Fall and Winter Foot and Ankle Health

Since we are now in the fall and winter is approaching, we wanted to give you an update on some things you can do to try to keep your feet and ankles healthy through these seasons.

In the colder months of the year, most of us are wearing closed toed shoes and trying to fit our feet into ski boots and other more tight fitting shoes. This actually does protect our feet better than wearing sandals in the summer, but it can lead to some problems with our feet.

One of the largest problems we see when people start having to wear closed shoes in the winter is pain over bumps on their feet which are typically from bunions, hammertoes, or bone spurs over arthritic joints in the foot and ankle. It is important to make sure that your winter shoe gear is wide enough and has enough depth to appropriately offload any of these bumps. There are also different types of padding such as moleskin or U-shaped pads to try to keep pressure off these areas, which can be helpful especially with ski boots.

Bunions and bone spurs on the foot and ankle can be removed and treated surgically if necessary.  If offloading padding and shoe modifications do not help, these should be evaluated by a foot and ankle surgeon to see what else can be done to help with this.

We also see an increase in pain from neuromas, which is a pinched nerve that most commonly occurs between the bones behind the third and fourth toes in the foot. These are typically made worse by shoes that are too narrow and they squeeze the bones together in the foot which pinches the nerve. This can also be helped by making sure that your shoe gear is wide enough.  Other conservative measures to help this include over-the-counter or custom orthotics with metatarsal pads to try to take pressure off this area.

We also see an increase in ingrowing toenails in the winter months because of the skin being pushed against a curved toenail. If you start to get ingrowing toenails that are painful, soaking the feet in warm water with Epsom salt to soften the area and then massaging the skin away from the toenail is something you can try at home. If this does not work to alleviate the pain, we can do procedures in the office such as a nail avulsion or matrixectomy to help get rid of the pain.

Lastly, with the drop in temperature we do see patients that will have increased pain and skin changes if their feet get too cold. Frostbite is a pretty severe example of this, but patients with underlying Raynaud's phenomenon may also notice color changes in their toes, and it is important to keep your feet warm enough during cold temperatures to avoid any long-term damage that can occur if our bodies are exposed to cold for too long.

If you have any foot and ankle pain or problems, your expert Colorado Springs podiatrists and foot and ankle surgeons are here to help. Our team of staff and surgeons at Foot and Ankle Institute of Colorado are expertly trained to treat your whole family for all of their foot and ankle problems. Call our office at 719-488-4664 today.  We are ready to help you and will treat you to the best of our ability as one of our own family members!

Author
Dr. Matthew Hinderland Board Certified Podiatrist and Foot and Ankle Surgeon

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