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McDowell Orthopedics & Podiatry Group Answers Questions about Feet

Can I run with a bunion? What are the non-surgical treatments for neuropathy? What is a podiatrist, anyway? Whatever your question, basic or complex, we can answer it. When it comes to feet, whatever your condition, simple or serious, we can treat it.  McDowell Orthopedics & Podiatry Group is your go-to source for information and expert foot care.

No question is too simple or too hard for us. If your concern is not listed here, call the McDowell Orthopedics & Podiatry Group at (916) 961-3434 or visit our office in Carmichael, California.

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  • How does poor blood flow affect my feet?

    Poor blood flow is often caused by a narrowing of arteries, which means that less oxygen is brought to your legs and feet. The loss of oxygen is troubling because proper flow supplies the tissues with nutrients to help your body heal itself and function normally.  

    Could you have peripheral arterial disease?Cuts and scrapes that seem like minor problems need to be taken more seriously, as they can take longer to heal and may develop into wounds. In fact, some of these problems may not heal unless they’re treated by a podiatrist, like Dr. McDowell or Dr. Gavin P. Ripp. If not properly cared for, those slow-healing wounds could develop into ulcers that may result in amputation. 

    Circulation problems in the feet and legs are often categorized as Peripheral Arterial Disease. We can help treat your condition at McDowell Orthopedics & Podiatry Group. Successful recovery from circulation problems usually require you to quit smoking, get more exercise, and manage your diabetes more closely. Please call us at (916) 961-3434 or drop by our office in Carmichael, CA, to schedule an appointment. We also serve Roseville, Rocklin, and the surrounding Sacramento area. 

  • What are Ultrasounds Used For?

    Ultrasounds are one of our diagnostic tools that help us to determine the extent of soft tissue injuries like Morton’s neuroma, heel pain, plantar fasciitis, tarsal tunnel syndrome, and tendonitis. The soft tissue includes muscles, ligaments, tendons, and cartilage.

    In this painless test, sound waves are transmitted into the body, bounced back, and recorded—all through a probe. If the object has a higher density, the image that appears will be bright white. If the examined tissue has less density, the image will appear gray.

    We may opt to use ultrasound because it can be used on almost anyone. If you’re pregnant or have a pacemaker, you can have an ultrasound as opposed to an MRI or CT scan. Also, an ultrasound does not produce radiation like an X-ray or CT scan.

    If you have more questions about diagnostics, feel free to ask our expert staff at McDowell Orthopedics & Podiatry Group. You can call our office at (916) 961-3434 to make an appointment. We’re also on Facebook and Pinterest!

  • Why do my heels hurt in the morning?

    If your heels hurt in the morning, you may have a condition called plantar fasciitis—the most common kind of heel pain. When you put too much pressure on your plantar fascia—the tissue that runs from heel to toe along the arch of your foot—tiny tears can form in the tissue as a result of the stress. This creates pain and inflammation.

    When you’re resting the foot, these tears try to repair themselves. However, when you take a step, you only reinjure the area by stretching out the tissue again. Often, these symptoms are felt when you first step out of bed in morning or stand up after sitting down for a long period of time.

    People with this type of pain also experience dull or sharp pain, stiffness in the heel, and a burning feeling on the bottom of their feet that radiates into the back of their foot.  

    If you feel this type of pain in your heel, it’s best to get early treatment. Make an appointment at the McDowell Orthopedics & Podiatry Group in Carmichael, CA, by calling 916) 961-3434.

  • Why am I losing my balance?

    You could be losing balance because of peripheral neuropathy in your feet. One of the main symptoms of this condition is the loss of feeling and numbness, which can make it harder to sense the placement of your feet when you start walking. You may feel more uncoordinated than normal.

    Also, you might develop a wider walking stance without even knowing it just to compensate for this lack of feeling. You may even drag or trip over your own feet.

    The symptoms of neuropathy can start as a tingling or burning sensation but can develop into very serious symptoms with painful consequences. Our office has a special clinic, called the Foot and Ankle Centers for the Care of Neuropathy, just to reduce and lessen the symptoms of this condition. This way, you can take care of your balance problems too!

