Toenail fungus — what is it and what can you do about it?
As summer approaches, many of us are looking forward to wearing sandals and spending time at the pool or beach where our feet will be visible to the masses. But, what should you do if you suffer from onychomycosis, better known as toenail fungus? Toenail fungus can be embarrassing, uncomfortable, and even painful. Onychomycosis is caused by tiny fungal organisms that attach to the toenail and surrounding skin, which, over time, becomes darker and begins to smell badly. White spots may also begin to appear on the toenails and material may collect below the nail. When left untreated, these can conditions can cause nails to thicken, making them difficult to trim and care for. Eventually, the infection can become so severe that wearing shoes may become painful.
Foot emergencies — torn Achilles tendon
If you’ve ever felt a pop while running, or felt as if you’d been hit in the back of the ankle with a baseball bat, or can’t walk normally all of a sudden, you might be suffering from an Achilles tendon rupture. While a torn Achilles tendon isn’t life-threatening, it may be classified as a foot emergency because it immediately prevents you from walking or engaging in many physical activities. This level of sudden debilitation interferes with your ability to go about your normal routines and work, and requires prompt treatment to prevent further complications.
The Achilles tendon is the largest tendon in the body and is critical for proper walking and running. The tendon connects the two muscles in the calf to the calcaneus (heel bone), and works by pulling the ankle and foot downward while walking or running. When torn, this tendon can no longer do its job, and the calf muscles are prevented from working properly as a result.
Compartment syndrome and your legs and feet
You may not have heard of compartment syndrome, but if you are an athlete or exercise heavily on a regular basis you may have experienced a condition known as chronic exertional compartment syndrome (CECS). Or, if you have suffered a traumatic injury to the foot or leg, you may have experienced acute compartment syndrome. Either way, these are serious conditions that require treatment to prevent permanent disability.
What is compartment syndrome?
The muscles of the body are contained in fibrous sheaths called “compartments.” In the legs, each compartment encloses at least two muscles. Normally, there is room in the fibrous sheath for muscles to move and work without complication, even allowing for some mild swelling. The blood that flows into and out of the compartments and feed oxygen and nutrients to the muscles and other tissues are all under pressure. During an injury or chronic stress, the pressure in the compartment may suddenly increase. This increase in pressure causes the arteries and nerves to essentially shut down -- preventing blood supply to the affected areas. Acute compartment syndrome is considered a medical emergency and requires immediate surgical intervention to prevent permanent disability.
Protect your lower legs and feet from the sun this summer
In sunny weather conditions, most of us are great about protecting our skin from the waist and up. Unfortunately, we often forget our legs and feet until it’s too late. Exposing our legs and feet to the sun consistently can increase the risk for skin cancer and other conditions that can lead to pain and discomfort.
The dangers of sun exposure to the lower legs and feet
Our feet and legs are often at higher risk for sunburn since many of us fail to remember to apply sunscreen to these areas when spending time outdoors. The risk for sunburn is present any time you expose your legs and feet to the sun — even if you are wearing sandals that partially cover the feet. All surfaces of the feet and legs are vulnerable to sunburn, including the soles of the feet, which can become burned when laying out in the sun at the pool, the beach, or even in your own backyard. Those who are paraplegic, have peripheral neuropathy, or are diabetic are especially at risk -- as these conditions may prevent you from feeling your sunburn until it is too late.