Bunions Demystified

What Is a Bunion?

A bunion, also known as hallux valgus, is a bony bump that forms on the joint at the base of the big toe. This common foot condition occurs when the big toe pushes against the adjacent toe, forcing the joint of the big toe to enlarge and protrude outward. 

Bunions can cause discomfort, pain, and inflammation, particularly when wearing shoes or engaging in activities that put pressure on the affected area. They can also lead to changes in foot structure and toe alignment, impacting mobility and overall foot health. While bunions can develop gradually over time, they may also be exacerbated by genetics, foot shape, improper footwear, and certain medical conditions like arthritis. 

Treatment options for bunions range from conservative measures like wearing supportive shoes and using orthotics to surgical intervention in more severe cases.

What Causes a Bunion?

Several factors contribute to the development of bunions, including:

  • Genetics: Bunions often run in families. Certain foot shapes and inherited structural foot problems can increase the likelihood of developing bunions.
  • Foot structure: Foot abnormalities, such as flat feet or low arches, can increase the risk of bunions. These conditions can alter the distribution of weight and pressure on the foot, leading to joint misalignment over time.
  • Improper footwear: Wearing tight, narrow, or high-heeled shoes can force the toes into an unnatural position and increase pressure on the joint at the base of the big toe. Prolonged use of such footwear can contribute to the development and progression of bunions.
  • Inflammatory conditions: Certain inflammatory conditions, such as rheumatoid arthritis, can cause inflammation and deformity of the joints, including the joints affected by bunions.
  • Foot injuries: Trauma or injury to the foot, particularly to the big toe joint, can increase the risk of developing bunions.
  • Occupational factors: Certain occupations or activities that involve prolonged standing or repetitive stress on the feet may contribute to bunion formation.

While these factors can increase the likelihood of developing bunions, bunions often result from a combination of genetic predisposition and environmental factors. Managing these contributing factors, such as wearing supportive footwear and maintaining a healthy weight, can help reduce the risk of bunions or alleviate symptoms.

Signs and Symptoms of Bunions

Bunions typically manifest as a bony bump on the base of the big toe joint. Here are some common signs and symptoms associated with bunions:

  • Visible bump: The most noticeable sign of a bunion is a bulging bump on the side of your foot at the base of your big toe. This bump may be red, swollen, and tender to the touch.
  • Toe deviation: The big toe may point towards the other toes rather than straight ahead, causing it to crowd against them.
  • Swelling and inflammation: The affected area may appear red, swollen, and tender.
  • Pain: Bunions can cause pain or discomfort, especially when walking or wearing shoes that crowd the toes or put pressure on the affected area.
  • Restricted movement: The range of motion of the big toe may be limited due to the stiffness and inflammation associated with a bunion. This can make it difficult to walk or engage in your normal activities comfortably.
  • Corn or callus formation: Due to friction and pressure from footwear, corns or calluses may develop on or between the toes.
  • Difficulty finding comfortable shoes: Shoes that are too narrow or tight can make your bunion pain worse. This makes it challenging to find footwear that fits comfortably.
  • Development of hammertoes: In some cases, bunions can lead to the development of hammertoes, where the toes bend abnormally at the middle joint.

If you think you have a bunion, or you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, you should get in touch with your podiatrist to get an accurate diagnosis and treatment recommendations.

How to Treat a Bunion

While bunions may not always require medical intervention, they can progress and cause significant discomfort if left untreated. Treatment options for bunions vary depending on the severity of the condition and the individual’s symptoms.

Conservative treatment options for bunions usually focus on relieving symptoms, slowing the progression of the condition, and improving foot function. Here are some approaches commonly used:

  • Footwear modifications: Wearing shoes with a wide toe box and low heels can help reduce pressure on the bunion and alleviate discomfort. Avoiding narrow or tight shoes that squeeze the toes is important to prevent the worsening of the condition.
  • Padding and orthotic devices: Cushioning pads or splints can help protect the bunion and reduce friction and pressure on the affected area. Custom orthotics may also be prescribed to support the foot and correct any underlying biomechanical issues contributing to the bunion.
  • Toe spacers or separators: These devices can help realign the toes and relieve pressure on the bunion, reducing pain and discomfort.
  • Activity modification: Avoiding activities that exacerbate bunion pain, such as prolonged standing or high-impact exercise, can help alleviate symptoms and prevent further irritation of the joint.
  • Ice therapy: Applying ice packs to the bunion for 15-20 minutes several times a day can help reduce inflammation and relieve pain.
  • Medications: Over-the-counter pain relievers, such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen, can help reduce pain and inflammation associated with bunions.
  • Physical therapy: Specific exercises and stretches prescribed by a physical therapist can help strengthen the muscles and improve the alignment of the foot, reducing the severity of bunion symptoms.
  • Lifestyle changes: Maintaining a healthy weight and avoiding activities that put excessive strain on the feet can help prevent bunions from worsening.
  • Bunion pads or splints: These devices can help redistribute pressure away from the bunion and provide support to the affected area, reducing pain and discomfort.

If conservative treatments fail to help alleviate your symptoms, surgery may be recommended by your podiatrist.

Bunion surgery is called a bunionectomy and there are different variations of bunionectomy procedures. The exact technique will depend on the severity of the bunion, your overall health, and your podiatrist’s preference.

Although a bunionectomy is a highly successful surgery, it’s important to remember that there are always risks when it comes to any surgery. It often takes several weeks to many months for patients to fully recover from a bunion surgery. It’s key to follow the post-operative guidelines set by your podiatrist!

Should I See a Podiatrist for a Bunion?

Bunions can be a source of discomfort and frustration for many individuals. However, you can take proactive steps towards relieving pain, improving foot function, and preventing further complications. It can be overwhelming trying to figure out what to do on your own.

If you’re experiencing persistent foot pain or notice changes in the alignment of your toes, it’s essential to consult with your podiatrist to get an accurate diagnosis and personalized treatment plan. Podiatrists have more training and experience with bunions (and any other foot or ankle condition) than any other healthcare professional.

With the right approach, bunions don’t have to hold you back from enjoying an active and pain-free lifestyle. Make an appointment with Western Montana Foot and Ankle today if you’re experiencing any kind of foot or ankle pain!

Bare feet on concrete

Do I Need Custom Orthotics?

What Are Custom Orthotics?

In the business of life, our feet often bear the brunt of our daily activities. Our feet carry the weight of our world, quite literally. Yet we frequently overlook and ignore their well-being until pain forces us to slow down and examine our feet.

Remember, foot pain should not be ignored. It should not be a part of your “normal” day-to-day life.

Custom foot orthotics, also known as orthotic inserts, or insoles, are custom-designed medical devices that fit inside your shoes. They work like shock absorbers. They differ from over-the-counter orthotics, which are widely available and not customized. They can be made from a variety of materials and serve a variety of purposes, depending on your diagnosis and specific needs. They offer a tailored solution to many foot-related issues.

A person of average weight and height with a generic foot type and issue will often do well with your basic over-the-counter orthotic that is mass-produced for the “average foot”. They are less expensive and will usually help decrease pain and discomfort.

If you’re someone with a specific need or problem, you may benefit from custom orthotics.

Reasons for Getting Custom Orthotics?

Orthotics don’t correct foot or ankle problems. However, they do reposition the structures in the foot to help reduce the likelihood of an injury that would be the result of these biomechanical issues. Custom orthotics are created based on a scan or mold of your feet. Because of this, they are tailored to address your specific foot concerns.