    When you start experiencing these symptoms, make an appointment with Dr. Brian McDowell or Dr. Tracy L. Basso at the McDowell Orthopedics & Podiatry Group. Our Carmichael office, which also serves Roseville and the greater Sacramento area, can be reached at (916) 961-3434 and found on Facebook and Twitter!

  • Should I be Driving with Numb Feet?

    When you have advanced peripheral neuropathy in your feet, it’s impossible to feel the brake or acceleration pedal when you drive, which can be a very scary feeling. This might cause you to brake too soon or accelerate too fast. We know you’re not a bad driver, you’re just unsure of how much pressure to place on the foot pedals. If this is the case, should you really be driving with numb feet?

    There hasn’t been enough research for doctors to give formal recommendations, but you should definitely seek treatment for your numbness when it gets this bad.

    When it comes to neuropathy, we always say there’s nobody that does what we do. Our treatments are administered by expertly trained podiatrists who can resolve the neuropathy causing this numbness and tingling—truly. We can also refer you to driving rehabilitation specialists who fit you with adaptive devices, including hand controls and pedal modifications, to better control your car when you’re at the wheel. 

    Drive safely. Call the Foot and Ankle Centers for the Care of Neuropathy, located at McDowell Orthopedics & Podiatry Group in Carmichael, CA. Dial (916) 961-3434 today to make an appointment with Dr. Brian McDowell or Dr. Tracy L. Basso.

  • What is the Cause of my Inside Ankle Pain?

    If you are feeling tingling, burning, numbness, and shooting ankle pain that is similar to an electric shock, you may be experiencing tarsal tunnel syndrome. This set of symptoms appear when there’s a compression of the posterior tibial nerve that runs along the inside of the ankle. For this condition, it is important to see a doctor as soon as you notice the symptoms. If left untreated, tarsal tunnel syndrome can create permanent nerve damage.

    Find out what is causing pain to the inside of your ankle.It’s also possible that you have torn or inflamed your posterior tibial tendon. In this case, you could experience pain on the inside of your foot that gets worse with activities like running. You may also have pain on the outside of the ankle and notice a fallen arch on the affected foot. To initially treat posterior tibial tendon dysfunction, rest from activities, ice your foot, and make an appointment with a doctor.

    There are many reasons for pain on the inside of your ankle—including deltoid ligament sprains, synovitis, and stress fractures. See Dr. Brian McDowell as soon as you can to make sure you have the right diagnosis. The McDowell Orthopedics & Podiatry Group can be reached in Carmichael, CA, at (916) 961-3434.

  • How do I treat a neuroma?

    First and foremost, we will need to determine how much your symptoms have progressed to treat a neuroma. For mild symptoms, you can place an ice pack on the painful area to reduce swelling. We also might suggest that you place some padding under your toes, which will take pressure off the area when you walk. Make sure you lay off the activities that irritate the neuroma. Avoid high heels and narrow-toed footwear—invest in shoes with wide toe boxes.

    Check out these different options for treating neuromas.Orthotics are an option for those with more intense pain. With our help, you can get a custom-designed pair of devices that fit the exact shape of your foot and offload pressure from the nerves near the toes. At this stage, we might recommend that you try anti-inflammatory pain relievers and injection therapy.

    Neuroma surgery may be an option if conservative treatments don’t work—and you are in good hands. McDowell Orthopedics & Podiatry Group is expertly trained in this field. In fact, Dr. Brian McDowell is a Fellow in the Association of Extremity Nerve Surgeons, which is an elite group of doctors that specifically focuses on nerve surgery. Call our office in Carmichael, CA, at (916) 961-3434 to schedule an appointment! 

  • Why do those with diabetes need special diabetic socks?

    When you have diabetes, you can benefit from special socks if you have problems with your feet, including neuropathy and circulation issues. If you don’t have these problems, you can wear whatever socks you want, as long as they breathe well, and are not constricting your feet in any way. However, diabetic socks offer peace of mind and comfort with features like these:

    Weave: Some regular socks are too tightly woven at the opening, which could constrict blood flow in the legs. Special socks made for those with diabetes usually have a larger weave that fits around the ankle and the calf to reduce tightness.

    Material: They are also made of anti-microbial, anti-fungal, acrylic material that wicks moisture and prohibits the growth of bacteria. They are padded for protection too, and sewn without seams to reduce friction or irritation that could create blisters.

