Treat your feet

Taking care of your feet early on can mean avoiding surgery later.
Foot problems that are left untreated frequently become more uncomfortable over time and most often lead to other problems such as ankle problems, knee problems and hip problems. Photo by iStock

For the past 35 years, Dr. Charles Solon has provided solutions for people that struggle with foot and ankle pain. He is a board-certified podiatrist in Grand Rapids that provides surgical and nonsurgical care. His interest in podiatry came after a friend of his was injured and shared his experience of having surgery to repair his ankle fracture.

“Our feet truly are the foundation for our musculoskeletal system,” Solon said. “If there is a structural misalignment of the foot or feet, that misalignment will cause you to have strain and possible misalignment of joints more proximal to the foot, such as the knee and hip.”

A small imbalance over time leads to more complicated and larger problems. The first sign to consider going in for an evaluation is having discomfort that is not improving within 24-48 hours. Foot problems that are left untreated frequently become more uncomfortable over time and most often lead to other problems such as ankle problems, knee problems and hip problems.

“Frequently, we hear from patients that they did not make appointments to be seen earlier on in the development of a problem because they were concerned that they would be told that they needed surgery. Every foot problem does not require surgical treatment, and many common problems typically respond very well to conservative care,” Solon said.

“Shoe gear is exceptionally important for both protection from the environment and the cushioning and support of our feet,” he added. “Throughout a life that is well lived, it is not too difficult to understand why many of us develop foot problems. If we add the extra distance from hiking, running, exercise and walking, our feet need to carry us a very long way. Shoe companies certainly understand this and incorporate amazing technology into today’s shoes. We are fortunate in Grand Rapids to have several exceptionally good shoe stores locally. Our office has developed a very good relationship with one of these local stores where the staff is very well trained and up-to-date with the latest technology in shoe gear.”

Solon said he believes if a patient has a good understanding of their condition, they will be more inclined to participate in their care. Following the advice and instructions of a podiatrist can be critical in surgical prevention.

Solon’s practice, Grand Rapids Podiatry, is at 2460 Burton St. SE, near Breton Village Shopping Center.

Early detection

Avoid surgery by identifying these conditions early.

Plantar fasciitis (heel pain): Frequently caused by feet that are flattening too much, which causes the foot to elongate, straining the plantar fascia and resulting in a sore, sharp and throbbing pain in the heel or arch.

Flat feet: Discomfort related to flat feet, including plantar fasciitis. In children, this could also include strain of the growth plates, and in adults more so than children, it may include problems with tendons. For both children and adults, initial care is typically conservative with the use of appropriate shoe gear, inserts for shoes, rest, physical therapy and, in some instances, topical or oral medications.

Ingrown toenails: Ingrown toenails are frequently caused by inappropriate cutting of the toenails and at times require the use of an oral antibiotic to treat infections that can develop. It is important to understand that oral antibiotics treat the infection, they do not treat the ingrown nail.

Achilles tendinitis: This is a common condition that is frequently found in individuals with plantar fasciitis. The Achilles tendon is formed from a thickening of a band of tissue that is connected to the calf muscle. Many of us have tightness of the calf muscle and the Achilles tendon that leads to strain of the Achilles, tendinitis, plantar fasciitis and injury with daily activity and athletics.

Ball of the foot discomfort: Many conditions can cause the ball of the foot discomfort such as metatarsalgia, arthritis, hammertoes, abnormal length of metatarsals, stress fracture and neuroma formation.  Symptoms typically range from a generalized soreness to a sharp, bruised, aching, burning and tingling sensation on the bottom of the ball of the foot.

Bunions: A bunion is an angular deformity where the first metatarsal moves away from the second metatarsal toward the midline of the body, the “bump” in most instances is the normal end (head) of the first metatarsal sticking out the side of the foot. Some individuals may have a small amount of abnormal bone that forms from chronic shoe gear pressure over time. The big toe deviates toward the second toe due to the tension that develops at the joint in the soft tissue and tendons from the deviation of the first metatarsal.

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