Hot weather, new adventures, and new shoe styles make for a lot of fun this summer, and a few new considerations for your feet.
Summertime, and the livin’ is easy–as long as you follow these tips to keep your feet happy, healthy, and safe!
Happy Feet at the Beach
Who doesn’t love the idea of blue skies, blue water, and a beach towel? Count us in! And while you’re soaking up those sunrays (with SPF 30, of course!) remember to keep your feet feeling fine at the beach by doing the following:
- Remember that sand can reach temperatures of 120-130 degrees, when the weather is very hot. Second-degree burns can occur very quickly, so protect your feet (and your kids’ feet!) on warm days
- Speaking of the sun, don’t forget to apply sunscreen to your feet and toes! Many people forget these areas, but they need protection as much as the rest of your exposed skin.
- Keep an eye out for hazards like broken glass, sharp rocks, and shells that can easy cause a cut. Play it safe, and wear water shoes or sandals.
- Have plantar fasciitis or need extra support, but want to enjoy the feel of going barefoot? Use a barefoot wrap that gives you the support you need while letting your toes wiggle free.
Healthy Feet On the Trail
Planning on doing some hiking or trail running this summer? There’s nothing quite like the experiencing of taking a walk or jog through nature on a beautiful summer day. Just remember these tips to stay safe on the trail:
- Blisters are one of the most common trail injuries to the feet. These painful and irritating injuries are the result of friction, moisture, and pressure and are a likely result of ill-fitting footwear and socks that don’t breathe well. Wear moisture-wicking socks like wool or synthetic blends instead of cotton, and make sure your shoes are light, supportive, and the correct size.
- Rolled ankles or sprains are another common trail injury–and another good reason to make sure your shoes support your heel and ankle! Shoes that don’t slip and slide will give you much greater stability on uneven terrain.
- Long hikes are great for the soul, but can take a real toll on your soles! Particularly if you have plantar fasciitis. Use orthotic inserts to give your arch support and cushioning on the trail.
Safe Feet in the Heat
The truth is, our feet don’t always love the heat. Higher temperatures can mean sweat (and accompanying odor!); dry, cracked feet; and less-than-supportive footwear. But never fear! Your feet will embrace the heat if you remember these tips:
- In addition to moisture-wicking socks and light shoes, you can avoid sweat and odor by applying foot powder to keep your feet fresh and dry.
- To avoid dry, cracked feet in the heat keep your feet moisturized, and make sure to drink plenty of water throughout the day.
- Have your strappy sandals and your support too! Cute summer shoes aren’t always the most supportive. But by pairing summer sandals with supportive, nude heel wraps you can have the best of both worlds!
Whether you plan to spend the summer on the trail, at the beach, or simply enjoying the longer days and warmer weather from your own neighborhood, keeping your feet happy and healthy with a few smart precautions will help you have a safe, enjoyable summer!
First, the good news: 90% of plantar fasciitis cases can be successfully resolved with simple, at-home treatments.
What’s the bad news? The longer plantar fasciitis goes unaddressed, the longer the healing process takes and the more potential complications that may arise. Not allowing your arch enough rest time after an injury, continuing to participate in high-impact activities without proper footwear or support, and failing to follow through with at-home treatments are the most common ways plantar fasciitis persists and gets worse.
What are the risks for leaving plantar fasciitis untreated? And what other complications can arise as plantar fasciitis gets worse?
Over time, if plantar fasciitis is left untreated, the inflammation and stress to the plantar fascia can result in small tears. You may not be aware of the moment these small tears appear, however you will notice your pain level worsen gradually. If these tears are left unaddressed, they may grow in size and number, and make the plantar fascia more vulnerable to rupture and debilitation.
Plantar rupture can occur if plantar fasciitis is not addressed, and an individual continues to participate in activities that place a great deal of impact on the plantar fascia. These activities could include jogging, sports, or even standing for long periods of time in ill-fitting footwear.
Symptoms of plantar fascia rupture usually include a loud popping sound, followed by intense pain, bruising, and swelling in the foot. Putting weight on the affected foot will be very painful. If you suspect plantar rupture, you should seek medical help immediately. You will likely be required to wear a boot or crutches for a period of time after a ruptured plantar fascia.