    Color: Diabetic socks are light-colored as well, which can help people detect any bleeding or discharge from wounds on the feet.

    Call the McDowell Orthopedics & Podiatry Group at (916) 961-3434 to reach our office in Carmichael, which also houses the Foot and Ankle Centers for the Care of Neuropathy. We can treat your diabetic feet in a jiffy! 

  • How do I care for a foot ulcer?

    Seek treatment from a medical professional as soon as an ulcer is noticed. Prompt foot ulcer care is important to reduce the risk of infection and chance of amputation.

    Due to spikes in blood sugar, people with diabetes often have nerve damage in their feet. This can keep you from feeling cuts and sores that may lead to ulcers. The condition also slows the circulation of blood in the legs, leading to longer healing times and an increased risk for infection.

    When you come to us with an ulcer, we will clean it by removing dead skin and tissue. Then, we’ll wrap the medicated wound. We will also have you take pressure off of the limb by asking you to use crutches, a wheelchair, or a special shoe.  

    For home care, make sure your blood sugar levels are strictly controlled. Keep the wound clean, bandaged, and moist. Avoid walking on the affected limb, too.

    If Dr. Brian McDowell or Dr. Tracy L. Basso notices the beginnings of an infection, you may be hospitalized and administered antibiotics. Please call the McDowell Orthopedics & Podiatry Group at (916) 961-3434. We offer same-day service for serious injuries that require prompt treatment.

  • Can I pop a blister?

    Popping a blister isn’t necessary if it’s not causing you pain. Eventually, the skin underneath the blister will grow and absorb the fluid-filled bubble on your foot.

    However, if the blister is so big or painful that you can’t walk, there’s a safe way to pop it and prevent infection. You should never pop a blister if you have diabetes or poor circulation—always consult your doctor in that case.

    First, wash your blister and hands with soap and water. Puncture a small hole on the side of the blister with a needle, sterilized by rubbing alcohol. Gently drain the fluid by squeezing or pressing on the area.

    Don’t take the skin off! Apply some antibiotic cream over the patch and cover with a Band-Aid. After a few days, the skin on top should dry up. You can remove this with a sterilized tweezers or scissors.

    If you experience symptoms of pain, redness, warm skin, or discharge from the area, please call the McDowell Orthopedics & Podiatry Group at (916) 961-3434 so we can clean up the infection.  

  • What causes tendonitis?

    If you cross your eyes for too long, they’ll stay that way. I’m sure we all remember our parents reminding us of this wives’ tale. Well, it wasn’t true, but the same thing can’t be said for your feet when it comes to repetitive activity. If you’re putting continuous stress and impact on certain areas of your foot, you might just end up irritating the tendons that attach your bone to the muscle. Repetitious activities like running, pitching, gardening, raking, and shoveling are some causes of tendonitis.

    As you age, your tendons also tend to deteriorate, which puts you at a higher risk for this condition. With older age also comes other conditions that can irritate your tendons, those being rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, gout, and side effects of certain medications.

    Athletes often suffer this problem but you can also experience pain if you’re a “weekend warrior.” Sudden increases in activity levels, or infrequent exercise, can cause your tendons to overstretch and tear. It can be something as simple as walking more than you’re used to or helping someone move that triggers injury.

    Whatever the cause, call McDowell Orthopedics & Podiatry Group, (916) 961-3434, for help with your inflamed tendons. 

  • When should you replace your running shoes?

    Generally, you should replace your running shoes around every 300 to 500 miles. However, that’s a tricky rule of thumb if you don’t track mileage! To help you more specifically decide on when to change, examine how your feet feel during a run. Follow your gut: You’ll know you need a new pair if you feel unstable when you take a stride. Track these feelings of instability for a week, just to make sure it’s consistent, before you go out and buy new shoes.

    Then, look at the sole. If it looks crushed or the rubber on the bottom is worn down to the midsole of the shoe, you’re long overdue for a new pair. You might wear down the heels faster than others, which means you strike your heels hard when you run and wear out the back of the shoe. Harder surfaces are—you guessed it—harder on shoes. This causes them to wear out faster. Another good indication you need a replacement is when you bend the shoe and the middle bends in half.

    Don’t risk injuries by running in worn-out shoes. If you need help, the McDowell Orthopedics & Podiatry Group, (916) 961-3434, can treat and prevent more issues. 