  • Alleviating Pain and Discomfort
    • Foot pain can stem from various sources, including plantar fasciitis, flat feet, or high arches. Foot orthotics offer targeted support to alleviate pressure points, distribute weight evenly, and correct alignment issues. By cushioning and supporting the feet, orthotics help reduce pain and discomfort associated with daily activities, allowing individuals to move with ease and comfort.
  • Correcting Biomechanical Issues
    • Biomechanical abnormalities, such as overpronation (rolling inward) or supination (rolling outward) of the feet, can lead to gait abnormalities and subsequent injuries. Foot orthotics are designed to address these imbalances by providing corrective support and promoting proper alignment during movement. By stabilizing the feet and ankles, orthotics help prevent injuries and improve overall biomechanical efficiency.
  • You’re an Athlete
    • Athletes and fitness enthusiasts often subject their feet to intense physical stress during training and competition. Foot orthotics tailored for specific sports or activities can provide added support, shock absorption, and stability, enhancing performance and reducing the risk of injuries. Whether running, jumping, or pivoting, orthotics help optimize biomechanics and maximize athletic potential.
  • Managing Chronic Conditions
    • Individuals with chronic foot conditions such as arthritis, diabetes, or neuropathy require specialized care to manage symptoms and prevent complications. Foot orthotics can play a key role in offloading pressure, reducing friction, promoting circulation, alleviating discomfort, and minimizing the risk of ulcers or deformities. Customized orthotics accommodate the unique needs of individuals with chronic conditions, enhancing their quality of life and mobility.
  • Improving Posture and Alignment
    • The feet serve as the foundation for the body’s alignment and posture. Any deviations or misalignments in the feet can have cascading effects on the ankles, knees, hips, and spine, leading to pain and discomfort. Foot orthotics support proper alignment by providing stability and correcting biomechanical issues, thereby improving posture and reducing strain on the musculoskeletal system.
  • Preventing Fatigue and Overuse Injuries
    • Prolonged standing, walking, or repetitive movements can result in foot fatigue and overuse injuries, such as stress fractures, tendonitis, or plantar fasciitis. Foot orthotics offer shock absorption and cushioning to reduce the impact of repetitive stress on the feet, minimizing fatigue and lowering the risk of injuries. By providing support and redistributing pressure, orthotics help individuals maintain comfort and mobility throughout the day.

Benefits of Custom Orthotics

  • Personalized Support
    • One size does not fit all when it comes to foot support. Each of us has a unique foot structure and gait pattern. Custom orthotics are designed to address individual needs by providing personalized support. Whether you have flat feet, high arches, or a specific gait abnormality, custom orthotics can be tailored to match your foot anatomy, offering the precise support required for optimal comfort and alignment.
  • Foot Pain and Discomfort Relief
    • Foot pain can stem from various sources, including biomechanical issues, structural abnormalities, or repetitive stress. Custom orthotics can help alleviate pain by redistributing pressure, stabilizing the foot, and correcting biomechanical imbalances. Whether you suffer from plantar fasciitis, bunions, or shin splints, custom orthotics can provide relief by reducing strain on affected areas and promoting proper alignment.
  • Improving Performance
    • Athletes and active individuals often rely on their feet to perform at their best. Custom orthotics can enhance performance by optimizing biomechanics and reducing the risk of injury. By providing stability, shock absorption, and improved foot alignment, custom orthotics enable athletes to move more efficiently and comfortably, thereby maximizing their potential on the field or court.
  • Injury Prevention & Long-Term Foot Health
    • Ignoring foot problems can lead to more severe complications down the road. Untreated issues such as overpronation, supination, or improper foot alignment can result in chronic pain, joint damage, and increased risk of injury. Custom orthotics not only address existing concerns but also help prevent future problems by providing support and promoting healthy foot mechanics.

It’s important to see a professional when having custom orthotics made. One of the best places you can go when interested in having custom orthotics made is a podiatry office. Your podiatrist will want to examine your feet and discuss the best treatment options for whatever issue you’re dealing with. Orthotics are made only after a podiatrist has done a complete evaluation of your feet, ankles, and legs. We go through this process so your orthotic can accommodate your unique foot structure and pathology.

At Western Montana Foot and Ankle, our podiatrists will scan your feet at your appointment. The digital scan of your feet will then be sent to our vendor, who will create your custom orthotic and send it back to our office. You’ll then be scheduled for a dispensing appointment. This process can take a few weeks to complete.

Custom orthotics are an investment. They can range in price from $200 to $800, not including the office visit, and most insurances do not cover these medical devices. Custom orthotics will also eventually need to be replaced, although not as frequently as over-the-counter orthotics.

For this reason, many people will try over-the-counter orthotics first to see if they help alleviate their pain. If you have severe pain, or over-the-counter orthotics have not helped alleviate your symptoms, it may be time to see your podiatrist and get custom orthotics. 

