Monday, 13 May 2024 19:27

tozzoli-headshot.jpgPhysicians Footcare, the southeast's premier podiatry practice, is thrilled to announce the addition of Dr. Douglas Tozzoli, to our team of expert care providers at the Augusta, GA, location. 

Dr. Tozzoli earned his Doctorate in Podiatric Medicine at the New York College of Podiatric Medicine. As a board-certified podiatrist, he brings over 35 years of patient care experience from established private practices in both Allentown, PA, and Sante Fe, NM. His expertise lies in all aspects of Podiatry with an emphasis on geriatric, diabetic foot care, and wound care.

Outside of providing quality foot care relief for at-risk and senior patients, Dr. Tozzoli finds solace in his time on the golf course, as well as tending to his two horses and six dogs.

Tuesday, 02 April 2024 15:17

shutterstock_1611660088.jpgHammertoes are a common foot condition that can cause discomfort and affect mobility. Understanding what causes hammertoes and exploring treatment options is essential for managing this condition effectively.

In this comprehensive guide, we will delve into the causes of hammertoes, discuss potential complications, and explore various treatment options available to individuals dealing with this issue.

What Are Hammertoes?

Hammertoes, also known as contracted toes, are a deformity of the second, third, fourth, or fifth toes.

This condition occurs when the muscles and tendons in the toe become imbalanced, causing the toe to bend abnormally at the middle joint. Over time, hammertoes can become stiff and painful, causing chronic foot pain and making it difficult to walk and wear shoes comfortably.

What Causes Hammertoes?

Several factors can contribute to the development of hammertoes. One of the primary causes is wearing ill-fitting shoes that are too tight or narrow. High heels, in particular, can force the toes into a bent position, increasing the risk of hammertoes over time. Additionally, genetics play a role in predisposing individuals to this condition. If hammertoes run in your family, you may be more likely to develop them yourself.

Other risk factors for hammertoes include:

  • Foot Structure: Individuals with flat feet or high arches may be more prone to developing hammertoes due to the uneven distribution of weight on the feet.
  • Trauma: Injuries to the toe, such as stubbing or jamming, can lead to the development of hammertoes.
  • Arthritis: Certain types of arthritis, such as rheumatoid arthritis, can cause inflammation and joint deformities in the toes, contributing to hammertoe formation.

Hammertoes And Other Complications

While hammertoes themselves can be uncomfortable and bothersome, they can also lead to other complications if left untreated. One common complication associated with hammertoes is the development of Morton's neuroma.

Hammertoes and Morton's Neuroma

Morton's neuroma is a painful condition characterized by a thickening of the tissue around the nerves leading to the toes. This thickening can cause a sharp, burning pain in the ball of the foot, often described as feeling like there is a pebble or marble inside the shoe.

Hammertoes can contribute to the development of Morton's neuroma by altering the mechanics of the foot. When the toes are bent in a hammertoe position, it can increase pressure on the ball of the foot, compressing the nerves and leading to the formation of Morton's neuroma. Individuals with both hammertoes and Morton's neuroma may experience increased foot pain and discomfort, making it challenging to engage in daily activities.

Hammertoes and Chronic Foot Pain

Foot pain is a common symptom associated with hammertoes. The abnormal bending of the toes can cause friction and pressure against the inside of shoes, leading to discomfort and soreness. Additionally, hammertoes can alter the distribution of weight on the foot, putting extra strain on certain areas and causing pain with each step.

Individuals with hammertoes may experience foot pain not only when walking or standing, but also during rest periods. This constant discomfort can significantly impact quality of life and may interfere with activities of daily living. Frequent foot pain should be discussed with a podiatrist, as foot pain caused by hammertoes can be alleviated or reduced with appropriate treatment.

Treatment Options for Hammertoes

Fortunately, several treatment options are available for individuals dealing with hammertoes and associated foot pain. These treatments aim to alleviate symptoms, improve foot function, and prevent further progression of the condition.

