Soccer Moms (and Dads) in New Jersey are dusting off their children’s cleats and gearing up for the fall season. At Affiliated Foot & Ankle Care we expect to be seeing an increase in injuries related to soccer in the upcoming weeks and months. Studies show that ankle injuries account for 20 to 30 percent of all soccer injuries. Being a contact sport, many injuries occur due to collisions with other players. Overuse injuries are a concern as well. Some of the more common podiatric conditions soccer players are at risk for include:
Keeping Players Safe
There are a number of ways to help decrease the incidence of injury in soccer and help children protect the health of their feet and ankles:
Prepare: Make sure your child is conditioning and in good physical shape before starting to play. Many injuries occur because muscles and ligaments that have had the summer off are suddenly and intensely being worked out. A good practice routine should include warm up and cool down stretches to help protect muscles.
Equip: Do an equipment check on your child’s gear. Field appropriate soccer shoes or cleats are necessary and if they are from last season need to be assessed for size and wear. Shin guards are also a must.
Monitor: If your child has had a previous foot or ankle injury, be sure to follow your podiatrist’s instructions for protecting the vulnerable area. Watch for any signs of recurrence. Be observant of your child’s playing conditions—the field should be in good condition without holes or bare spots and goal posts should be padded. Good coaching practices should be followed. If you notice something you think is potentially harmful, speak up.
If your child does complain of pain, even in the middle of a game, don’t encourage them to play through it. Make an appointment at our Monmouth Junction, Monroe or Edison office as soon as possible by calling: 732-662-3050. Our board certified podiatrists, Dr. Varun Gujral or Dr. Nrupa Shah will examine your child’s foot and prescribe the appropriate treatment. Playing safe means not letting minor injuries become major by delaying diagnosis or treatment.
At Affiliated Foot & Ankle Care we want our patients to know that there is an important connection between your feet and your weight. The more you weigh, the more pressure gets put on your feet. Being as little as one pound overweight can increase the pressure on your ankles as you go a flight of stairs by 4 to 6 times! Being overweight can increase your risk of developing or increase the severity of several foot problems, including:
There’s another big health risk associated with being overweight and that’s developing diabetes. Diabetes poses several health threats to your feet due to neuropathy and poor circulation that can result in ulcers, wounds, injuries and infections.
Raising Children to be a Healthy Weight
September is National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month and since studies show that obese children have a high likelihood of becoming obese adults, it’s important to get and keep your children on a path to a healthy weight now.
The simplest way to do this for children (and adults!) is making sure they are burning more calories than they are consuming. Parents can do this by controlling diet—limiting the high sugar snacks, increasing the fruits and vegetables in your child’s diet, replacing sugary drinks with water, and also by increasing physical activity—according to current guidelines, a child should get at least 60 minutes of physical activity every day. Some simple ways to increase active time is to spend more time as a family doing physical activities such as bike riding, walking, swimming or hiking.
If your child seems reluctant to participate in sports or other activities, particularly if they are ones they have enjoyed in the past, it’s possible that they are having a foot problem. Young children especially are not always able to articulate foot pain or discomfort. Make an appointment at our Edison, Monroe or Monmouth Junction office by calling 732-662-3050 and let our foot and ankle surgeons, Dr. Varun Gujral or Dr. Nrupa Shah examine your child’s feet and ankles.
Healthy feet are part of a healthy body. Help your child to develop good habits now that will enable them to live a long and active life well into the future.
At Affiliated Foot & Ankle we find that most patients do not consider calluses a cause for concern. However, there’s more to calluses than what you see on the surface. What may appear as just a minor annoyance can become a debilitating problem. Here are some facts about calluses you should know:
FACT: A callus, or hyperkeratosis as it’s known in medical jargon, is defined as an area of thickened, hard skin. On the feet, calluses most commonly develop on the heel, ball of the foot or outside of the big toe.
FACT: Although calluses appear to be a skin problem, they are in fact, actually a sign of a bone issue in the foot. The long metatarsal bones are responsible for calluses in two locations: a plantar callus, which forms in the heel and an intractable plantar keratosis (IPK) which forms in the ball of the foot. In both cases, one metatarsal bone is either longer or lower than the other metatarsals, causing pressure and irritation to a specific spot in the heel or ball of the foot. The callus builds up over time as a form of protection for the soft layers of tissue.
FACT: Sometimes calluses can be painful because of nerves and bursa sacs under them that become irritated. This pain can range from a dull ache or soreness to seriously sharp and shooting pains.