Custom orthotics are a personalized approach to foot care. Whether you’re an athlete aiming for peak performance or someone seeking relief from everyday discomfort, custom orthotics can make a significant difference in your quality of life. Get in touch with our office and get scheduled with one of our knowledgeable podiatrists. Your feet will thank you for it.

What Does a Heel Spur Feel Like?

What Is a Heel Spur?

A heel spur is a bony growth that pokes out between the heel and arch on the underside of the foot. On X-rays, they may appear pointy, shelf-like, or hooked. These bony growths are caused by calcium deposits.

About 15% of people experience heel spurs, which develop over time. Most people don’t even realize they have a heel spur because it doesn’t cause them any pain. It’s usually only after they seek the advice of a medical professional for heel pain that people discover they have a heel spur.

Are Heel Spurs and Plantar Fasciitis the Same Thing?

No. Heel spurs and plantar fasciitis are not the same thing, although they can happen simultaneously. While often associated with plantar fasciitis, heel spurs are not the cause of plantar fasciitis.  

Plantar fasciitis happens when the plantar fascia ligament between your heel and the ball of your foot stretches or tears. We have an entire blog dedicated to plantar fasciitis that you can check out here.

Heel spurs can be a result of the inflammation and stress caused by plantar fasciitis. Your body responds to the stress of plantar fasciitis by building extra bone tissue which becomes a heel spur.

What Causes Heel Spurs?

Heel spurs aren’t something you develop overnight. They are primarily caused by activities that put extra stress on your feet and lead to calcium deposits building up on the underside of the heel bone. This extra pressure can be in the form of muscle strains, stretching of the plantar fascia, and repeated tearing of the membrane that covers the heel bone. This process usually takes months.

What else can cause heel spurs?

  • Participation in sports. Especially sports like running or jogging.
  • Working a job that has you on your feet all day.
  • You have flat feet or high arches.
  • Arthritis
  • Improper footwear — Wearing shoes that lack any kind of arch support.
  • Obesity
  • Trauma to the heel.
  • Gait abnormalities that place excessive stress on the heel bone or ligaments.
  • Aging. As you age, there is decreased flexibility in your plantar fascia and thinning of the heel’s protective fat pad.

Some underlying medical conditions that may cause heel spurs are:

  • Reiter’s disease
  • Ankylosing spondylitis
  • Diffuse idiopathic skeletal hyperostosis

Symptoms of Heel Spurs

Depending on the person, heel spurs often have no symptoms. It is usually when inflammation develops at the spot of the spur formation that people start experiencing pain. Interestingly, the cause of pain is usually not the spur itself but the soft-tissue inflammation or injury associated with it.

Some signs of heel spurs may include:

  • Inflammation and swelling at the front of the heel.
  • A sharp pain in your heel when you first stand in the morning.
  • A dull ache in your heel throughout the rest of your day.
  • A point of tenderness at the bottom of your heel. This may make it difficult for you to walk barefoot.
  • A small protrusion under your heel.

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, your podiatrist will likely want to take an X-ray of your foot to see the root cause of your pain.

How Do I Treat a Heel Spur?

So you’ve been diagnosed with a heel spur. Now what? Luckily, there are some effective non-surgical treatments for heel spurs. Your podiatrist will most likely wish to try a more conservative treatment option before suggesting any kind of surgical treatment.

Some non-surgical treatments for heel spurs may include:

  • Rest — It’s important to note that rest won’t heal a bone spur. However, resting may allow the tissue surrounding the bone spur to rest and become less inflamed. Your podiatrist may recommend you use a walking boot and/or crutches for short periods.
  • Custom orthotics — Orthotics can help by lessening the pressure on your plantar fascia and reducing the stress on the bone.
  • Cortisone injections — These can reduce irritation, swelling, and pain in the area of your heel spur. They deliver a dose of medication directly into the problem area. Cortisone shots sometimes only provide temporary relief from your symptoms. 
  • Stretching
  • Anti-inflammatory medication — These medications can help reduce inflammation and swelling.
  • Ice —  Applying ice can help reduce pain and swelling in the area.
  • Physical therapy — Both gait retraining and dry needling can help with your heel spur pain. 
  • Night Splints

Ninety (90) percent of people relieve their heel spur pain with conservative, nonsurgical treatments. This process can take many months. It’s also important to note once a heel spur has formed, it doesn’t go away with conservative treatment. With conservative treatments, you are focussing on relieving inflammation in the area of your heel spur.

