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The Doctor is IN! Non-Surgical Approach to Decrease Foot and Ankle Pain
Welcome Dr. Cathleen McCarthy, podiatrist and author of Podiatry Shoe Review, an indispensible source of shoe wisdom for problem feet.
My name is Cathleen McCarthy and I’m a Podiatric Physician who specializes in comprehensive and gentle foot and ankle care for patients of all ages. I’ve been in private practice in Scottsdale, Arizona since October 2000 and I have developed a common sense biomechanical approach to foot and ankle pain that has an exceptionally high success rate. I’m a surgeon who no longer does surgery because I sincerely believe that less than one percent of patients actually need surgery. It’s my opinion that most patients experiencing foot and ankle pain need to stop walking barefoot and get into better shoes!
If you are willing to give my approach four weeks, I think that there is an extremely high chance that this will change your life for the better. The advantages of following these rules are that you will:
- Decrease foot and ankle pain
- Decrease risk of injury.
- Save money in medical bills.
- Have prettier feet.
- Stay active longer as you age.
- Improve knee, hip and lower back pain.
- Have a healthier lifestyle
Top Ten Things To Relieve Foot Pain Today…
1. Stop Walking Barefoot.
Forget about what people say about being barefoot being “natural” – being naked is “natural” but we all wear clothes to protect our bodies from the elements. It’s wise to protect your feet also. There’s nothing “natural” about walking around on concrete all day! Plus, if your feet weren’t hurting, you probably wouldn’t be reading this.
2. Stop Wearing Flip-Flops.
Try an experiment – have someone video you on their cell phone from behind as you walk barefoot or wear flip-flops. Now video you doing the same thing while wearing proper shoes with arch support. Pay attention to what is happening to your feet, ankles and knees. Not pretty, is it? Flip-flops cause lots of extra wear-and-tear on your joints, muscles and tendons. Remember, you’re either beating up your feet – or you’re beating up your shoes. If you think what you’re shoes look like after several years of wear, what do you think is happening to your joints?
3. Stop Walking Around the House Wearing Only Socks.
Wearing only socks offers minimal protection and zero biomechanical control. Although I do recommend wearing socks with shoes, if you are walking around the house in only socks – that is only slightly better than being barefoot.
4. Stop Wearing Flimsy Bedroom Slippers.
If your slippers are flexible or bend too easily, you may be causing damage to your joints as well as setting yourself up for potential injury. Most injuries occur in the house – and I am constantly amazed at how many injuries occur as a patient is walking between the bed and the bathroom at two in the morning.
5. Around the house – as a bedroom slipper – wear Crocs RX clogs with the strap to the back.
Do you have heel pain? How about knee, hip, or lower back pain? This is probably the cheapest and best medical advice you will ever get! If you wear Croc Rx Clogs with the strap to the back around the house, you will probably have a significant improvement in a very short period of time. Remember: The only time you should be barefoot and standing is in the shower!
6. For a great Walking Shoe – go to a New Balance Store and purchase New Balance 928 Walking Shoe with Roll-Bar Technology. It has a wide base with an extra-depth toebox.
I often write my patients prescriptions for this shoe, which can often make it tax deductible and give them a 10% discount at any New Balance store. I truly believe that proper shoes are medically necessary for many patients because it will decrease pain, risk of injury and stop or slow the progression of many foot deformities as well as prevent surgery. Not to mention make your life more pleasant because you will have less pain and you can concentrate on staying active and having fun!
7. Elevate and Rest Your Feet and use topical pain relievers like: Biofreeze or Traumeel. Both are over-the-counter and safe.
Don’t underestimate the power of rest! As a physician, I am always amazed at the body’s healing power so – at the end of the day, grab a good book and put those feet up…
8. Wear Arch Support.
Whether it’s a Custom-Molded Orthotics or a good over-the-counter insert, which you can purchase from your local Podiatrist or your local running shoe store. Ten percent of people cannot tolerate arch support, which means you have a ninety percent chance that arch support can improve your life. I wish Las Vegas had those odds! Good arch support can also significantly help with knee, hip and lower back pain. I’ve had patients say, “I have high arches – I don’t need arch support” and my response is, “Bridges have arches but engineers design them with struts for support.” It’s the same with your foot – support under the arch means less strain on the joints, tendons and muscles. Custom-molded orthotics from your Podiatrist are far superior to over-the-counter inserts but, if you are constrained by a budget, at least get the over-the-counter inserts so that you get some degree of arch support.
9. Wear Diabetic Socks for extra cushion and comfort.
It sounds silly but I’ve been to lectures entitled “Current Technological Advances in Socks and Sock Strategy.” Proper socks can decrease friction and thereby decrease calluses, corns, blisters and heel fissures. Diabetic socks may cost a couple dollars more but hopefully will be well worth it!
10. Make an Appointment with your local Podiatrist!
Try to find a Podiatrist that specializes in conservative, non-surgical treatment of the foot and ankle. In my opinion, less than one percent of patients with foot pain need surgery. I am not referring to foot “procedures” that can be done in the office such as fixing ingrown toenails – I am referring to more serious surgeries such as bunions and fusions of joints that will permanently change your foot and ankle biomechanics. Foot surgery is more than you think! The foot heals slower, hurts more, and swells more because while you are trying to heal it – you are walking on it! Not to mention, recovering from foot surgery poses many risks and the results are never guaranteed. I always tell my patients that the goal of surgery is to take an “abnormal painful foot” and turn it into an “abnormal non-painful foot.”
The only time you should consider having foot surgery is if you have tried everything and completely exhausted conservative treatment and you cannot perform your normal daily activities because of the pain.
Before you have foot surgery, please get a second or even third opinion! Most biomechanical foot pain can be resolved using conservative, non-surgical treatment.
Have a Great Day!
Dr. Cathleen McCarthy