Foot Orthotics

Foot orthotics, also known as shoe inserts or orthotic devices, can be beneficial for individuals with hammertoes. These devices are designed to provide support, cushioning, and proper alignment for the foot, reducing pressure on the toes and relieving foot pain. Foot orthotics can be customized to fit the unique shape of the foot, and may include features such as arch support and metatarsal pads to redistribute weight more evenly.

Using foot orthotics can help improve foot mechanics, reduce strain on the toes, and alleviate discomfort associated with hammertoes and Morton's neuroma. Additionally, foot orthotics can help prevent further progression of the condition by providing reinforced support and stability to the foot.

Metatarsal Pads and Splints

Metatarsal pads and splints are other non-invasive treatment options for hammertoes. Metatarsal pads are placed in the shoe to relieve pressure on the metatarsal heads and redistribute weight away from the affected toes. Splints, on the other hand, are worn at night to help straighten the toes and stretch the tight muscles and tendons.

These devices can help improve toe alignment, reduce foot pain, and prevent further deformity in individuals with hammertoes. They are often used in conjunction with other treatment modalities for optimal results.

Surgical Repair

In cases where conservative treatments fail to provide relief, surgery may be recommended to correct hammertoes. Surgical procedures for hammertoes typically involve releasing or lengthening the tight tendons and ligaments, straightening the toe joint, and removing any bony prominences.

Surgery can be an effective option for improving toe alignment and reducing foot pain in individuals with severe or persistent hammertoes. However, it is important to discuss the risks and benefits of surgery with a podiatrist and explore non-invasive treatment options before considering surgical intervention.

Physical Therapy

Physical therapy exercises and stretches can also be beneficial for individuals with hammertoes. These exercises are designed to strengthen the muscles in the foot and improve flexibility, helping to correct imbalances and alleviate foot pain.

Physical therapists can develop personalized exercise programs tailored to the individual needs of each patient, focusing on strengthening specific muscle groups and improving the range of motion in the toes and foot.

Treating Hammertoes

Hammertoes are a common foot condition that can cause discomfort and affect mobility. Understanding the causes of hammertoes, as well as potential complications such as Morton's neuroma and chronic foot pain, is essential for effective management. By exploring treatment options such as foot orthotics, metatarsal pads and splints, surgery, and physical therapy, you can find relief from symptoms and improve foot function, and continue to maintain an active and comfortable lifestyle.

If you’re suffering from hammertoes, consult with a qualified podiatrist to mitigate complications and pain. South Carolina and Georgia residents are encouraged to reach out to a Physicians Footcare expert for professional guidance through your healing process.

Tuesday, 02 April 2024 15:12

shutterstock_485451553.jpgFungal toenails, medically known as onychomycosis, are a common condition affecting millions worldwide. This stubborn infection not only affects the appearance of the toenails but can also lead to discomfort and pain if left untreated. However, with the right prevention and treatment strategies, managing fungal toenails is entirely feasible.

In this comprehensive guide, we'll delve into the nuances of fungal toenails, explore the differences between toenail fungus and other related conditions like ingrown toenails and athlete's foot, understand the underlying causes, and unveil effective prevention and treatment methods to keep your toenails healthy and fungus-free.

Identifying Toenail Fungus

Identifying toenail fungus involves recognizing common symptoms such as yellowing or discoloration of the nails, thickening or brittleness, distorted shape, and debris buildup under the nail. Additionally, signs like a foul odor, pain or discomfort, and separation of the nail from the nail bed may indicate fungal toenails. If you notice any of these symptoms persisting despite proper hygiene, consult a foot doctor for an accurate diagnosis and appropriate course of treatment. Early identification and intervention are crucial for effectively managing toenail fungus and preventing its spread.