However, if conservative treatment fails to improve your symptoms surgery may be necessary to relieve your pain and improve mobility.

Some surgical options include:

  • Removal of a spur — Just like it sounds, the heel spur is surgically removed!
  • Release of the plantar fascia — In people who also have plantar fasciitis, the plantar fascia can be partially cut to release tension and help relieve your heel pain.

Surgery is not common for heel spurs alone. Usually, surgery is aimed at reducing pain and boosting mobility. Most people who have surgery also suffer from plantar fasciitis.

You and your podiatrist will decide if surgery is the best option for you. As with any surgical procedure, it is possible to experience complications.

How to Prevent Heel Spurs

It’s important to be paying attention to your overall foot health. Make sure you’re stretching and warming up properly before exercise. And don’t underestimate the power of rest.

Make sure you wear proper footwear for the activities you participate in. Wearing supportive shoes or having orthotics can go a long way in preventing both the development of a heel spur and plantar fasciitis. 

If you’re experiencing pain after activities or you notice new pain you haven’t experienced before, it’s important to make an appointment with a podiatrist.

Podiatrists have more experience and training in diagnosing and treating foot and ankle conditions. Our Western Montana Foot and Ankle podiatrists will work with you to find the right treatment for your heel spur and get you back to doing the things you love. 

Feet jumping into puddle

Signs You Might Have a Plantar Wart

What Are Plantar Warts?

Plantar warts get their name from where they develop on your body. You’ll find a plantar wart on the plantar surface, otherwise known as the sole or bottom of your foot. Warts are a soft tissue condition that can appear anywhere on the skin. They are usually small, rough growths that appear in areas, like the soles or balls of your feet, that bear the most pressure.

Plantar warts are common and caused by HPV (human papillomavirus). Usually, this happens when HPV enters the body through a cut or a break in your skin.

Causes and Risk Factors 

HPV thrives in warm, moist environments. This makes public showers, pools, and locker rooms common areas to pick up the virus.

HPV can be transmitted by direct or indirect contact. Simply put, this means you can get it from direct skin-to-skin contact with someone who has the virus or by sharing shoes, socks, or floor surfaces with someone who’s infected. The virus can enter the body through small cuts, breaks, and even invisible abrasions in your skin.

Interestingly, not everyone who comes into contact with the virus will develop warts. Each individual’s immune system responds differently to the different strains of the virus.

Though not caused by pressure, they usually appear in areas of the body that bear the most pressure, like the balls and heels of your feet. They are sometimes mistaken for calluses or corns.

Anyone can get plantar warts, and many people do. Approximately 10% of people have plantar warts. However, you may be more prone to get plantar warts if:

  • You’re a child or teenager. Between 10% and 20% of children and teenagers develop plantar warts.
  • You walk barefoot in areas where the virus thrives, like locker rooms, showers, and pools.
  • You have an autoimmune disease.
  • You have a weakened immune system.

Symptoms of Plantar Warts

Most warts are harmless however, they can be painful. When they develop on the bottom area of your foot that is weight-bearing, they can be the source of sharp, burning pain.

The following are symptoms of plantar warts you may notice:

  • Plantar warts are hard and flat.
  • They have a rough surface and well-defined boundaries. They can resemble cauliflower.
  • Discoloration. Depending on the color of your skin, plantar warts might be dark pink, yellow, brown, gray, or even purple.
  • Black pinpoints, which are clotted blood vessels.
  • If the wart has grown inward, you may notice a callus over the spot on the skin.
  • Pain or tenderness when walking or standing.
  • Pain when squeezing the outside margins of the lesion.
  • A cluster of growths, also called mosaic warts, on the bottom of your foot. 

