Common Foot and Ankle Questions and Answers

Many of the same fears and worries plague those experiencing foot and ankle pain. Dr. Jeffrie Leibovitz offers his answers to many of these common questions to help patients understand their symptoms and take the first step to treating their underlying condition.

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  • How do orthotics help?

    Closeup of shoes walking down paved pathPodiatrists can use many different treatment options for lower limb issues, including custom orthotics.

    Orthotics are custom medical devices created for your unique feet. They control abnormal biomechanical processes during your gait cycle. For example, if your foot pronates, which is when the arch rolls excessively inward after your foot makes contact with the ground, an orthotic device would control the excessive motion.

    When the aim of orthotics is to control movement, we are talking about functional orthotics. There is a second kind (accommodative orthotics), which is used to protect anatomy. Accommodative orthotics are generally softer and not intended to control motion.

    These medical devices are used to treat and prevent an array of issues, including bunions, abnormal foot arches (both high and low), hallux limitus (stiff big toe), neuromas, ulceration/calluses, forefoot pain, and plantar fasciitis.

    If you would like to find out if orthotics can help relieve your pain and restore your foot function, come in for an evaluation. We provide comprehensive foot care services at our Indianapolis, IN podiatrist office, so give us a call at (317) 545-0505 and request your appointment today.

  • What are some good gifts for feet?

    girl holding gift envelope wrapped in red ribbonWhen people are being honest, most say they want gifts that are useful and practical. Given that the loved ones in your life likely use their feet to walk—and probably would prefer they are healthy and pain-free—you may want to give them podiatric gifts. Now, it would be weird to give someone a custom orthotic device but there are more realistic options like:

    • Socks. No matter the time of year, sock choices are important for reducing the risk of fungal and bacterial infections. We recommend Woolie Boolie or SmartWool socks for optimal warmth and protection in cold weather.
    • Moisturizers. Dry heels that become fissured and cracked can be quite painful. We sell moisturizing creams at our office to prevent this from happening.
    • Ice-circulating pumps. One of the bedrocks of successful injury recovery is reducing inflammation. Ice-circulating pumps are perfect for this.
    • Selfie-sticks. This may seem like an odd choice, but these are great for diabetic relatives who cannot inspect the bottoms of their feet any other way.

    Remember, if you need foot care services, our office is here for you. Call us at (317) 545-0505 for more information, or to request your appointment with our Indianapolis, IN office. If you prefer, you can also connect with us online right now.

  • How does diabetes affect my feet?

    Man pulling up striped socks with dress shoes beside himThere are many connections between diabetes and the health of your feet. Given the wide-ranging effects this disease has on your body, this shouldn’t be particularly surprising. When you observe these signs of diabetes in your lower limbs, you need to understand that you are at risk for serious medical complications. You can feel “OK” while running blood sugar but don’t be fooled; bad things are happening. It may take 5-10 years for these complications to become noticeable.

    Some of the effects diabetes has on foot health include:

    • Skin changes. Specific skin changes from diabetes includes excessive dryness, loss of hair, thinning, and loss of stretch (called tugor).
    • Neuropathy. Elevated blood sugar levels cause nerve damage.  The first effect is a loss a decrease in sensation. It can then progress to pain without a cause.
    • Poor circulation. Restricted blood flow from diabetes contributes to ulceration and risk for Charcot foot, a dangerous collapse of the foot structure. Remember, what is happening in your foot is also happening in your heart.
    • Calluses. Diabetic individuals are subject to more frequent callus buildup. This becomes a major concern when they break down and become ulcers.
    • Foot ulcers. Ulcers are tissue breakdown, which is a leading cause of limb amputation. This is the endgame when all the above occur (the perfect storm)

    Issues that might not seem that important, or perhaps would not be a major concern for an otherwise healthy individual, can potentially become more serious when left unaddressed. Do not let this happen to you! Instead, come see us here at our Indianapolis, IN foot doctor office. Diabetic foot care is one of the many services we provide, so give us a call at (317) 545-0505 or request your appointment online today.

  • Does a broken toe bone need treatment?

    Bones of the footBroken toe bones can be tricky. More than 25% of all the bones in the body are in your feet and over half of these foot bones are in your toes (Phalanges). With many bumps and flares, the bones are like jigsaw pieces that are intended to be arranged in a particular manner. This means the position a broken bone heals can make a difference in toe structure function. If the joint surface is damaged, arthritis and stiffness will develop.

    Treating a broken toe bone is important to ensure it will heal in a proper position. If the bone alters its position, it can lead to adjacent pressure between the toes. This would be like having your hand squeezed with a big ring on your finger.

    The greatest part of the pain created by an injury is swelling. Early treatment will minimize this and keep you comfortable and allow the quickest recovery.

