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Next Step Foot & Ankle Clinic

Frequent Foot Questions: What You Want to Know About Ankle and Foot Health

Exploring medical options to cope with pain can be very overwhelming, and it can be hard to know where to start. Here, we share our most commonly asked questions from people just like you. Whether you are wondering what is causing your pain or trying to find out what treatment options are available to you, find answers here in our frequently asked questions section.

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  • What are diabetic ulcers?

    If you were recently diagnosed with diabetes, you may be wondering “What are diabetic ulcers, and why are they a big deal?” Diabetic ulcers are open wounds or sores on your feet, often on your soles or the bottoms of your toes, where they are hard to see. They begin as small sores or cuts, then progress to full-blown wounds as your body’s slowed immune response can’t repair the damage. Since they are open, they become infected easily. That’s why prompt, experienced diabetic wound care is vital to allow them to heal and to prevent complications that could lead to an amputation.

    If you or someone you care about have discovered an open sore on your feet, don’t wait to seek help. Contact Dr. Darren Silvester at Next Step Foot & Ankle Clinic in Pleasanton, TX, for more information about diabetic foot care or to make an appointment. Call (830) 569-3338 or use our website contact form to reach us.

  • What should I do if I suffer a turf toe injury?

    A turf toe injury usually happens suddenly, and can painfully restrict your big toe for quite a while. Taking care of the problem promptly can help you limit the damage and heal more quickly. After the injury happens, begin RICE treatment—rest, ice, compress, and elevate. Take a break from all hard-impact activities to rest your foot. Ice the sprained big toe to help decrease swelling and inflammation in the area. Wrap the foot in a bandage or wear stiff-soled shoes to compress the joint and keep it from moving too much. Prop your foot up on pillows to help minimize swelling as well.

    After the initial first aid, you may need additional treatment like physical therapy to heal completely. Let Dr. Darren Silvester and our staff at Next Step Foot & Ankle Clinic know about your big toe pain, so we can help manage your injury. Just call our Pleasanton office at (830) 569-3338 or use the website contact form to make an appointment with us.

  • Why do my Toes Smell?

    Smelly feet and toes are caused by a number of things, including toenail fungus. The fungus thrives in moist, warm environments. When your toes are sweaty and frequently locked in shoes without air circulation, you provide the perfect atmosphere for the pathogens. They multiply and damage your nails, causing them to become thickened, brittle, crumbly, dull, and discolored. The fungal growth can also cause that slight foul odor.

    The sweatiness that makes your feet so ideal for fungus can contribute to an unpleasant foot odor as well. Sweat mixes with the natural colonies of bacteria on your skin. These microorganisms break down the sweat and release a smelly gas. Whether the odor is from the sweat or the fungus, the outcome is the same: smelly feet. Let Dr. Darren Silvester at Next Step Foot & Ankle Clinic help you eliminate fungal foot problems and has remedies for foot odor, too. Call our Pleasanton, Texas, office at (830) 569-3338 or use our web request form to make an appointment with us.

  • What are the most common running injuries?

    Imagine being able to run for miles without any aches and pains—oh to dream! When it comes to identifying and treating running injuries, we've seen them all. Our bodies aren't perfect machines and they tend to break down when worked too hard.

    From that tender toe to that tight hamstring, here are the most common running injuries seen in our office:

    1. Runner's knee accounts for about 40% of running pains. This irritation typically flares up after long runs and after extended periods of inactivity.
    2. Achilles tendonitis affects the calf muscle and back of the heel. When the leg experiences too much stress, the Achilles tendon tightens and becomes inflamed and painful.
    3. Shin splints occur when the small muscles around the shin bone begin to develop small tears. This injury is most common among new runners who begin adding miles to their runs too quickly.
    4. Plantar fasciitis is the inflammation of the tendons in the bottom of the foot. This dull ache is most prominent in the morning and at the beginning of exercise. The pain worsens when your shoes don't provide proper arch support.

    Injuries such as these should be addressed. Don't spend your time in limbo, fighting between running and resting. If you’re experiencing any of these aches and pains, contact Dr. Darren Silvester at Next Step Foot and Ankle Clinic here in Pleasanton, TX. Call (830) 569-3338, or you can also follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest for more helpful information. 

