Answering Your Questions to Help Take the Load Off
Many people neglect their feet because they’re too embarrassed to seek medical advice. Unfortunately, this shyness can cause severe problems if it prevents you from getting the help you need. To help ease your mind, we post answers to common questions many patients have about foot problems. Although you should never feel embarrassed when talking about your health (seriously, we’re giddy about staring at feet all day—nothing you ask us will seem silly), we understand that you may prefer to get the answer before you have to ask.
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Can I get skin cancer on my feet?
Cancer can appear anywhere on your body, and your feet are no exception. They may not get as much sun exposure as your head or arms, but your feet can get basal cell or squamous cell carcinoma from too much sun, too. Fortunately, these types of skin cancer are usually slower growing and fairly easy to treat.
A more serious skin cancer on your feet is melanoma. That’s because it is often not caught soon enough for treatment to be effective—as little as half of the patients may survive after diagnosis.
As podiatrists, we strongly encourage you to cover up, use sunscreen, and check your feet closely every month for anything unusual. You’ll soon know what your feet normally look like and can quickly tell if something doesn’t seem right. This includes blue or black pigment, moles that change, sores that don’t heal, redness or scaly patches that spread, and cracking or bleeding.
Don’t wait to contact us if you notice a suspicious spot on your feet. You can call the Wheat Ridge, Golden, Evergreen, or Granby, CO offices of Rocky Mountain Foot & Ankle Center at (303) 423-2520 or fill out our online contact form for an appointment.
What are signs of melanoma?
Melanoma is a serious form of cancer that often develops around or under the toenail or on the sole of the foot. There’s a reason why this type of skin cancer on the feet is so dangerous. How often do you look at the soles of your feet? By the time you notice anything, the condition may be too advanced to have a good prognosis. You need to be vigilant for signs of melanoma so you can catch them early and give treatment a chance.
Here’s what to look for:
- Blue or black skin spots that resemble a mole or look abnormal
- Pain, tenderness or itchiness that wasn’t at that spot before
- A sore that doesn’t heal
- Pigment, redness, or swelling that spreads from a smaller spot
- Changes in a mole, including oozing, bleeding, scaling, or developing a nodule
Check every area of both feet once a month for unusual signs, and if you see anything, call us right away. Better to find out it’s a simple black toenail than to ignore the problem and reduce your chance of survival. Dial (303) 423-2520 to reach Rocky Mountain Foot & Ankle Center offices in Golden and Wheat Ridge, CO.
What causes nerve damage in my feet?
Researchers know of more than 50 things that can lead to nerve damage in feet, and probably more are still to be discovered. They vary widely, but fall into some general categories:
- Diseases: lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, lymphoma, diabetes, and celiac disease, to name a few
- Infections: HIV, Lyme disease, shingles, hepatitis C, and more
- Exposure to poisons: heavy metals, chemical toxins, and excessive alcohol are some examples
- Trauma or pressure: auto accidents, sports injuries, falls, wearing a cast for some time, tumors, or repetitive activities that cause pressure from surrounding bone or soft tissue are all factors
- Medications: including chemotherapy, HIV drugs, pyridoxine and isoniazid
- Vitamin deficiency: B12 is essential for nerve health
For unexplained numbness, tingling, or pain in your feet, west Denver residents can call Rocky Mountain Foot & Ankle Center in Wheat Ridge, Golden, Evergreen, or Granby, CO, at (303) 423-2520 and set up an appointment to get to the root of your discomfort. Dr. Matthew Paden, Dr. Brett D. Sachs, and Dr. Dustin Kruse can provide the expert treatment and caring to make your legs and feet—and you—feel more comfortable again.
Is nerve damage in my feet reversible?
If the underlying cause of your neuropathy (such as diseases like diabetes and rheumatoid arthritis, or exposure to toxins or alcoholism) is addressed with treatment or avoidance, the nerves can sometimes heal again. It will take some time, but you should not give up hope. Your body may also adapt to the damaged nerves, feeling less pain if your brain learns to ignore faulty signals. You may relearn how to use hands or feet that feel numb, too.
Healing is not guaranteed, however, so many times the nerve damage can only be managed to give you the best quality of life possible. There are many medications available to treat neuropathy pain. They include pain relievers, anti-seizure drugs, and anti-depressants. Depending on the underlying condition, medications like prednisone, cyclosporine, and others may halt damage by keeping your auto-immune disease in check as well.At Rocky Mountain Foot and Ankle Center we will do all we can to make your feet and legs as comfortable as possible, and hope that eliminating the causes for the disease will reverse damage to nerves. Call us in Wheat Ridge or Golden, CO, by dialing (303) 423-2520 for more information or help
Can I increase blood flow to my feet?
To increase blood flow to your feet and legs, you need to address the underlying causes, like injury, vascular diseases, or unhealthy lifestyles. An injury can cause scar tissue that narrows blood vessels and slows down your circulation. Blood vessel diseases from plaque buildup have the same result. That’s why some common sense lifestyle changes can do so much to improve your health. Here are a few:
- Stop smoking – it constricts your blood vessels
- Exercise – to remove plaque from the artery linings
- Eat right – to lower blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and weight
- Keep warm – socks and blankets stop cold blood vessels from contracting
- Elevate your feet – to make it easier for blood to return to your heart
Sometimes you may need more help than home remedies. There are medications to help control blood pressure and cholesterol levels. Surgery using a balloon or a stent is also a possibility, as well as procedures to by-pass the blockage.
