
  • If you do experience a fall or injury, call a podiatrist for prompt evaluation and treatment. Use R.I.C.E. therapy (Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation) to help reduce the pain and control swelling around the injury in the meantime.
  • Falls happen quickly. On average less than two seconds elapse between the beginning and end of a fall, so be aware of what you can do to protect yourself in that time. If you fall on an icy spot and hurt your ankle, the best advice is to seek medical attention immediately to aid in early diagnosis and proper treatment and reduce the risk of further damage.

If you suffer from an injury to your foot or ankle, the podiatrists’ at North Eastern Ohio Podiatry Group, LLC can help provide the best treatment options for your condition.

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A Handy Guide To Prepare You For Your Appointment With Your Podiatrist

Is this the first time you have visited a podiatrist? Don’t worry. This handy guide will prepare you for your appointment and help make the most of your time with the foot and ankle expert.

Before Your Visit:

Make a list of your symptoms and questions. Make a list of all medications and any previous surgeries. Gather and bring important medical records and laboratory test reports from other doctors or hospitals (including X-rays, MRIs, and lab results).  Check with your insurance provider to see if a referral is needed.  Call before your visit to tell the office if you have special needs. Bring a friend or family member if you think it will be helpful. If your problem involves walking and/or exercise, bring your walking/exercise shoes with you to the appointment.

During Your Visit:

Go over your list of questions. If you do not understand an answer, be sure to ask for further explanation. Take notes and listen carefully. Discuss your symptoms and any recent changes you may have noticed. Talk about all new medications. Ask why it has been prescribed, and how to take it. Describe any allergies. Tell your podiatrist if you are pregnant or if you are trying to get pregnant. Let your podiatrist know if you are being treated by other doctors.

Do you need to consult a Podiatrist?  North Eastern Ohio Podiatry Group, LLC can help provide the best treatment options for your condition.

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Program Promotes Balance To Help Prevent Falls Among Elderly

According to the National Council on Aging, an older adult is seen in an emergency room for a fall-related injury every 15 seconds. One in three older Americans falls each year, and falls are the leading cause of fatal and non-fatal injuries for people aged 65 and older.

Many falls among the elderly are related to bad balance caused, in part, by poor foot health. A special edition of the Journal of the American Podiatric Medical Association (JAPMA) explores a promising new virtual reality program designed to address these issues by improving balance and stability, helping to keep elderly patients on their feet.

The innovative virtual reality program uses wearable sensors that provide interactive visual feedback in real time.

The researchers have seen dramatic improvement among participants, diabetes patients with peripheral neuropathy. The exercises are done for 20 minutes, twice per week for four weeks. In that time period, researchers have seen balance improve more than 35 percent, and gait velocity and gait stability improve almost 20 percent.

JAPMA’s special issue on falls prevention also addresses some of the critical questions on the correlation between foot problems, footwear, and falls among older adults. The studies included in the special issue demonstrate multifaceted podiatry interventions that reduce the risk of falling, including lower extremity exercise, nonslip socks, special footwear, and surgical foot deformity correction.

If your balance is affected by foot and ankle issues, the podiatrists’ at North Eastern Ohio Podiatry Group, LLC can help provide the best treatment options for your condition.

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Sprained Ankles Are Very Common Injuries

Ankle sprains are very common injuries. There’s a good chance that while playing as a child or stepping on an uneven surface as an adult you sprained your ankle—some 25,000 people do it every day.

Sometimes, it is an awkward moment when you lose your balance, but the pain quickly fades away and you go on your way. But the sprain could be more severe; your ankle might swell and it might hurt too much to stand on it. If it’s a severe sprain, you might have felt a “pop” when the injury occurred.

A sprained ankle means one or more ligaments on the outer side of your ankle were stretched or torn. If a sprain is not treated properly, you could have long-term problems. Typically the ankle is rolled either inward (inversion sprain) or outward (eversion sprain). Inversion sprains cause pain along the outer side of the ankle and are the most common type. Pain along the inner side of the ankle may represent a more serious injury to the tendons or to the ligaments that support the arch and should always be evaluated by a doctor.

You’re most likely to sprain your ankle when you have your toes on the ground and heel up (plantar flexion). This position puts your ankle’s ligaments under tension, making them vulnerable. A sudden force like landing on an uneven surface may turn your ankle inward (inversion). When this happens, one, two or three of your ligaments may be hurt.

If you are suffering from a sprained ankle, the podiatrists’ at North Eastern Ohio Podiatry Group, LLC can help provide the best treatment options for your condition.

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