Plantar fibromatosis is a condition in which benign, slow-growing nodules form along the plantar fascia. The nodules often grow slowly and undetected, followed by sudden, rapid growth. As time passes and the nodules grow, walking may become uncomfortable or painful.
While many cases of plantar fibromatosis are believed to be triggered by genetics, these is a correlation between individuals with plantar fasciitis and individuals with plantar fibromatosis. Some researchers believe that plantar fibromatosis can be triggered by a tear in the fascia that is left untreated.
Heel spurs are one of the most common consequences of leaving plantar fasciitis untreated. In an attempt to protect the arch of your foot and mitigate damage, your body sends an army of cells to the site of the problem, which begin depositing calcium. Over time, these deposits can build up into sharp protrusions that dig into the fatty pad of the heel and cause a great deal of pain with each step.
Heel spurs can build up over several months’ time without causing pain. In other words, allowing plantar fasciitis to go untreated may mean that a secondary problem brews unnoticed–until another source of sharp pain appears.
Recognizing the symptoms of plantar fasciitis and treating this condition early is the best way to avoid secondary problems and complications. Think of the pain from developing plantar fasciitis as a warning, encouraging you to address the problem at hand before more damage occurs. Stretching, icing, and using special orthotic inserts are all effective ways to curb the damage from plantar fasciitis and begin healing.
Heel spurs: Think of them as the great whites of the feet. Stealthy, with a sharp little fin that can surface and cause a lot of pain and damage.
What do we really know about this painful condition that can lurk below the surface of your feet?
We’ve compiled some of the most interesting facts and statistics about heel spurs to help you learn what they’re really all about. Because, like great whites, they’re a lot easier to handle, coexist with, and avoid when you understand a little more about them!
1. Morning Pain, Explained
If you have plantar fasciitis, you’re all too familiar with morning pain–those first excruciating steps after getting out of bed. Why? Heel spurs are often enemy #1 as they dig into already-tender tissue for the first time after a period of inactivity.
2. Older, Wiser, and … More Heel Spurs
Studies across the board reveal that heel spurs are far more common in both men and women as they age. Large heel spurs are much more prevalent in people who are older than 40.
3. Heel Spurs Don’t Always Cause Pain
Approximately 38 percent of the population has a heel spur–but many don’t even know it! One study that spanned 45 years found that that heel spurs weren’t ever the cause of pain for many people who had them.
4. Heel Spurs and Plantar Fasciitis?
While heel spurs and plantar fasciitis don’t always go hand in hand, About 70 percent of people with plantar fasciitis do have painful heel spurs. It’s thought that the body creates heel spurs as a protective measure in response to damage to the plantar fascia.
5. Misguided Protection
Interestingly enough, researchers believe that heel spurs are actually the body’s attempt to protect the plantar fascia and other tissue from damage and strain. When damage occurs, cells are called to the area and begin depositing calcium. Over time, these deposits can build up into sharp protrusions that hurt, not help.
6. All Kinds of Spurs
Heel spurs form on the bottom of the heel, while bone spurs caused by Achilles tendonitis form along the back of the heel. Despite the fact that these conditions are different, studies have found a moderate correlation between them.
7. Luck Be a Lady
Ladies aren’t so lucky when it comes to heel spurs. Studies find that women are more likely to develop heel spurs than men. Why? Some have theorized that it’s because of the types of shoes women are more likely to wear, which can damage the plantar fascia and cause heel spurs.
8. The Connection Between Heel Spurs and Osteoarthritis
Heel spurs are also more common in individuals with Osteoarthritis, the most common form of arthritis. This degenerative condition erodes away the cartilage at the joints. As the body scrambles to compensate for the loss of cartilage, it may develop painful bone spurs
9. Weight and Heel Spurs
There’s also a connection between individuals who are overweight and the development of heel spurs. Since more weight means more impact and strain to the arches of the feet and the tissue of the heel, damage is more likely as well–which can trigger the onset of heel spurs.
10. Hope for Recovery
The good news is that 90 percent of people who experience painful heel spurs are able to recover without surgical intervention, by changing their footwear, addressing causes like plantar fasciitis using orthotic inserts, and even taking supplements that help the body more effectively use nutrients and minerals.
While heel spurs can still be an unsettling and painful condition, the more you know about their causes, symptoms, and treatment, the more equipped you’ll be to manage them!
