Every February, the American Heart Association sponsors American Heart Month. What’s heart health got to do with your feet? At Connecticut Foot Care Centers, we’re glad you asked! Keeping your arteries clear of plaque and cholesterol is an important part of keeping your heart healthy. It’s also essential for maintaining good circulation—something your legs and feet depend on. Poor circulation can result in neuropathy or nerve damage, which can cause a loss of sensation in your feet. It can make it difficult to detect cuts, infections, and injuries. Decreased blood flow also results in less oxygenated blood getting to your feet and toes, which slows healing and can lead to wounds and ulcers. Fortunately, there is much you can do to prevent heart disease.
Here are the American Heart Association’s “Life’s Simple 7” risk factors you can control.
Manage Blood Pressure—Having high blood pressure significantly increases your risk of heart attack and stroke. You can help lower your blood pressure by losing weight, exercising regularly, and finding ways to reduce stress.
Control Cholesterol—Elevated cholesterol contributes to artery-clogging plaque, which can cause heart disease and stroke. Cholesterol is normally controlled by diet and medication.
Reduce Blood Sugar—An important first step is learning what your blood sugar levels are. If you need to lower them, diet plays a huge role. Sugar is hidden in many foods—look for ingredients that end in “ose,” such as fructose. Keeping blood sugar levels where they should also reduce your risk of diabetes—a disease that can cause several problems for your feet.
Get Active—Being physically active has many benefits for your heart (and the rest of your body). It helps your heart pump more efficiently, aids in weight reduction, and helps alleviate stress.
Eat Better—One of the biggest weapons in fighting heart disease is your diet. Reducing the amounts of saturated and trans fats that you eat, controlling portion size, and making healthy swaps can reduce your risk for heart attacks and cardiovascular disease.
Lose Weight—Carrying excess weight puts a strain on your heart, lungs, blood vessels, and your bones and joints. As you lose weight, you’ll feel better physically and feel better about yourself.
- Stop Smoking—People who smoke cigarettes are at the highest risk for heart disease.
Changes in your feet and legs such as skin discoloration, swelling, and toenail thickening can all be early signs of heart disease. If you experience any unusual symptoms in your feet, contact one of our six Hartford and Middlesex County offices. We offer convenient early morning and late appointments to accommodate your busy schedule. Our podiatrists, Jeffrey S. Kahn, D.P.M., Craig M. Kaufman, D.P.M., Ayman M. Latif, D.P.M. and Raffaella R. Pascarella, D.P.M. will examine your feet and determine if a problem is present and how to treat it.
Given the winter we’re having here in Middlesex and Hartford counties, you may think the explanation is obvious—all those cold temperatures we’re experiencing. But, at Connecticut Foot Care Centers, we know cold feet can have other causes besides winter weather.
Here are three to consider.
1. Peripheral Arterial Disease (PAD)—this condition, associated with hypertension, occurs because of plaque build-up in the arteries of your legs. This causes poor circulation and restricts blood flow to the legs and feet. One sign of this is cold feet. Other symptoms to look for include discoloration of the skin on your feet (especially a bluish or purplish tinge), loss of hair on legs and feet, cramping, and toenail changes.
2. Raynaud’s Syndrome—patients with Raynaud’s have a hypersensitivity to the cold, and exposure to low temperatures can cause spasms in the small blood vessels of the feet (and hands). In addition to feeling very cold, your skin may turn white and then red and feeling painfully prickly.
3. Medical Issues—certain conditions associated with hormone imbalance, nerve disorders, or autoimmune disease can all cause cold feet. Some of these include hypothyroidism, lupus, and fibromyalgia. There are also some medications like beta-blockers (prescribed for high blood pressure) and pseudoephedrine (found in many cold medicines) that can cause cold feet.
Of course, the only way to find out for sure what’s making your feet cold is to contact one of our six Hartford and Middlesex County offices for an appointment. (We offer late and early appointments to accommodate all schedules.) Our podiatrists, Jeffrey S. Kahn, D.P.M., Craig M. Kaufman, D.P.M., Ayman M. Latif, D.P.M. and Raffaella R. Pascarella, D.P.M. will take a complete medical history and then examine your feet to help determine why they are cold and if treatment is needed.
The Benefits of EPAT® for Heel Pain
At Connecticut Foot Care Centers, we frequently see Hartford and Middlesex County patients who are frustrated by their inability to get relief from heel pain caused by plantar fasciitis. And, they’re not alone. Approximately 2.5 million people in the U.S. are affected by this condition. The long muscle that stretches along the bottom of your foot is known as the plantar fascia and it helps maintain the arch of your foot. If the plantar fascia becomes inflamed and starts to pull away from the bone, it can cause extreme pain in the heel. Patients may find relief through stretching, icing the heel and resting from activities that aggravate the plantar fascia. However, these are often temporary or do not substantially reduce discomfort. If this is your situation, it may be time to try shock wave therapy.