Toenail Fungus vs. Ingrown Toenails

Identifying and treating fungal toenails versus ingrown toenails involves distinguishing between two distinct conditions with different underlying causes and treatment approaches. Toenail fungus, characterized by yellowing, thickening, and brittleness of the nails, typically results from a fungal infection that thrives in warm, moist environments. On the other hand, ingrown toenails occur when the edge of the toenail grows into the surrounding skin, leading to pain, redness, and swelling.

To identify toenail fungus, individuals should look for specific symptoms, such as changes in nail color, texture, and shape. Be mindful of debris under the nail and separation from the nail bed. Treatment options for fungal toenails include topical and oral antifungal medications, laser therapy, and surgical procedures in severe cases. In contrast, treating ingrown toenails often involves conservative measures such as soaking the affected foot in warm water, gently lifting the edge of the nail, and resizing footwear to fit properly. In more severe cases, a foot doctor may perform a minor surgical procedure to remove a portion of the ingrown toenails to prevent recurrence. It's essential to accurately identify the condition to ensure appropriate treatment and avoid complications.

Toenail Fungus vs. Athlete's Foot

Athlete’s foot and fungal toenails are sometimes confused, and diagnosis requires recognizing the unique symptoms and affected areas associated with each condition. Toenail fungus primarily affects the nails, causing discoloration, thickening, and brittleness. On the other hand, athlete's foot, medically referred to as tinea pedis, targets the skin between the toes, leading to itching, burning, and scaling.

To identify toenail fungus, individuals should observe changes in the appearance and texture of the nails, including yellowing, thickening, and distortion. Additionally, the presence of debris under the nail or separation from the nail bed may indicate fungal infection. Treatment options for fungal toenails include topical and oral antifungal medications, laser therapy, and surgical procedures in severe cases. Conversely, athlete's foot is typically treated with over-the-counter antifungal creams or sprays, as well as proper foot hygiene practices. Stave off athlete’s foot by keeping your feet clean and dry, wearing breathable footwear, and avoiding barefoot adventures in public areas.

Differentiating between toenail fungus and athlete's foot is an important first step before selecting the appropriate treatment approach. While both conditions are fungal infections, they affect different parts of the feet and require tailored treatment strategies for effective management. Consult a foot doctor for accurate diagnosis and personalized treatment recommendations to alleviate symptoms and prevent recurrence.

Causes of Fungal Toenails

Several factors contribute to the development of fungal toenails, including:

  • Fungal Infections: Fungi thrive in warm, moist environments, making sweaty shoes and damp socks the perfect breeding ground for toenail fungus.
  • Poor Foot Hygiene: Neglecting proper foot care, such as not drying the feet thoroughly after bathing or wearing sweaty socks, increases the risk of fungal infections.
  • Trauma to the Nail: Injuries to the toenail, such as stubbing the toe or repetitive pressure from ill-fitting shoes, can create openings for fungi to enter and infect the nail.
  • Weakened Immune System: Individuals with weakened immune systems due to conditions like diabetes or HIV are more susceptible to fungal infections, including toenail fungus.

Prevention Strategies for Toenail Fungus

While fungal toenails can be challenging to treat, taking proactive measures can help avoid infection before it strikes. Here are some effective prevention strategies:

  • Maintain Good Foot Hygiene: Wash your feet daily with soap and water, and thoroughly dry them, especially between the toes.
  • Wear Proper Footwear: Opt for breathable shoes made of natural materials like leather, and avoid tight-fitting or moist shoes that create a conducive environment for fungal growth.
  • Change Socks Regularly: Wear clean, dry socks made of moisture-wicking materials like cotton or wool, and change them daily, especially if your feet tend to sweat excessively.
  • Protect Your Feet in Public Places: Wear flip-flops or sandals in communal areas like swimming pools, gyms, and locker rooms to reduce the risk of fungal exposure.
  • Trim Nails Properly: Cut toenails straight across and avoid cutting them too short to prevent ingrown toenails and minimize the risk of fungal infection and ingrown toenails.