  • How long should I warm up for to prevent sports injuries?

    When people are getting ready to play a sport, many of them probably wonder, “How long I should warm up?” The exact time may vary depending on your specific sport and individual fitness level. If you’re already fit, you may not need a long warm-up period to prepare your limbs. The bare minimum should be five minutes of movement to activate your muscles, though longer is better. You should spend several minutes doing cardio movement—walking or jogging—to increase your heart rate. After that, you should spend time stretching and performing movements that work the main muscle groups and structures you’ll be using in your sport.

    Make sure whatever you do for your warm-up, you include exercises for your feet. Activating your foot and ankle muscles before playing will allow your lower limbs to respond better in the game. If you’re not sure how to warm up your feet or you’re struggling with pain when you play sports, contact Dr. Darren Silvester here at Next Step Foot & Ankle Clinic. You can reach our Pleasanton, TX, office for more information or make an appointment by calling (830) 569-3338 and visiting the website contact page.

  • How can I prevent sports injuries?

    The best way to prevent sports injuries is to prepare and protect your feet and ankles as much as possible before you play. Make sure you warm up before and cool down after any activity, so that your muscles are better prepared to handle the strain of your activity. Choose athletic shoes that are designed for your sport and will support your unique needs. Make sure you replace any worn out pairs before they risk damaging your lower limbs.

    If you have foot or ankle pain, treat it before it deteriorates into a bigger issue. Use ice to combat swelling and employ braces to help stabilize weak joints. Any acute injuries or persistent pain that isn’t resolving needs to be addressed right away by an expert like Dr. Darren Silvester. Contact Next Step Foot & Ankle Clinic in Pleasanton, TX, by calling (830) 569-3338 or using our online contact form to set up an appointment. 

  • How can I treat heel fissures at home?

    For many, the appearance of cracks on the heels are nothing more than an embarrassment or inconvenience, but for others, heel fissures can cause a great deal of pain. Whether you have deep cracks in your heels or just have dry skin, here are ways to treat heel fissures at home:

    • Soak your feet in lukewarm water for about 15 to 20 minutes. Then, use a pumice stone to gently remove the dead skin. Gently pat your skin dry, followed by an application of moisturizer, and a thick pair of socks.
    • We recommend 40% or greater urea creams for fissures. Stop by our office and pick up some RevitaDerm or Kera 42. After your shower, apply the cream and wrap your feet with saran wrap. Top with a pair socks if you want, and leave the cream on for 20-30 minutes. Remove the saran wrap and your feet will feel and look super soft!

    With these easy, at-home cures, your feet will be feeling brand new in no time! If you don't notice improvement after a week, contact Dr. Darren Silvester at Next Step Foot and Ankle Clinic in Pleasanton, TX. Call (830) 569-3338 or by visiting us online. 

  • What are the symptoms of skin cancer on my feet?

    Checking your feet for skin changes is a key part of identifying malignant lesions before they cause too much damage. There are a variety of symptoms to be wary of—particularly for melanoma. Small, scaly bumps or plaques, particularly if they crack and bleed or have a callus over them, may be squamous cell carcinoma. White, pearly patches or bumps that ooze may signal basal cell carcinoma. Malignant melanoma, the rarest and most deadly of the skin cancers on the feet, has many possible symptoms that fit into an “ABCD” pattern.

    Chart of warning signs for skin cancer

    These letters stand for asymmetry, borders, colors, and diameter. Malignant melanoma usually has an asymmetrical shape; is surrounded by irregular or uneven borders, displays multiple color splotches; or has a diameter greater than six millimeters. If you think you notice cancer on either of your feet, contact Dr. Darren Silvester and our team at Next Step Foot & Ankle Clinic in Universal City or Pleasanton, TX, to take care of it right away. You can reach us for an appointment by calling 210.375.3318 or by using the online request form.

  • Is neuropathy preventable?

    If you have diabetes, you may have wondered at some point, “Is neuropathy preventable?” The good news is that you can prevent this nerve damage. This is possible by managing your blood sugar levels. High and fluctuating sugar levels damage the nerves, so by staying in a healthy and stable range, you can prevent the onset or progression of neuropathy. Investing in good diabetic foot care, avoiding injuries, and checking your feet every day for changes is also important. Work to stay active as well—this helps your circulation, which provides the nutrients your nerves and tissues need to stay healthy.