You’ll usually spot plantar warts on the balls of your feet, your heels, or your toes.

Should I See a Podiatrist for a Plantar Wart?

It’s always wise to see your podiatrist when you notice any sort of suspicious growth anywhere on your feet. With more specialized training and experience in foot and ankle conditions than any other healthcare professional, your local podiatrist is an excellent source of knowledge and care.

While plantar warts may eventually disappear on their own, you may want to visit your podiatrist anyway, especially if they are painful or spreading.

If you notice any of the following, you should be sure to make an appointment with your podiatrist:

  • The growth is bleeding.
  • The growth changes in shape or color.
  • You’ve tried treating the wart yourself, but it won’t go away.
  • The wart multiplies or comes back after clearing up for a time.
  • You aren’t sure if the growth is a wart or a callus.
  • The pain caused by the lesion interferes with your daily activities.
  • If you have diabetes or a circulatory issue.
  • You have a weak immune system.

How to Treat Plantar Warts

A plantar wart will sometimes go away on its own after one to two years after your immune system has a chance to fight off the virus. But plantar warts can spread, be painful, and may make you feel self-conscious, so your doctor may recommend treatment by a podiatrist. 

Your foot and ankle surgeon may choose to treat your plantar wart in a variety of ways. Each individual is unique, so what may work for one patient won’t necessarily work for another.

Plantar warts can be treated in a variety of ways:

  • Salicylic Acid — A chemical treatment.
  • Topical Medicine
  • Cryotherapy — Your podiatrist may use extreme cold to freeze and destroy the plantar wart.
  • Surgical Removal — This can be done under local anesthesia in your podiatrist’s office.
  • Laser Treatment

There is no 100% effective way to keep plantar warts from returning. In some individuals, they reappear after treatment, and in others, they will not reappear again. 

Ways to Prevent Plantar Warts

  • Don’t ignore changes or growths on your skin
  • Avoid walking barefoot around public pools, parks, and locker rooms.
  • Change your socks daily.
  • Keep your feet dry. Make sure to dry your feet, toes, and the spaces between your toes after you bathe or get wet.
  • Don’t share towels, shoes, socks, or nail clippers.
  • Wear moisture-wicking socks.
  • Visit your podiatrist as part of your yearly health checkup.
  • If you have little ones, make sure to check their feet periodically.

Plantar warts are common and treatable. If you think you have a plantar wart, or if the wart is painful or causes you to feel embarrassed about your feet, make an appointment with one of our podiatrists in Missoula or Hamilton.

Person walking on sand. Bottom of foot and heel visible.

Heel Pain? It Could Be Plantar Fasciitis

What is Plantar Fasciitis?

Are you experiencing pain at the bottom of your heel? Few things in life can completely disrupt normal daily living quite so much as foot pain that keeps you from moving around and doing the things you love.

Plantar fasciitis typically causes a dull ache or a stabbing pain on the bottom of your foot near the heel. This pain is usually the most severe when you take your first few steps in the morning or after you’ve been sitting for a while. 

Plantar fasciitis is one of the most common causes of heel pain, and more than 2 million people in the U.S. are treated for it each year. Around 10% of people will experience plantar fasciitis at some point. 

The plantar fascia is a band of tissue on the bottom aspect of your foot that runs from the ball of your foot to the heel and connects your heel bone to the base of your toes. You might not think often about this band of tissue, but it plays an important role in foot mechanics. It supports the arch of your foot and absorbs shock when you walk.

Plantar fasciitis can happen when your plantar fascia is inflamed, overused, or stretched too far. 

What Are The Symptoms of Plantar Fasciitis?

Symptoms of plantar fasciitis usually affect one foot at a time and can develop gradually or suddenly after intense physical activity. Recognizing the symptoms of plantar fasciitis can help with early intervention and is essential for proper management. 

It’s key to keep in mind that each person is different. The duration and severity of symptoms will vary from person to person.