Plantar fibromatosis, also known as Ledderhose’s disease, is a condition that causes benign, slow-growing nodules to form along the fascia of the foot.
The nodules may grow slowly, undetected for months or even years at a time, followed by sudden, rapid growth. As time passes and the nodules grow, walking may become uncomfortable or painful.
While this condition sounds scary, it is relatively rare, and the nodules are almost never malignant. How will you know if the symptoms you’re experiencing are plantar fibromatosis? What causes this condition? Is plantar fibromatosis related to plantar fasciitis? And what are your options for treatment if you are diagnosed with plantar fibromatosis?
Here’s what you need to know:
Plantar Fasciitis vs. Plantar Fibromatosis
While both plantar fasciitis and plantar fibromatosis revolve around the fascia of your feet, the causes of the two conditions are typically considered to be very different. Plantar fasciitis is caused by overuse and trauma to the arch of the foot, while researchers believe that the primary cause of plantar fibromatosis is rooted in genetics.
While there are some researchers who believe that plantar fibromatosis can be triggered by the body’s healing response to a tear in the fascia–a possible connection to plantar fasciitis–this link has not been proven. It is, however, just one more good reason to take good care of your arches!
Regardless, it is possible to have both plantar fasciitis and plantar fibromatosis at the same time. And, depending on the location and severity of the nodules caused by plantar fibromatosis, orthotic inserts that lift, cushion, and support the arch of the foot may be an effective, non-surgical way to make walking and physical activity more comfortable.
Causes of Plantar Fibromatosis
Researchers are still working to understand the exact cause of plantar fibromatosis, but the general consensus is that the condition is genetically inherited. In other words, if someone in your family has this condition, you’ll want to pay special attention to the symptoms listed below. As with many genetic disorders, the genes for plantar fibromatosis can be influenced by a number of factors which increase the likelihood that you’ll develop this condition.
Risk factors for plantar fibromatosis may include alcoholism, smoking, and chronic stress to the feet. There also appears to be a connection between plantar fibromatosis and epilepsy, thyroid conditions, palmar fibromatosis (a condition affects the connective tissue in the hands), and diabetes. Men develop plantar fibromatosis more often than women.
Symptoms of Plantar Fibromatosis
Because the nodules from plantar fibromatosis develop so slowly–and may event stop growing altogether and become dormant for months and years–many people aren’t aware that they have this condition for many years.
Usually, the first symptom is a small, painless lump on the sole of the foot. In most cases, this lump appears that the highest part of the arch. Walking or physical activity may become uncomfortable of painful as the lump grows and rubs against your shoes or the ground as you walk.
Usually, you’ll only notice this lump in one foot. Only a small percentage of people who have plantar fibromatosis experience the condition in both feet at once.
Diagnosis and Treatment of Plantar Fibromatosis
If you notice symptoms that might indicate plantar fibromatosis, your doctor will likely recommend an MRI or sonogram as a first step. This will help you and your doctor see the extent of the plantar fibromatosis and determine next steps in treatment.
If the nodule(s) are small, your doctor will recommend that you avoid direct pressure, and may also recommend orthotic insoles that cushion and support your arch and relieve pressure to the nodules.
If conservative treatments aren’t effective, or if the nodules continue to cause pain while walking, your doctor may recommend radiotherapy to reduce the nodules’ size. The side effects of radiotherapy are minor, and this treatment has been shown to be approximately 80% effective (Panizzon & Seegenschmiedt, 2014).
Other non-surgical treatment options that you and your doctor may explore include cortisone injections and collagenase injections.
Surgery is usually recommended as a last resort, and only if the nodules cause unmanageable pain. Because the nodules are typically so closely situated to muscles, nerves, and tendons, it can be very difficult to remove all of the nodules. And any portion of the nodules that remain in the foot will continue to grow. Surgery also has a long recovery time and can be very costly.
There’s nothing more unsettling that discovering a lump on the foot. And while the symptoms of plantar fibromatosis can be disconcerting, the good news is that most cases can be managed effectively at home, without surgery. Recognizing the symptoms, understanding your options for treatment, and then working with your doctor to determine how to best manage this condition will help get you back on your feet and in control of your health.