    If you notice any changes, or start experiencing pain, don’t ignore it. Contact Dr. Darren Silvester at Next Step Foot & Ankle Clinic in Universal City and Pleasanton, TX, for more information or an appointment to investigate the possibility of neuropathy and what can be done to manage it. Don’t risk the permanent damage. Call us at (830) 569-3338 or submit your information to our online request form.

  • What causes neuropathy?

    There are many different causes of neuropathy. Anything that impairs or damages nerve functions can lead to it. Diabetes is one of the most common culprits for nerve pain in the feet, but alcoholism, autoimmune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis, trauma from an injury, tumors, poisons, and vitamin deficiencies can all lead to dysfunctional nerves. No matter the cause, the symptoms are usually similar: burning, tingling, shooting pains, numb patches, trouble determining temperature, and even muscle weakness. How the condition is treated, though, is dependent on the underlying issue that gave rise to the problem.

    If you notice any strange pains or numbness in your feet, don’t ignore it. Neuropathy can be quite serious and result in a variety of complications if not accommodated. Contact Dr. Darren Silvester at Next Step Foot & Ankle Clinic in Pleasanton, TX, for more information or an appointment to deal with any nerve issues right away. Call (830) 569-3338, or fill out the website contact form to reach us.

  • Why does my high-arched foot hurt?

    If you have a high arch, you aren’t able to distribute your body weight evenly through your whole foot. Instead, the extra pressure is directed into your heel and the ball of your foot. This can cause pain in those areas when you stand or walk, particularly after an extended period of time. You may develop calluses on your soles, too. The pressure may cause hammertoes or claw toes as well, adding to any discomfort.

    If your high arch, or cavus foot, is the result of a neurological problem, you may have other painful issues as well. Your gait might change and your arch may get higher. Some people develop foot drop, or weak muscles that make it difficult to lift your feet off the ground. Finding shoes that comfortably accommodate your arch height and shape may be challenging as well. If you have excessively curved arches and are struggling with foot pain, let Dr. Darren Silvester and the Next Step Foot & Ankle Clinic team help. Call (830) 569-3338 or use the website to reach our Pleasanton, TX, office for an appointment.

  • What is the difference between tendinitis and bursitis?

    Both of these conditions involve the inflammation of soft tissues surrounding muscles and bones. They also have similar symptoms, however they are not the same. A bursa is a sac filled with fluid that acts as a cushion between bones and tendons. Bursitis occurs when this sac becomes irritated, swollen, and inflamed, typically due to overuse, although sometimes the result of direct trauma. Tendinitis is the severe inflammation of the actual tendon itself as a result of repeated injury.

    Repetitive motions and stress placed upon the joints increase the risk of both these conditions. In each case, treatment involves rest, ice, compression and elevation to reduce pain and swelling. Stretching and strengthening the muscles surrounding the joint will help to prevent future flare-ups.

    If you’re still not sure what the pain in your foot is, let Dr. Darren Silvester diagnose your condition and help determine the best treatment. Call (830) 569-3338 to make an appointment at Next Step Foot & Ankle Clinic in Pleasanton, TX. 

  • Who is plantar fasciitis most common in?

    Plantar fasciitis is most common in older people who are overweight, have faulty foot mechanics, or spend many hours at a time on their feet. Typically it affects men between the ages of 40 and 70, but anyone can develop the issue. People who are obese, have flat feet, or have to stand or walk a lot for their job have an increased risk. High-impact exercises also strain the plantar fascia, so long-distance runners and other athletes also risk damage to their lower limbs. Anything that adds excess strain to the heel can cause the problem.

    Since the condition is so wide spread, you really should take precautions to prevent the issue, especially if you fit into a “high-risk” category. Don’t wait until you’re limping around in the mornings to seek help for your discomfort. Contact Dr. Darren Silvester at Next Step Foot & Ankle Clinic in Pleasanton, TX, for more information or an appointment by calling (830) 569-3338 or using our online contact form.

  • What are the main causes of heel pain?

