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Is Foot Pain Ruining Your Golf Swing?

As you head to your favorite golf course this spring, make sure your feet are in shape before approaching the tee box. Your big toe, heel and ball of your foot are the spots most likely to cause pain that can ruin your golf swing.

Golfer

Behind these pain-prone spots can lie stiff joints, stretched-out tissues and even nerve damage. But pain relief is possible and frequently does not require surgery.

Three conditions

The three most common foot conditions that can be the barrier to a perfect golf swing are neuromas, arthritis and heel pain.

  • Neuromas are nerves that become thickened, enlarged and painful because they have been compressed or irritated. A neuroma in the ball of your foot can cause significant pain as your body transfers its weight from one foot to the other while swinging the club.

  • Arthritis can cause pain in the joint of your big toe that makes it difficult to follow through.

  • Heel pain typically results from an inflammation of the band of tissue that extends from your heel to the ball of your foot. People with this condition compare the pain to someone jabbing a knife in their heel. Heel pain can make it uncomfortable for golfers to maintain a solid stance during crucial portions of the swing.

Other painful conditions

Several other painful conditions can also make the perfect swing difficult. Ankle arthritis or ankle instability can affect the proper weight shift during the golf swing. Some athletes and former athletes develop chronic ankle instability from previous ankle sprains that failed to heal properly. Achilles tendonitis can also contribute to balance-threatening instability during your golf swing. Ill-fitting golf shoes may cause corns and calluses that make standing uncomfortable.

Foot pain is not normal. With the treatment options available from your foot and ankle surgeon, a pain-free golf swing is clearly in view. When your feet are not in top condition, your golf swing will not be either.

Frequently Asked Questions About Bunion Surgery

Here are some frequently asked questions (FAQs) and answers about bunions and their treatment.

1. Are bunions hereditary?

Bunions are most often caused by an inherited faulty mechanic structure of the foot. It is not the bunion itself that is inherited, but certain foot types that make a person prone to developing a bunion.

2. Do over-the-counter pads and splints really work?

Pads placed over the area of the bunion may help minimize pain from a bunion. However, padding and splinting cannot reverse a bunion deformity.

3. Will my bunion get worse?

Because bunions are progressive, they do not go away and will usually get worse over time. But not all cases are alike. Some bunions progress more rapidly than others.

4. Is it better to have it fixed now, or should I wait?

When the pain of a bunion interferes with daily activities, it is time to discuss surgical options with your foot and ankle surgeon. Together you can decide if surgery is best for you.

5. How can I avoid surgery?

Sometimes observation of the bunion is all that is needed. A periodic office evaluation and x-ray examination can determine if your bunion deformity is advancing, thereby reducing your chance of irreversible damage to the joint. In many other cases, however, some type of treatment is needed, such as changes in shoes, padding, activity modifications, pain medications, icing, injection therapy and orthotic devices.

When the pain of a bunion interferes with daily activities, it is time to discuss surgical options with your foot and ankle surgeon. Together you can decide if surgery is best for you.

6. Will my insurance company pay for the surgery?

In most cases, yes.

7. Is the surgery painful?

The amount of pain experienced after bunion surgery is different from one person to the next. Most patients will experience discomfort for three to five days. If you closely follow your foot and ankle surgeon’s instructions, you can help minimize pain and swelling after your bunion surgery.

8. What type of anesthesia is involved?

Most bunion surgeries involve local anesthesia with intravenous sedation. That means your foot will be numb and you will be given medications to relax you during the procedure.

9. If I need surgery, how long will recovery take?

The length of the recovery period will vary, depending on the procedure or procedures performed. Your foot and ankle surgeon will provide you with detailed information about your recovery.

10. Will I be able to walk normally, or even exercise and run, after healing from bunion surgery?

In most cases, yes.

11. How soon can I walk after surgery?

It depends on your bunion and the surgical procedure selected for you.

12. How soon can I go back to work after surgery?

The length of the recovery period will vary, depending on the procedure or procedures performed.

13. How soon can I drive after surgery?

The length of the recovery period will vary, depending on the procedure or procedures performed.

14. Can the bunion come back?

Yes, there is a risk for bunion recurrence in some cases. Patients can help prevent this by following their doctor’s instructions to wear arch supports or orthotics in their shoe.

15. If screws or plates are implanted in my foot to correct my bunion, will they set off metal detectors?

Not usually. It can depend on the device chosen for your procedure, as well as how sensitive the metal detectors are.

Six Tips to Prevent Kids’ Spring Sports Injuries

Foot & ankle surgeons stress importance of safe transition from winter to spring sports.

In today’s competitive youth sports landscape, many young athletes transition from playing winter to spring activities without considering the increased risk of incurring a sports-related injury. The American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons (ACFAS) encourages parents to help their athletes play it safe and take the necessary precautions to prevent foot and ankle injuries that can occur when going from indoor to outdoor sports.