What You Should Know About Treatments like Acid-A-Cal
It’s common sense that invasive medical procedures like surgery should be a last resort when it comes to treating plantar fasciitis or heel spurs.
But when it comes to evaluating the effectiveness–and safety–of alternative treatments, the internet can be both a wealth of information and an overwhelming slog through information that’s difficult to evaluate.
Enzymatic therapy to treat heel spurs, including the popular brand Acid-A-CalTM, is one of the latest popular alternative treatments for heel spurs. But how does it work? Is it worth the hype? What are the pros and cons for this new type of therapy?
Keep reading to find out!
Are Herbal Remedies for Heel Spurs Effective?
It’s worth noting that heel spurs and plantar fasciitis don’t develop in isolation. While the symptoms are localized to the heels and arch, these symptoms develop in reaction to processes throughout your entire body. Weight gain, improper gait, intense physical activity, and so forth can trickle down to problems in your feet and heels.
In other words, it only makes sense that herbal remedies such as enzymatic therapy, which influence how calcium is absorbed in your body, could be a potentially method for treating heel spurs.
How does Enzymatic Therapy Work?
Enzymatic therapy, in the form of herbal supplements like Acid-A-Cal, work to help your body absorb calcium more easily by regulating your body’s pH. The theory behind this treatment is that high alkalinity can make it far more difficult for your body to absorb calcium.
How does this help with heel spurs? Poor calcium absorption (which can occur even if you are taking calcium supplements, depending on your body’s pH and your ability to absorb it), can lead to brittle, porous, and weak bones–as well as heel spurs. Proper calcium absorption, along with silica and magnesium, can help your bones absorb calcium. This can also reduce the presence of heel spurs.
Pros of Enzymatic Therapy for Heel Spurs
There’s certainly plenty of anecdotal evidence advocating for enzymatic therapy treatments like Acid-A-Cal! A quick scan of reviews on Amazon.com will yield many positive reviews.
It’s important to remember that despite these excited reviewers, there isn’t conclusive evidence yet about how effective this therapy is. However, as far as potential benefits are concerned, enzymatic therapy has several:
First and foremost, enzymatic therapy is created to help people with calcium absorption problems (which can lead to the presence of worsening of heel spurs, with or without plantar fasciitis). Heel spurs can be made worse when the bones are weak and porous because of calcium deficiency. And by strengthening your bones through better calcium absorption, many people have found that their heel spurs improve as well.
Enzymatic therapies like Acid-A-Cal also aim to improve the pH-balance of your digestive system, which not only improves your ability to absorb calcium, but improves your absorption of other critical nutrients like magnesium and B-12. Enzymatic therapy can also help stave off osteoporosis.
Cons of Enzymatic Therapy for Heel Spurs
While enzymatic therapy may be helpful for some individuals with heel spurs, it isn’t likely to be helpful for everyone with heel spurs.
For two reasons. First, this type of therapy is only made to be helpful if you have a calcium absorption problem caused by an overly alkaline pH.
Second, heel spurs typically develop in response to plantar fasciitis, as the body’s response to a compromised and damaged arch. Without addressing the underlying problem of plantar fasciitis through orthotic inserts, rest, icing, and stretching, your heel pain will continue and likely get worse.
Other cons of using enzymatic therapy, including Acid-A-Cal, is the fact that many contain ammonium chloride. This is the same ingredient found on cough syrup, and can lead to complications such as kidney stones or acidosis in diabetics.
Is Enzymatic Therapy Right for You?
The decision of whether enzymatic therapy is right for you should be made with your doctor, and after careful research. It’s important to note that it’s very possible to improve your calcium absorption and increase your intake of helpful supplements like magnesium, without adding some of the potentially dangerous ingredients contained in some enzymatic therapies (such as ammonium chloride). All of these supplements can be purchased separately, over the counter.
Talk to your doctor about whether enzymatic therapy is right for you, and how much, if any, supplements you should be taking for strong bones.
And remember, if you have heel spurs as a result of plantar fasciitis, it’s important to treat the underlying disorder–not just the symptoms (aka, heel spurs!). Specialized orthotic inserts have been proven to be 90% effective in treating plantar fasciitis, and position the arch so that the main from heel spurs is drastically reduced or eliminated. Rest, icing, and stretching exercises are all tried and proven ways to improve the underlying condition of plantar fasciitis as well!