    The main causes of pain in your heels include plantar fasciitis, Achilles tendinitis, Sever’s disease, and stress fractures. The first two occur in tendons attached to the heel bone, and the last two are pain in the growth plate or from tiny breaks in the bone itself. Most of these injuries feel worse when you place pressure on your lower limbs and improve somewhat with rest. These conditions will worsen over time, since they are overuse injuries, and they will need direct intervention to recover. There are other possible causes for heel pain, like pinched nerves, inflammation of the heel pad, and bursitis, but these tend to be less common.

    Don’t wait until you can barely walk to seek help for your painful heels. Contact Dr. Darren Silvester at Next Step Foot & Ankle Clinic in Pleasanton, TX, for an appointment. Call (830) 569-3338 or fill out the online contact form to reach us.

  • What’s the difference between claw toe and hammertoe?

    The difference between claw toe and hammertoe has to do with the joints that are affected by each condition. Claw toe develops when the two end joints in your little digits bend and curl under, while the joint at the ball of the foot bends upward slightly, creating the claw-like look. It can affect any or all of the smaller toes, and often impacts all four at once. Hammertoe occurs when the middle joint of any of the small digits becomes fixed in a bent position. The second toe is the most commonly affected, and usually only one or two digits have the problem at once.

    Because these are different problems, they have slightly different causes and treatments. However, they share the same risk. Both need to be treated before they progress too far; otherwise, the conditions may become permanent issues. If you’re concerned about your toes, let Dr. Darren Silvester know here at Next Step Foot & Ankle clinic so you can receive the appropriate care. Call (830) 569-3338 or use the online request form to reach us for an appointment. 

  • Do I need to have hammertoe surgery?

    Whether or not you need hammertoe surgery largely depends on your unique condition. Hammertoes that are stuck in a bent position, painful, prone to corns or skin sores, or are not responding to conservative treatments will probably need surgical correction to eliminate your discomfort. If your toe is still flexible, padding or strapping the toe helps the pain, or shoe changes reduce your symptoms, most likely you will not need an invasive procedure.

    Dr. Darren Silvester here at Next Step Foot & Ankle Clinic will work with you to find a treatment plan that best fits your needs and your activity levels. Hopefully conservative treatments will relieve your discomfort. If surgery is needed, our expert staff will work closely with you to make the procedure as successful as possible. Seek treatment early to avoid hammertoe surgery. Contact our office in Pleasanton, TX, for an appointment or more information about conservative care. Visit our website contact page or call (830) 569-3338 to reach us.

  • Why do the surgery at all for flat feet?

    Fixing flat feet in kids creates a different child in many cases. The child becomes more active, enjoys being outdoors more, and likes to run and play instead of sit while playing most of the time. Childhood obesity is a serious problem in which flat feet play a significant role due to the fact that a high percentage of overweight kids have bad foot mechanics or flat feet. Some studies suggest the incidence of flat feet in obese children at early ages is over 50%. The question is, “Does the obesity cause the flat feet or did the flat feet (and associated inactivity) cause the obesity?” The answer is probably both. Flat feet later in life causes other body parts to hurt. Of course the feet, but the knees and back can also hurt as well.

    Many cases of flat feet don’t require treatment, but if your child is 7 or 8 and is avoiding activity or is overweight, perform a wet foot print test. If you don’t see an arch or the arch is very small give us a call and get them checked. It can be a game changer!

  • What is the best age to consider surgery for flat feet?

    In general, after the diagnosis has been made, the sooner the procedure is done, the better. The reason for this is because the foot bones at the age of 7 are much softer. Early correction means the foot is better aligned during critical growth years. The foot bones then grow into a correct position. At the age of 16, the bones are almost the same as an adults and they have very little ability to adapt. These are the cases that often require more extensive procedures.

  • What types of surgeries are there for flat feet?

    There are medical devices such as arch supports, orthotics or braces that can be helpful sometimes. These will not, however, change the bone position that is needed to restore normal foot function. Surgery can be very helpful for these kids and make a big difference in their lives.

  • What can be done about flat feet?

    There are medical devices such as arch supports, orthotics or braces that can be helpful sometimes. These will not, however, change the bone position that is needed to restore normal foot function. Surgery can be very helpful for these kids and make a big difference in their lives.