Here are some of the most common symptoms of plantar fasciitis:

  • A dull ache or stabbing pain on the bottom of your foot, near the heel. 
  • Pain, aching, or burning in the arch of your foot.
  • Heel discomfort and pain after getting out of bed in the morning or after extended periods of inactivity.
  • Heel or foot pain that gets worse after physical activity but is not usually experienced during exercise. 
  • Tenderness near the heel when touching.
  • Stiffness in the foot and heel. This makes climbing stairs particularly difficult.
  • Pain is more intense in bare feet or in shoes with minimal support.
  • A tight Achilles tendon.

Risk Factors of Plantar Fasciitis

Plantar fasciitis can develop without any obvious cause. However, some factors can increase your risk of developing this condition. These can include:

  • Occupations that keep you on your feet. People who spend many hours a day on their feet walking or standing on hard surfaces are at risk of developing plantar fasciitis.
  • Age — Plantar fasciitis is most common in individuals between the ages of 40 and 60.
  • Obesity — Carrying around extra pounds can lead to the onset of plantar fasciitis.
  • Foot Mechanics — High arches, flat feet, and even an atypical gait can affect the way your weight is distributed when you’re standing. This can put added stress on the plantar fascia.
  • Wearing shoes like flip flops or flat shoes that don’t support your feet.
  • Exercising without warming up or stretching.
  • Long-distance running. 
  • Having a tight Achilles tendon.

Plantar Fasciitis Treatment

There are both conservative and surgical treatment options to help with plantar fasciitis pain. Speak with your podiatrist to discuss what the best option is for you. Conservative treatment is typically a combination of a few different things. It’s usually a combination of stretching, support, and rest to the fascia that will provide the tissue with time to heal.

  • Orthotics — Adding inserts into your shoes that offer extra support can help with this condition. Your podiatrist will either suggest a pre-made insert you can buy over the counter or custom-made orthotics that are made specifically for your foot. If you see one of our podiatrists at Western Montana Foot and Ankle, this scan will be done digitally.
  • Wearing Supportive Shoes — Don’t walk bare feet. Avoid wearing sandals, flip-flops, or other flat shoes with little to no arch support. Instead, wear well-cushioned, sturdy shoes.
  • Stretching & Physical Therapy — There are certain stretches and massage techniques your provider or physical therapist can show you to help your plantar fasciitis pain. They can also help by showing you exercises to strengthen your lower leg muscles, which will help lessen the pressure and workload on your plantar fascia.
  • Icing — Icing your foot twice a day for 10 to 15 minutes may help with inflammation.
  • Medication — Taking medications like aspirin, ibuprofen, and naproxen, otherwise known as NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs), can help reduce pain and inflammation.
  • Rest  — Take a break from the activity that has caused your plantar fasciitis pain. This can also sometimes mean wearing a walking boot to hold your foot in place and take pressure off your plantar fascia.
  • Local Injections —  steroid injections can decrease inflammation. This can be done at your podiatrist’s office.
  • Surgery — It’s rare to need surgery, but when conservative treatment methods have failed to alleviate your plantar fasciitis pain, it may become an option. The two most common types of surgery help with plantar fasciitis pain by either lengthening your calf muscle to reduce pressure on your plantar fascia or relieving tension by having tiny incisions made in the plantar fascia.

What Can I Do to Prevent Plantar Fasciitis?

Your plantar fasciitis symptoms should start improving as soon as you start treating them. This can take anywhere from a few weeks to many months, depending on the severity of your condition.

Here are a few things you can do to prevent plantar fasciitis:

  • Wear supportive shoes — this also means replacing your sneakers every six to nine months, depending on how much you use them.
  • Stretch before and after exercise.
  • Don’t walk barefoot on hard surfaces.
  • Incorporate low-impact exercises into your routine. Swap out daily running with a rotation of swimming or bicycling instead.
  • If you’re overweight, work on losing weight to reduce pressure on your plantar fascia.

See a Podiatrist for Your Plantar Fasciitis Pain

Ignoring plantar fasciitis can lead to chronic heel pain that gets in the way of your regular activities. It can be frustrating to hear you need to take a break from your favorite activities, but it’s important to give yourself time to recover and heal.

If you ignore your symptoms and deal with plantar fasciitis too long, it can lead to gait changes as you try to avoid plantar fasciitis pain. This can lead to foot, knee, hip, or back pain.