  • How do I start working out if I’m overweight?

    Start Small When Working OutTwo words: start small. People who are overweight or obese put a lot of stress and pressure on their feet. Working out when you’re overweight only exacerbates that stress, which puts you at a higher risk for injury.

    To begin, use machines like ellipticals, workout bikes, and treadmills that will help you move, but also take some of the impact off of your joints. Other low-impact exercises like swimming and riding your bike can help you lose weight safely.

    Wear and tear problems like arthritis, tendonitis, and heel pain can happen more easily when you start a new workout routine—especially if you push too hard. Set realistic goals for yourself. Maybe your first “step” will be making arm circles once every day for 5 minutes. At least this is an activity that you can do without any pain in your lower limbs. A 15-minute walk around the block is a good way to get your blood pumping, even if you have to break it up into 5-minute spurts of activity.

    Stay on track with these tips and your weight loss will be a breeze. At the slightest hint of foot pain, call McDowell Orthopedics & Podiatry Group at (916) 961-3434.

  • Is yoga good for my feet?

    Yoga and feet go together well! And not just that—yoga and your back, hips, and knees also go together, too! Foot pain often creates problems that radiate into those areas, so it’s very beneficial to consider joining a class or practicing at home.

    It’s also a good exercise because it’s low impact. Activities like running put a lot of repetitive pressure your feet, which can aggravate problems. Whether you’re looking for a less stressful exercise or rehabbing from an injury, yoga is a good place to start.

    The ancient Indian practice can also serve as an activity for someone recovering from a broken foot. You can easily modify the poses according to your ability and strength. This means that you can slowly increase joint flexibility at a pace where you don’t put any extra strain on your feet.

    People with arthritis, as well as those suffering from bunions, can also find that this meditative practice soothes the aching in their stiff joints.

    Anyone looking for more advice on foot exercises should follow McDowell Orthopedics & Podiatry Group on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and Pinterest. If you need to make an appointment, call our office in Carmichael, CA, at (916) 961-3434.

  • How can I strengthen my ankles?

    The best ankle strengthening exercises to practice after an injury involve movements where you push against something rather than use resistance, like an exercise band. That requires more range of motion and ability to bear weight. Move up to more advanced exercises when you’ve conquered the basics.  

    To start off, try putting your ankle against the side of a couch, pointed down and inward. Hold for 10 seconds and repeat 10 times. Try the same thing, but point your ankle up and outward.

    Next, push down on an object for 10 seconds and repeat 10 times. Pull up on the object, hold for 10 seconds, and repeat 10 times.

    After you feel strong enough, try using the resistance band. Put the band behind the ball of your foot and pull toward yourself while pushing your forefoot against it. You can also tie the band to an object, loop it around the top of your foot, and pull toward you.

    These exercises are just one piece of the recovery puzzle. Visit McDowell Orthopedics & Podiatry Group in Carmichael, CA, by calling (916) 961-3434 to make an appointment with Dr. Brian McDowell and Dr. Gavin P. Ripp.

  • Should my child see a podiatrist?

    When you see something wrong with your child’s feet, you may scratch your head and think, “Should my child see a podiatrist?” You might just brush it off, assuming that they’ll grow out of it, only to watch them sprain an ankle, develop heel pain, and encounter shin splints later down the road.

    Injuries like the ones above, including Sever’s disease and stress fractures, can actually be prevented—and that’s why we say yes to this question. Your child needs to see a podiatrist, preferably in the form of a preventative foot exam.

    We can actually diagnose and foresee problems in your child’s feet, due to growth, obesity, and overuse. As your child’s foot grows, it puts them more at risk for certain conditions, such as flat feet.

    Depending on what we find, our treatment will involve a customized orthotic insert, advice on proper footwear, hands-on therapy, and other important information to help you treat and prevent the symptoms.

    You should always see a podiatrist if your child is experiencing foot pain. Call the McDowell Orthopedics & Podiatry Group at (916) 961-3434 to schedule a foot exam today.

  • Why do your feet swell during pregnancy?

    Having swollen feet during pregnancy is a very common, albeit embarrassing, phenomenon. The swelling is also known as edema. Here’s how it works: Your body takes on more fluid when you’re pregnant in order to nourish the baby and yourself. That excess fluid shows up in your tissues and is more visible in your ankles and feet, due to gravity.