Treatment Options for Fungal Toenails

Treating fungal toenails often requires a multifaceted approach, including topical and oral antifungal medications, as well as lifestyle modifications. Here are some common treatment options:

  • Topical Antifungal Medications: Over-the-counter or prescription-strength antifungal creams, ointments, or nail lacquers can be applied directly to the affected nails to combat the infection.
  • Oral Antifungal Medications: In severe cases or when topical treatments are ineffective, oral antifungal medications prescribed by a foot doctor may be necessary to eradicate the infection.
  • Laser Therapy: Laser treatment for fungal toenails uses concentrated beams of light to target and destroy the fungus without harming the surrounding tissue, offering a non-invasive alternative to traditional treatments.
  • Surgical Intervention: In rare cases of severe infection or persistent pain, a foot doctor may recommend surgical procedures like nail removal or debridement to remove the infected nail and promote healthy regrowth.
  • Home Remedies: Some home remedies, such as soaking the feet in vinegar or applying tea tree oil, may offer temporary relief, but are not a substitute for medical treatment.

Prevention and Treatment Strategies for Fungal Toenails

Fungal toenails, though a common and persistent condition, can be effectively prevented and treated with the right strategies. By understanding the differences between fungal toenails and related conditions like ingrown toenails and athlete's foot, identifying the underlying causes, and implementing proper prevention and treatment methods, you can maintain healthy, fungus-free toenails. Remember to consult a foot doctor for personalized advice and treatment options tailored to your specific needs. With diligence and patience, you can bid farewell to toenail fungus and step forward with confidence and comfort.

Toenail fungus can be unsightly, smelly and itchy, and it has a tendency to get worse without treatment. Solve your problem before it spreads, and make an appointment with Physicians Footcare as soon as possible!

Friday, 29 March 2024 14:57

shutterstock_1735901678.jpgFoot and ankle fractures are common orthopedic injuries that can significantly impact your daily life. Whether caused by sports injuries, accidents, or overuse, these fractures require prompt diagnosis and appropriate treatment for optimal recovery.

Understanding the causes, symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment options for foot and ankle fractures is crucial for both the patient and their podiatrist. In this comprehensive guide, we'll delve into the intricacies of foot and ankle fractures, from common causes to the nuances of treatment and recovery.

Common Causes of Foot and Ankle Fractures

Foot and ankle fractures can occur due to a variety of reasons, ranging from sudden traumatic events to repetitive stress on the bones. Some common causes include:

  • Trauma: Accidents, falls, and direct impacts to the foot or ankle during sports activities can result in fractures. These fractures may involve a single bone or multiple bones in the foot or ankle region.
  • Overuse: Continuous stress on the foot and ankle, often seen in athletes or individuals engaged in high-impact activities, can lead to stress fractures. These fractures typically develop gradually due to repetitive strain without adequate rest or recovery time.
  • Osteoporosis: Weakening of the bones due to osteoporosis increases the risk of fractures, including those in the foot and ankle. Fragile bones are more susceptible to foot and ankle fractures even with minor trauma or falls.
  • Medical Conditions: Certain medical conditions such as arthritis, neuropathy, or congenital deformities can predispose individuals to foot and ankle fractures by affecting bone strength and stability.
  • Poor Footwear: Ill-fitting shoes or inadequate support can contribute to foot and ankle injuries, especially in activities that involve prolonged standing or walking.

Understanding these common causes can help you communicate with your podiatrist, and tailor your treatment plan to address your specific needs.