Podiatrists have more specialized education and experience with plantar fasciitis and other foot and ankle conditions than any other healthcare professional. If you’re suffering from heel pain get in touch with Western Montana Foot and Ankle today and get scheduled to see one of our podiatrists.

What Is a Matrixectomy? Do I Need One?

Why Would I Need a Matrixectomy?

Do you consistently get ingrown toenails? Or maybe you have an ingrown toenail that lingers and won’t seem to go away. Ingrown toenails can be painful and keep you from enjoying your daily activities.

Ingrown toenails can happen to anyone at any age. They can result from incorrect toenail trimming, injury to the nail, shoes that don’t fit correctly, and toenails that are naturally more curved than others.

Ingrowns can range from a mild inconvenience to something much more painful. Problems arise when an ingrown toenail becomes infected. It is vital to see your podiatrist after noticing an ingrown toenail if you have circulatory issues or are a diabetic.  

If you want to learn more about ingrown toenails, take a look at our blog, which goes into more detail about the causes of ingrowns and how to prevent and treat them.

For pesky ingrown toenails that repeatedly come back or for those that don’t respond to conservative treatment or a nail avulsion, a matrixectomy may be the answer.

So, What’s a Matrixectomy?

A matrixectomy is a permanent solution to an ingrown toenail that has a high success rate. During the minimally invasive outpatient procedure, a podiatrist will remove the problem portion of your toenail. This will be the portion of your toenail that is growing downwards or inwards and is piercing the skin of your toes and causing your painful symptoms.

To prevent that portion of the nail from growing back, the nail matrix, or base of the nail, is treated with either surgical methods, a laser, or a chemical solution that scars the matrix and makes sure that portion of the nail does not grow back again.

This simple procedure will typically leave you with a slightly narrower toenail, but a toenail that usually still looks “normal” after the procedure and hopefully won’t become ingrown again.

What Should I Expect When Having a Matrixectomy?

If you have a matrixectomy scheduled, there’s no need to worry or stress about the procedure. It’s a straightforward and common procedure. Any questions you have can be answered by your podiatrist.

Here are a few things you should expect during a matrixectomy.

  • A matrixectomy is an outpatient procedure done in the clinic.
  • Your toe will be cleaned and prepped for the procedure.
  • A matrixectomy is performed under local anesthetic.
  • Some sort of constricting band is placed around your toe to limit blood flow to the area during the quick procedure. 
  • Your podiatrist will gently lift the ingrown portion of the toe out from under the skin and then cut and remove that problematic portion of the nail.
  • Your podiatrist will then treat the nail bed so that portion of the nail does not grow back again.
  • The procedure itself is quick, and your total appointment time will usually not exceed 45 minutes.
  • You do not need a special boot or brace while your toe is healing.
  • Most people don’t need to take any additional time off work or school to heal from the procedure.
  • Your toe will usually heal within a couple of weeks of having the procedure.
  • Once the local anesthetic wears off, you may experience a small throbbing pain or discomfort that can last for a couple of days. This can be remedied with the use of over-the-counter pain relief medications.
  • You will most likely experience some tenderness after a matrixectomy.
  • Make sure to follow the aftercare instructions provided by your podiatrist.

The procedure is 95% effective at ensuring the nail, or partial portion of the nail, is permanently removed. But sometimes, the nail does grow back, and this can cause pain. If this does happen, the procedure can be done again and is usually effective the second time around at ensuring the nail does not regrow.

Are You Looking for a Podiatrist in the Missoula, MT Area?

Podiatrists specialize in foot and ankle conditions and have more experience dealing with ingrown toenails than any other healthcare professional. Whether you’re suffering from an ingrown toenail, bunions, plantar fasciitis, or general foot pain, our podiatrists at Western Montana Foot and Ankle can help. With offices in Missoula and Hamilton and an additional outreach clinic in Plains, you shouldn’t let traveling concerns keep you from getting the help you need for a variety of foot and ankle conditions. 

If you’re ready to schedule an appointment, call our Missoula office at 406.543.5333 or our Hamilton office at 406.363.7289.