    Your lower limbs also tend to puff up from the excess pressure of your uterus on the veins that carry blood from your legs and feet back to your heart.

    Women usually experience swollen feet or ankles during their third trimester. They will be the most swollen at the end of the day and during the summer, when it’s the hottest.

    Some swelling is normal, but if you notice prolonged swelling that’s causing pain in your calf or thigh, you should see a doctor. If you liked our information, maybe you should like us on Facebook, too! The McDowell Orthopedics & Podiatry Group, (916) 961-3434, serves the community of Carmichael, CA, and the surrounding Sacramento area.   

  • Can tendonitis and bursitis be prevented?

    Yes, you can prevent tendonitis and bursitis by warming up before you exercise, which will prevent the swelling around the tissues, tendons, and bones in your heel and ankle that happen with both of these conditions. These stretches will also make the tendons more flexible and the muscles stronger.

    Both of these conditions cause pain, inflammation, and swelling. Tendonitis usually occurs from overuse or an injury to the Achilles tendon. Bursitis is usually caused by overusing a joint or sustaining a direct trauma to the area.  

    Switch up your exercise routine and avoid repetitive activities like running. If you have to perform repetitive tasks, take breaks to avoid overuse of the tendons and joints.  Don’t be afraid to change her routine as far as exercise is concerned.  Sometimes it is very helpful to alter your workout program every three weeks.  Muscles become very efficient after a certain period of time and one does not get the significant benefit as they did in the very beginning.  Also it prevents overuse and problems developing such as tendinitis, etc.

    If you’re going to start a new activity, like speed and high-intensity training, start slowly and work your way up to the hardest drills.

    If you’ve already suffered a bout of tendonitis, Dr. Brian McDowell and Dr. Gavin P. Ripp can assist you with custom-made orthotics to make sure the condition doesn’t pop up again. Call our office in Carmichael, CA, at (916) 961-3434 to make an appointment. 

  • Are flip-flops bad for your feet?

    Yes, flip-flops are bad for your feet, but only if they’re worn excessively. Sometimes, these summertime staples can help protect against fungal infections and hot sand on the beach. However, they should only be worn for an hour or two and should never be worn hiking, running, playing sports, or operating equipment.  

    They offer no arch support, which can aggravate problems for people with high arches and flat feet. You can develop plantar fasciitis and a sprained ankle if you overuse this style of flimsy footwear.

    Your toes also take a beating. The constant gripping onto the front of the shoes can lead to tendonitis, hammertoes, and even bunions.

    Cushioning is another feature they lack. This means that your feet have to absorb most of the shock from the repetitive motion of your foot hitting the ground. Stress fractures in the foot bones could be in your near future.

    The constant rubbing can also create burning, raw skin, and blisters on the bottom of your foot and between your toes.  Many people develop heel fissures which are due to wearing open heeled shoes.  This type of shoe or flip-flop has a tendency to dry the skin out because you will lose your normal body oils and perspiration.  Heel fissures can become infected and consequently become very disabling.

    Let us help you find a better pair of shoes. McDowell Orthopedics & Podiatry Group can even prescribe custom orthotics to fix problems caused by this sandal. Call (916) 961-3434 today.

  • How do I get rid of a foot cramp?

    Cramps in your feet are involuntary spasms of your muscles that can happen suddenly. Massage is one way you can help get rid of a foot cramp. Rubbing the area eases tension and brings more blood flow to the tight, stiff, painful muscle.

    Next, try straightening out your leg and pointing your toes towards you. You can hold that position until the cramp goes away in a few minutes.

    If you’re still dealing with the inflammation and soreness that comes with the aftershock, try taking a warm bath or shower. Ice or heat applied directly to the area can also soothe your aching foot.

    To prevent another cramp just as worse as the first, drink plenty of water and eat foods high in vitamins, since dehydration and nutrition deficiency can be a cause. Also, make sure you stretch before your next exercise. Cramps are sometimes a response to a sudden increase in activity without proper preparation.

    The only time you need to be seriously worried about muscle cramps is if they’re happening for no reason or if you get them frequently. If that’s the case, call the McDowell Orthopedics & Podiatry Group at (916) 961-3434.