FACT: Over the counter treatment for callus removal exists but needs to be used with caution as they most often use a very strong acid to break down the callus, which can burn the skin. A callus may also be removed by softening the skin with warm water and rubbing away dead skin with a pumice stone or emery board. However, removal without dealing with the cause of the callus is fruitless. If you have a callus, make an appointment to see one of our podiatrists, Dr. Varun Gujral or Dr. Nrupa Shah. The foot doctor can determine why the callus has formed and treat the source with orthotics or make suggestions for shoes that will help alleviate the problem. The podiatrist can also use cortisone injections or other medication to relieve inflammation.
FACT: In most cases, these measures will take care of a callus. In rare instances of a stubborn or recurring callus, surgery may be necessary to eliminate the problem. If you have questions about treating a callus, contact our Edison, Monroe or Monmouth Junction office today.
Fall brings a new school year, the start of the fall sports season and, for some children and teens, a painful heel condition known at Sever’s Disease, which we at Affiliated Foot & Ankle Care see often in young athletes. Not actually a “disease,” this disorder occurs when the growth plate at the back of the heel becomes inflamed, making playing a sport and even simply walking a challenge.
Sever’s Disease (also known as calcaneal apophysitis) usually strikes children ages 8 to 14. The heel bone is still developing during this phase of a child’s life and the new bone is forming at the growth plate creating a weak spot in the heel. When there is an excessive amount of repetitive pounding and stress on the foot, inflammation can flare up causing severe pain.
It’s important to recognize the signs of Sever’s Disease, particularly in children on the younger side who may not be able to articulate the discomfort in their ankles. Other symptoms you may notice include:
The main source of this disorder is overuse and stress due to a sport. Participants in two fall sports in particular—track and soccer—which involve a good amount of running and pounding on the heel, have a higher risk of developing Sever’s Disease. There are other factors that can make a child more prone to Sever’s Disease and these include: a tight Achilles tendon, biomechanical foot problems like a high arch or flatfeet and obesity.
Diagnosis and Treatment
Our foot and ankle surgeons, Dr. Varun Gujral or Dr. Nrupa Shah will need to examine your child’s foot and find out about his or her activities. The podiatrist may also want x-rays or other imaging studies done to better evaluate the heel and rule out other conditions or injuries.
Once a diagnosis of Sever’s Disease is confirmed, the foot doctor has a number of non-invasive treatment options including: physical therapy, immobilization, custom orthotics and medication. A treatment plan will be created to suit your child’s particular needs.
As a parent, it’s important not to ignore a child’s complaints of foot pain. Early detection and treatment of foot problems leads to the best results with less chance of chronic issues later on. If your child is experiencing any foot or ankle discomfort, contact our Edison, Monroe or Monmouth Junction office for an appointment today.
At Affiliated Foot & Ankle Care we believe in being proactive in the health of your feet. One of the ways you can do that is through your diet. Your food choices can have a big affect on your feet. First, just eating an overall healthy diet that’s heavy in fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean proteins and light on sugars and fats will contribute to an overall healthy body. It will also help you maintain an appropriate weight. Obesity is a risk factor for several foot disorders including sesamoiditis and plantar fasciitis. Here are some other foods to eat or avoid for healthy feet:
Eat more berries, cherries, salmon, tuna and bok choy and broccoli—okay, not all together, but these foods all have properties that help reduce the chemicals in the body that cause inflammation. Many conditions that affect the feet—arthritis, Achilles tendonitis, plantar fasciitis—are painful due to inflamed tissue.
Eat less refined grains, sugars, fats—these tend to increase inflammatory reactions in the body. They also can contribute to weight gain when eaten in excess.
Eat more beets, leafy greens, and high-water content fruit, such as watermelon and less sodium to help reduce swelling (or edema) of the feet. Drinking lots of water too, while it may seem counterintuitive, actually helps flush extra fluid from the body and can help control swelling.
Eat more cheese, yogurt, milk, and leafy greens, such as kale and bok choy. These foods are all rich in calcium, an essential nutrient for keeping the bones of your feet—all 26 of them—strong and healthy.
Eat less shell fish, red meat, red wine, organ meats and rich sauces if you have suffered from gout attacks. These foods are all high in purines, a chemical thought to trigger gout.
Of course, a healthy diet is only one component in a good foot care regimen. Taking care of your feet also requires paying attention to changes, pain or discomfort and letting your podiatrists, Dr. Varun Gujral or Dr. Nrupa Shah know if you notice any unusual changes in your feet. If you have any foot concerns, contact us for an appointment at our Edison, Monroe or Monmouth Junction office.
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