When cold feet, leg pain, or other symptoms indicate poor circulation, come visit the foot doctors at Rocky Mountain Foot & Ankle Center for evaluation, diagnosis, and treatment. Call our Wheat Ridge, Golden, Evergreen, or Granby, CO, offices at (303) 423-2520 for an appointment.
Why are my feet always cold?
There are several possible reasons for your cold feet and toes. The most obvious is that they have been exposed to cold air without protection, but there can be many medical conditions behind them as well. A common one is plaque buildup in the blood vessels (peripheral vascular disease) that causes poor blood flow.
Other diseases like diabetes, arteriosclerosis, neuropathy, and Raynaud’s phenomenon could also be the reason your feet feel cold. A common factor in most of these is that they cause the blood vessels to narrow or constrict.
When plaque buildup is the issue, exercise to keep your blood flowing is so important to treat and prevent problems. So is a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol, which you can monitor at home.
We offer many other treatments at Rocky Mountain Foot & Ankle Center when the situation has gotten worse and is causing pain. Medications and surgical procedures can help open up your arteries and veins and increase blood flow to your feet and toes. Call our office in Wheat Ridge, Golden, Evergreen, or Granby, CO at (303) 423-2520 and let us help you get your toes warm again.
Do ganglion cysts require surgery?
Those soft lumps on the top of your feet are benign, but they can still cause pain and problems wearing shoes. Surgery for ganglion cysts is not always necessary, though. The cyst may shrink on its own over time, or even disappear completely without treatment.
If the growth persists, or if it is painful or causes skin friction in your shoes, we can try other methods of treatment for cysts. Sometimes immobilizing your foot with a splint can reduce joint movement enough so the pain of the cyst goes away. We can also try aspirating it—removing the fluid from the sac with a needle. This is done with local anesthetic and sterile equipment, and may involve injecting an enzyme to thin the fluid and a follow-up injection of a steroid to keep the cyst from returning.
However, sometimes these methods don’t take care of the problem, and then we can completely remove the fluid sac and the stem that attaches it with surgery. Call (303) 423-2520 and schedule an appointment at Rocky Mountain Foot & Ankle Center in Wheat Ridge, Golden, Evergreen, or Granby, CO or use our online form to connect with us about your foot problems.
Are ganglion cysts cancerous?
Are lumps always cancer? No, and ganglion cysts are one example. This sac of fluid originates in a tendon or joint and it is benign. It may get bigger, like a cancerous tumor, but that is not due to abnormal cell activity. It is just the way these puzzling growths seem to behave.
The exact causes are not known, but a previous injury or a bulge in the covering of the tendon could be a factor, as the fluid in the sac is very similar. Osteoarthritis is also associated with them, and the cyst can be more painful when movement of the joint it is attached to increases.
At Rocky Mountain Foot & Ankle Center in Colorado, our foot specialists may not know why this benign growth formed on your foot, but we are certainly expert at treating it. Immobilization to reduce joint movement, aspirating the fluid from the cyst with a needle, and removing the entire cyst and its stem surgically are the main treatment options. If you are bothered by a soft lump on your foot or ankle, give us a call at (303) 423-2520 and set up an appointment at our Wheat Ridge, Golden, Evergreen, or Granby, CO location.
Is it safe to pop my blister?
The bubble of a blister forms a barrier against dirt and infection and cushions the tender tissue underneath. Popping and draining it removes these protections and opens your body to bacteria. It is not really safe to pop a blister, so we recommend that you leave it alone.
The best thing to do is simply keep the area clean and cover it with a loose bandage. New skin will form underneath and absorb the extra fluid. Eventually, the outer layer will dry up and loosen on its own accord before dropping off.
The only reason to consider draining a blister is if it is really large and painful. Even in that case, it is better to let a foot expert like the staff at Rocky Mountain Foot & Ankle Center handle it. If you have a disease like diabetes, poor circulation, nerve damage, HIV, cancer or heart issues, you should seek medical help for a blister. If something other than friction—like chicken pox or an allergic reaction—caused it, the problem can spread if it is popped.
For help with your blister, reach our offices in Wheat Ridge, Golden, Evergreen, or Granby, CO by dialing (303) 423-2520, or set up an appointment online.
How can I prevent blisters on my feet?
In many cases, preventing blisters mainly comes down to what you put on your feet. Here are some things you need to look for when choosing a pair of running or athletic shoes:
- Comfortable fit, with a good ½” to ¾” space beyond the end of your longest toe
- Wide enough to avoid friction at the sides of the big and pinky toes
- High enough not to rub the tops of your toes
- Lace snugly to hold your heel in place without slipping
- Fit well with the thickest socks you will wear in them
Other tricks to keep blisters away include applying petroleum jelly on hotspots (friction points) before donning your socks, and reapplying as needed. This lubricates your skin to reduce shear between its layers. Using moleskin pads in areas of risk also helps. Adhesive silicone pads act like a second skin to protect tender areas. You can also apply antiperspirant to help keep your feet drier, and use lamb’s wool between toes to reduce friction.
For more helpful hints on lowering your risk for blisters, or to treat a large and painful one, call Rocky Mountain Foot & Ankle Center at (303) 423-2520 to set up a visit.