Heel Pain in Young Athletes: A Warning Sign

<b>Heel Pain in Young Athletes: A Warning Sign</b>“></td>
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<p>(<a href=NewsUSA) – Indoors and outdoors, youth athletes stay active year-round in competitive sports. And for many of them, heel pain has become “just another part of the game.” The American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons advises that, when a child complains of heel pain, it should be diagnosed promptly, because it may be a warning sign of a serious foot problem.

Dr. Karl Collins, DPM, FACFAS, a St. Louis-area foot and ankle surgeon, says heel pain occurs frequently in children ages 6 to 14 as their feet grow and the heel bone develops. “As children become more active in sports, they increase their risk for growth plate injuries and subsequent heel pain,” says Collins. This is especially true during the school year, when surgeons see an increase in middle- and high-school athletes experiencing heel pain from sports.

“New bone forms in an area behind the heel, known as the growth plate, and cartilage is vulnerable to severe inflammation from strain or stress. With repeated stresses and strains from overactivity, the heel becomes very painful,” Collins explains.

Even though growth plate trauma is the leading cause of heel pain in young people, Collins says the condition can be difficult to diagnose. He cautions that parents should be concerned if a child has pain in the back or bottom of the heel, limps, walks on the toes, or seems to have difficulty participating in normal recreational activities. To diagnose the condition, foot and ankle surgeons examine the child’s foot and leg, and often take imaging tests to rule out other serious causes of heel pain, such as bursitis, tendonitis and fractures.

In most cases, mild or moderate heel pain can be treated successfully with shoe inserts to soften the impact on the heel, anti-inflammatory medications, stretching and physical therapy. In severe cases, the foot and ankle will be immobilized in a cast. In some instances, surgery may be necessary.

Heel pain in young people often returns after treatment, because the growth plate is still forming until the age of 14 or 15. However, the risk for recurrence can be lowered by choosing well-constructed shoes with good support and restricting use of spiked athletic shoes, especially on hard fields. It also is advised that young athletes avoid competition that exceeds their physical abilities.

For more information on heel pain in children, or to find a foot and ankle surgeon near you, visit FootPhysicians.com.

How to Prevent a Common Childhood Foot Problem

<b>How to Prevent a Common Childhood Foot Problem</b>“></td>
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<p>(<a href=NewsUSA) – Parents can prevent one of the most common childhood foot problems by following some simple recommendations.

Foot and ankle surgeons say ingrown toenails are a condition they treat frequently in children. Surgeons say many kids hide their ingrown toenails from their parents, even though the condition can cause significant pain. The problem is that ingrown toenails often break the skin. That allows bacteria to enter and cause an infection.

Tight shoes, tight socks and incorrect toenail trimming cause most pediatric ingrown toenails, according to the American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons (ACFAS). In other cases, children may inherit the tendency for nails to curve.

FootPhysicians.com provides parents these recommendations:

– Make sure children’s shoes fit. Shoe width is more important than length. Make sure that the widest part of the shoe matches the widest part of your child’s foot.

– Teach children how to trim their toenails properly. Trim toenails in a fairly straight line. Don’t cut them too short.

– Never try to dig out an ingrown toenail or cut it off. These dangerous “bathroom surgeries” carry a high risk for infection.

– Have a qualified doctor treat a child’s ingrown toenail. A minor surgical procedure can eliminate the pain and often prevent the condition from coming back.

A foot and ankle surgeon may prescribe antibiotics if there’s an infection.

One thing parents can do to reduce their child’s pain is to soak the affected foot in room-temperature water. Then gently massage the side of the nail fold.

For more information on ingrown toenails in children, visit FootPhysicians.com.

New Options for Boomers With Foot and Ankle Arthritis

<b>New Options for Boomers With Foot and Ankle Arthritis</b>“></td>
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<p>(<a href=NewsUSA) – As they approach retirement, many members of the “Me Generation” aren’t ready to slow down, even if their bodies are. Foot and ankle surgeons say baby boomers are more likely than previous generations to seek care when arthritis develops in their toes, feet and ankles.

“Unlike their parents, baby boomers do not accept foot pain as a natural part of aging,” says John Giurini, DPM, a Boston foot and ankle surgeon and president of the 6,000-member American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons (ACFAS). “When conservative treatments fail, they want to know what other options exist.”

After they’re diagnosed, many boomers hold high expectations for treatment. They may look forward to playing sports or to running again. While there is no fountain of youth for a degenerative condition like arthritis, there are more medical options available than ever before.

The big toe joint is the most common part of the foot to develop osteoarthritis, according to FootPhysicians.com. For boomers with early-stage arthritis in this joint, modern surgical procedures may provide more pain relief and increased joint movement.

Boomers with advanced and severe arthritis may need to have the joint fused or replaced. Now, stronger screws and hardware are helping fusions last longer, while slashing recovery times. A new generation of big toe joint replacements also shows promise.

Ankles are another prime spot for arthritis. Innovative surgical techniques allow foot and ankle surgeons to transplant small plugs of cartilage from one part of the ankle to another in some patients, slowing joint deterioration.

Ankle replacements, however, are not as durable as hip and knee replacements. The ankle is a more challenging joint to replace. It’s smaller and moves in multiple

directions. But better and promising ankle implants are hitting the market.

For more information on osteoarthritis of the foot and ankle, visit the ACFAS consumer Web site, FootPhysicians.com.