“While sports-related injuries can occur during any season or activity, transitioning from winter to spring sports can bring about a different set of concerns,” said Gregory Catalano, DPM, FACFAS, a Massachusetts-based foot and ankle surgeon and Fellow member of ACFAS.

“Participating in sports during the spring vs. the winter season can require athletes to move from one type of playing surface to another. Competing on these different surfaces with varying impact can add stress to an athlete’s foot or ankle. And going from sport to sport without allowing time for the muscles and bones to rest can lead to overuse injuries, especially in younger athletes whose bones are still developing.”

If your child plans on participating in a sport this spring after coming off of a winter sports season, consider these six tips to help protect them from serious foot or ankle injuries:

  1. Get a preseason health and wellness checkup. Having a medical evaluation in advance of the start of a season can help identify possible health concerns that have the potential to lead to injury.

  2. Take it slow. Ask your child’s coach to gradually increase their playing time during practice and to avoid pushing them full throttle. It is important that your child’s feet and ankles become accustomed to the level of activity required for the sport they are entering. Adequate conditioning can help keep a player free from injury and can improve his or her performance during the season.

  3. Wear proper, broken-in shoes. Different sports require different shoe gear. Wearing the appropriate, well-fitting, broken-in athletic shoes designed for a specific sport can eliminate heel and toe discomfort and can improve your child’s performance.

  4. Check their technique. Most parents are their child’s biggest cheerleaders. As such, you may be able to notice a difference in your child’s form and technique, which is often a tell-tale sign that something may be wrong. Ask your child’s coach to notify you if s/he is placing more weight on one side of the body or if it is something more obvious like a limp.

  5. Insist on open communication if your child has pain. Express to your child athlete that s/he should inform you and the coach of any pain or discomfort as soon as it occurs. Overuse injuries can be subtle and develop overtime, such as Achilles tendonitis and shin splints. The sooner an injury can be detected, the sooner it can be treated.

  6. If an injury occurs, remember RICE. Often, an injured foot or ankle can be healed with rest, ice, compression and elevation (RICE). If your child complains of foot or ankle pain, s/he should take a break from playing and allow time for recovery. If the pain persists, it may be the cause of something more serious. Consult a foot and ankle surgeon for a complete evaluation.

Enjoy Pregnancy Without Foot Pain

ACFAS offers mothers-to-be remedies for aching feet.

“Oh, my aching feet” is a phrase you hear often from pregnant women. But are sore feet a symptom they just must deal with during pregnancy? According to the American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons (ACFAS), the answer is no. Many remedies are available to help alleviate foot pain.

According to Marybeth Crane, DPM, FACFAS, a Dallas-area foot and ankle surgeon, women often experience foot pain during pregnancy because of increased weight, foot instability and swelling. “In the last five years, I’ve seen an increase in pregnant women with foot pain because more women than ever before are active, even running marathons, during their pregnancies,” Dr. Crane says. ACFAS recommends the following guidelines to help reduce foot pain during pregnancy.

Painful, Swollen Feet—Pregnant women often experience throbbing, swollen feet due to excess fluid buildup (edema) in the feet from the weight and position of the baby. To reduce swelling, put feet up whenever possible, stretch legs frequently, wear wide comfortable shoes and do not cross legs when sitting.

Arch Pain—Pain in the arch can be due to both arch fatigue or overpronation (or the flattening of the arch). Overpronation causes extreme stress to the ligament (the plantar fascia) that holds up the arch of the foot. The best way to prevent arch pain is to stretch daily in the morning and before and after any exercise, do not go barefoot and wear supportive low-heeled shoes.

Ingrown Toenails—Excessive stress from tightly fitting shoes causes painful ingrown toenails. Give your feet a break: wear wider shoes during the last trimester of pregnancy to avoid ingrown toenails. If you experience an ingrown toenail, avoid attempting “bathroom surgery.” Repeated cutting of the nail can cause the condition to worsen over time. It is best to seek treatment with a foot and ankle surgeon.

It is also not uncommon for women to experience a change in their foot size during pregnancy. “A permanent growth in a women’s foot, up to half a size, can occur from the release of the same hormone, relaxin, that allows the pelvis to open to deliver the baby. It makes the ligaments in your feet more flexible, causing feet to spread wider and longer,” Dr. Crane adds.

Pregnancy and pending motherhood should be a joy. If foot pain persists, a visit to a foot and ankle surgeon can provide relief with conservative treatments, such as physical therapy, foot orthotics, supportive shoes and minor toenail procedures.

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Running and Track Injuries to the Foot and Ankle

Whether an athlete is a recreational, competitive or elite runner, foot and ankle health is essential for optimal performance. Runners are susceptible to overuse injuries, including heel pain (plantar fasciitis)Achilles tendonitissesamoiditisstress fracturesposterior tibial tendonitis (or PTTD) and calcaneal apophysitis in children and adolescents.

Evaluation by a foot and ankle surgeon will help the athlete determine the underlying cause of pain and the best course of treatment. Custom orthotic devices are often used for treatment of these conditions.

Running Injuries Infographic