April is National Alcohol Awareness Month and at Affiliated Foot & Ankle Care we think it’s a good time to bring up this sometimes sensitive subject. Patients who overuse alcohol can suffer from neuropathy or nerve damage in their feet. The symptoms and risk are the same as for those patients who have peripheral neuropathy associated with diabetes. Often times, however, alcoholic neuropathy can be difficult to diagnose because patients are not forthcoming about their use of alcohol. We urge our patients and family members of patients who suffer from the disease of alcoholism to be honest with our podiatrists, Dr. Varun Gujral or Dr. Nrupa Shah and share this information. Without it, the foot doctor will not be able to make an accurate diagnosis and develop an effective treatment plan. As healthcare professionals, we know that alcoholism is a disease and will work with any patients who are afflicted with it to get help and relief from medical symptoms caused by the disease.
Dangers of Neuropathy
The alcoholic component in beverages is ethanol which is toxic to nerve tissue. Over time, patients who overuse alcohol may notice changes in their feet and hands such as loss of sensation, burning or tingling feelings, muscles weakness and reduced muscle function and muscle spasms. Neuropathy can be very painful. It can also make you less likely to notice injuries or skin conditions that can lead to serious infections. Finally, loss of proper muscle function can make you more likely to trip or fall.
Diagnosis and Treatment
The foot doctor will want to rule out other possible causes of nerve damage. There are several nerve and laboratory tests that can be done to help make an accurate diagnosis and confirm the source of the neuropathy. Once the podiatrist has done this, a treatment plan can be developed. Although nerve damage due to alcoholism is usually permanent, if the patient stops drinking and/or catches the neuropathy early enough, treatment can lessen the symptoms. Treatment options include: Vitamin B-12 injections, oral medications to ease any burning pain, topical ointments, magnetic therapy, galvanic stimulation (which is the therapeutic use of electric current, particularly for stimulation of nerves and muscle) and orthotic inserts for footwear.
At Affiliated Foot & Ankle Care we know that for our patients that have diabetes one of the most important goals of foot health care is avoiding ulcers and wounds. Fortunately there are a number of actions you can take that will make you significantly less prone to developing an ulcer which can be slow to heal and lead to serious health consequences:
You can take control of your foot health if you have diabetes. To learn more, make an appointment at our Edison, Monroe or Monmouth Junction office at your earliest convenience by calling: 732-662-3050.
Most of the time, patients come to Affiliated Foot & Ankle Care to find out what foot problem is plaguing them but sometimes what they learn instead is that they have a systemic disease that affects their entire body. Symptoms that are affecting your feet can be a tip off to a bigger medical problem. Here are some illnesses that reveal themselves in your feet:
If you notice unusual changes in your feet or ankles—including changes in your toenails, skin color, swelling, bruising or shape changes—contact our Edison, Monmouth Junction or Monroe office by calling 732-662-3050 and let our podiatrists, Dr. Varun Gujral or Dr. Nrupa Shah perform a complete examination. What your foot doctor finds may significantly impact your health.
Fungal toenails are a condition that we see quite frequently at Affiliated Foot & Ankle Care but one that patients may have for a long time before seeking treatment. Part of the reason for this is a misconception that fungal nails are just a cosmetic problem. It’s true that a patient can have a fungal toenail for years and not experience any pain but that doesn’t mean it isn’t a threat. Typically, when the fungi group known as dermophytes attacks the nail, they consume keratin, the protein substance found in the nail. This leads to changes in color and thickness of the nail. Debris may collect under the nail plate and a foul smell may accompany these changes. Sometimes fungal toenails open the door to a secondary bacterial infection which can cause crumbling or loosening of the nail. Both fungal and bacterial infections can spread to other nails and the skin.
Ultimately a fungal nail infection is spread by direct contact but there are several scenarios that make a patient more prone to becoming infected including:
Treatment and Prevention
If you notice symptoms of a fungal toenail (even if you are not experiencing pain) let one of our podiatrists, Dr. Varun Gujral or Dr. Nrupa Shah evaluate it. In most cases, a topical and/or oral medication will help get rid of the infection and the foot doctor will clean out the infected area. In particularly resistant cases, a portion of the nail may need to be removed.
Of course, the best solution is prevention. Protect your nails by not going barefoot in public places, practicing good daily hygiene and keeping feet dry by wearing socks that are made of moisture wicking material that are not tight-fitting and using a talcum powder on your feet.
At Affiliated Foot & Ankle Care we know that the health of your feet is dependent on the health of the rest of your body. In honor of National Nutrition Month, we want our patients to be aware of how your diet can impact your podiatric health.
To learn more about how your diet may be affecting your foot health, contact our Edison, Monroe or Monmouth Junction office and make an appointment with our podiatrists, Dr. Varun Gujral or Dr. Nrupa Shah by calling: 732-662-3050.
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