EPAT stands for Extracorporeal Pulse Activated Technology. It is a non-invasive treatment that utilizes unique sets of acoustic pressure waves to activate biologic and angiogenic responses in the body. This produces microcirculatory improvement and helps speed healing and tissue regeneration.
Some of the benefits of EPAT include:
- No downtime
- No anesthesia necessary
- Zero risk of infection
The results are rapid, with some patients reporting immediate relief and 80% showing significant pain reduction or are pain-free after only three treatments.
Is EPAT Right for You?
If you’re suffering from plantar fasciitis pain, contact one of our six Hartford and Middlesex County offices. We offer convenient early morning and late appointments to accommodate your busy schedule. Our podiatrists, Jeffrey S. Kahn, D.P.M., Craig M. Kaufman, D.P.M., Ayman M. Latif, D.P.M. and Raffaella R. Pascarella, D.P.M. will conduct a thorough podiatric examination of your feet and get a complete medical history to determine if EPAT may provide the relief you’ve been seeking.
At Connecticut Foot Care Centers, we know that the recent teases of warm weather interspersed with frigid days have many of our Hartford and Middlesex county patients packing their bags for a getaway to a warm destination. Our podiatrists Jeffrey S. Kahn, D.P.M., Craig M. Kaufman, D.P.M., Ayman M. Latif, D.P.M. and Raffaella R. Pascarella, D.P.M. want to ensure that common foot issues don’t derail your much-needed break from winter.
Here are some do’s and don’ts to ensure a great tropical vacation for your feet:
- Do: remember to wear socks to the airport. Unless you have TSA precheck, you’ll have to take your shoes off to pass through security. Infection and injury are possibilities with bare feet.
Don’t: forget to pack your custom orthotic device if the podiatrist has prescribed one for you to wear. Foot problems don’t take a vacation and you want to ensure that your feet are not hurting while you’re away.
- Do: bring the appropriate shoes for the activities you’ll be doing. If you plan to hike, shop or see the sights, sandals probably won’t cut it. If you’re planning a more active vacation and sports like golf or tennis are on your itinerary, don’t forget to bring your athletic shoes.
- Do: pack moleskin. Even comfortable shoes can start to rub on your feet if you are perspiring. A small piece applied to a spot that is starting to feel irritated can prevent a painful blister from forming.
Don’t: forget to put your flip-flops on when walking to the pool snack bar or restroom. Fungal infections like athlete’s foot and toenail fungus are spread by direct contact. It only takes a second to pick one up.
- Do: apply sunscreen to your feet with the same frequency you do to the rest of your body to prevent sunburn. Especially remember to reapply after swimming.
Don’t put off getting an injury evaluated on vacation should one occur. Prompt attention is best. You can always follow up with us when you return. Contact us for an appointment should you find yourself experiencing foot or ankle pain or notice any unusual symptoms when you return.
At Connecticut Foot Care Centers, we are starting to see more fitness-related foot and ankle injuries. This is not surprising, as it’s close to a month after enthusiastic resolutions to get in shape have been made by many of our Hartford and Middlesex county patients. Below are some common scenarios that lead to exercise failure and how to avoid them.
“I’m going to start out running three miles a day, five days a week—even though I haven’t done much exercise at all for the last four months.”
It’s essential, especially if you’ve been inactive for a while, that you begin a new exercise program slowly. Forcing your body to go from zero to sixty without appropriate time to strengthen muscles and tendons is sure to lead to injuries like ankle sprains and Achilles tendonitis, as well as extreme fatigue. Plan a routine that allows a day of rest between workouts initially and also includes warmups, stretching, and cooldowns.
“I’m not sure if I am really going to stick with this new exercise program, so I’ll just use my old sneakers for now.”
It’s no surprise that we believe the most important piece of exercise equipment you’ll use are your shoes. Today’s fitness footwear is custom-designed for the movements required of your feet for specific activities. But using old shoes has another danger. Shoes that are worn and stretched out can lead to foot pain and injury. Heel pain, for example, can be caused by worn-down arch supports or heel cups. To ensure the best chance of a new fitness plan succeeding, get your foot professionally measured at a store that specializes in fitness footwear.
“I had plantar fasciitis a while back, but it hasn’t bothered me lately. I think I’m okay to start a new fitness regimen.”
Old injuries can flare up when you increase physical activity. It’s always best to contact one of our six Hartford and Middlesex County offices so that our podiatrists Jeffrey S. Kahn, D.P.M., Craig M. Kaufman, D.P.M., Ayman M. Latif, D.P.M. and Raffaella R. Pascarella, D.P.M. can conduct a complete podiatric checkup before beginning a new exercise program. The foot doctor can check on chronic conditions and make recommendations that will increase your comfort and safety when exercising.
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