Treatment of Foot and Ankle Fractures

Foot fractures and ankle fractures differ in their anatomy and mechanisms of injury, leading to variations in treatment. While foot fractures involve the bones of the forefoot, midfoot, or hindfoot, ankle fractures specifically affect the bones around the ankle joint. Let's explore the treatment options for each:

Foot Fracture Treatment:

Foot fractures encompass a wide range of injuries, including metatarsal fractures, calcaneus fractures, and Lisfranc injuries. The treatment approach depends on factors including the severity of the fracture, the extent of displacement, and the patient's overall health. Common treatment modalities for foot fractures include:

  • Immobilization: In cases of stable fractures with minimal displacement, immobilization with a cast, walking boot, or rigid shoe may be sufficient to allow for healing. This immobilization helps stabilize the fracture site and promotes proper alignment of the bones. Immobilization is recommended for small fractures, and it is not a substitute for foot and ankle surgery.
  • Reduction and Casting: For displaced or unstable fractures, a procedure called reduction may be performed to realign the fractured bones. Once the alignment is restored, the foot is placed in a cast or splint to maintain the corrected position during the healing process.
  • Foot and Ankle Surgery: In complex foot fractures or cases where conservative measures are ineffective, surgery may be necessary. Options for foot and ankle surgery may include internal fixation with screws, plates, or wires to stabilize the fractured bones and facilitate healing. In severe cases of open fractures or those involving multiple fractures, your podiatrist may give you an external fixation device to temporarily stabilize the foot.
  • Physical Therapy: Following immobilization or surgical intervention, physical therapy plays a crucial role in rehabilitation. Therapeutic exercises help restore strength, flexibility, and range of motion in the foot, facilitating a gradual return to normal activities.
  • Weight Bearing: The timeline for weight-bearing activities varies depending on the type of fracture and the chosen treatment approach. After foot and ankle surgery, patients may initially require non-weight-bearing or partial weight-bearing status, gradually transitioning to full weight-bearing as directed by their podiatrist.

Ankle Fracture Treatment:

Ankle fractures typically involve the distal ends of the tibia, fibula, or both, often resulting from twisting injuries or direct trauma to the ankle joint. Ankle fracture treatments range from simple immobilization to foot and ankle surgery, aiming to restore the stability of the ankle joint while promoting proper healing. Key treatment strategies for ankle fractures include:

  • Immobilization: Similar to foot fractures, immobilization is an essential component of initial treatment for ankle fractures. Patients may be placed in a splint, cast, or walking boot to stabilize the ankle and protect the injured bones from further damage.
  • Closed Reduction: In cases where the fractured bones are displaced but maintain good alignment, a closed reduction procedure may be performed. This involves manipulating the bones back into their proper position without the need for surgery, followed by immobilization to maintain alignment during the healing process.
  • Foot and Ankle Surgery: Foot and ankle fractures with significant displacement or instability may require surgical intervention to achieve optimal alignment and stability. Surgical techniques may involve the use of screws, plates, or rods to secure the fractured bones in place. In some cases, an external fixation device may be applied temporarily to stabilize the ankle before definitive surgery.
  • Rehabilitation: Physical therapy plays a vital role in rehabilitating ankle fractures by improving strength, flexibility, and balance. Early mobilization and range-of-motion exercises help prevent stiffness and promote functional recovery of the ankle joint. Gradual progression to weight-bearing activities is guided by the podiatrist or physical therapist, based on the individual's healing progress.
  • Monitoring and Follow-Up: Regular monitoring of the fracture site and follow-up appointments with your podiatrist are essential throughout the recovery process. X-rays may be performed periodically to assess bone healing and ensure that the fracture is stabilizing as expected.

Understanding Foot and Ankle Fractures

Foot and ankle fractures pose significant challenges in both diagnosis and treatment, requiring a comprehensive approach tailored to the individual patient's needs. Understanding the common causes, treatment options, and rehabilitation strategies for these fractures is essential for achieving optimal outcomes and facilitating a smooth recovery process. Whether managed with immobilization or foot and ankle surgery, the goal remains the same: to restore function and mobility while minimizing complications. By collaborating closely with your podiatrist and adhering to prescribed treatment plans, you can navigate the journey from diagnosis to recovery with confidence and resilience.

If you’re suffering from a foot or ankle injury, stay off your feet and promptly call the experts at Physicians Footcare. Hesitation can hurt - make an appointment at one of our convenient locations today!

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