    Toe bones are relatively small, but can cause a lot of pain when broken. Accordingly, part of treatment for these injuries is to relieve painful symptoms. There are various ways we can handle this, but keep in mind that your first step is to come in and see us at our Indianapolis podiatrist office!

    Give us a call at (317) 545-0505 and we can provide additional information or set you up with an appointment for our office. Of course, you can also request your appointment online right now.

  • When can I drive after foot and ankle surgery?

    closeup of foot drivingKnowing when you can expect to drive after foot and ankle surgery is a VERY important consideration when you decide to have a surgical procedure to correct your foot and ankle problem. There will be a splint or a removable boot that will be used after surgery that will interfere with driving.

    If the procedure only involves soft tissue (neuromas, joint cleanup procedure, and ganglions), it may be 2-3 weeks before an athletic shoe can be worn. If bone healing is involved (joint fusion or osteotomy) it may take 4-8 weeks to return to an athletic shoe.  Of course, we can only provide a very rough estimate unless we see you here in our office, but this does provide a starting point.

    Another variable is which foot will have the surgery. If your car has an automatic transmission, the right foot has to be functional and a splint or post-operative boot cannot be used for safe operations. This will make a 2- to 4-week difference between a left- and right-sided surgery. There will be no difference with a manual transmission since both feet are used.

    This is one of the many small details that need to be considered when electing surgery. When you come to see us here at our Indianapolis, IN office, we will be able to better assess all the factors and give you a more realistic timeframe with regards to driving after your surgery. Call us at (317) 545-0505 or request your appointment online right now!

  • Do bunions and bunionettes need surgery?

    feet standing on tiptoe on a wooden surfaceBunions and bunionettes are progressive conditions, which means they will gradually worsen in severity. Treatment options involve protection or correction. Protection involves changing the environment around the deformity by shoe section and modification, padding, and orthotics. Correction involves surgery to correct the bone deformity. Conservative care has a better success rate in the initial stage of these deformities. Ultimately, the decision to undergo bunion surgery is your call.

    If you are considering having surgery for a bunion or bunionette, it is important that you carefully balance your “wants and needs.” The present limitations, pain, and eventual progression should be weighed against the length of recovery, risks of complications, and family or job restrictions. Understanding every step of the recovery process will lead to the bests results as well as lower the stress while you wait to get back to full activity. Little details like: how long do I need to keep my foot dry (10-14 days)?, how long until I can drive (Right feet have a longer interval than left)?, or when can I start to exercise (Swimming and cycling can start before walking and running)?

    There are certainly cases when bunion surgery makes sense, but this should be a discussion we have here in our Indianapolis, IN office. We’ll be happy to assess your situation and help you determine the best course of action. Give us a call at (317) 545-0505, or take advantage of our online form to request your appointment today.

  • What is the best way to describe my symptoms to you?

    There's a language when it comes to talking with your doctor about painThe first “rule” of how to describe symptoms is simply to be honest and be open. If something is bothering you, don’t be afraid to say so. Any information you offer might be instrumental in determining what is wrong.

    While describing your symptoms, some things to keep in mind include:

    • Intensity – Let us know, on a scale of 1-10, how strong is your pain. A “0” is no pain at all, whereas a “10” means that you are unable to walk. If daily activity can be completed, the pain is not a “10” and if exercising cannot be continued, it is not a “3.” This is important because a “3” is going to be treated differently than an “8.”
    • Location – As a podiatrist, it’s expected that you are coming in for foot pain, but sharing the actual location, as specifically as possible, will help ensure your issue is diagnosed correctly.
    • Quality – Not all pain is equal! “Sharp” pain is often an indication of an acute injury, whereas “dull” pain usually indicates a chronic condition. Burning, tingling, and even “no pain” (numbness) is all important to know.
    • Timing – Be sure to tell us how long the issue has been around, and be as specific as possible. Some symptoms are more prominent after rest, at the end of activity, only when standing, or when sitting.

    Now that you know the best way to describe your symptoms, come and see us here at our Indianapolis, IN office. Give us a call at (317) 545-0505 to request your appointment!

  • When should I see a podiatrist?

    A podiatrist is a doctor who is specially trained in evaluating, diagnosing, and treating conditions and injuries that affect the feet and ankles through both conservative and surgical means. Their specialized education and practical experience make them the only choice for dealing with foot and ankle problems, ranging from ankle sprains and heel pain to ingrown toenails, bunions, diabetic wound care, and more.

    Foot pain is not normal, and many common foot conditions will not improve without treatment—they will only get worse and harder to deal with the longer you let them go. That’s why we strongly recommend you see a podiatrist as soon as you are able if you have any kind of persistent discomfort or problems with your feet. Timely intervention will save a lot of pain, a lot of trouble, and potentially a lot of money, too.

    Jeffrie C. Leibovitz, D.P.M. has been practicing podiatry for more than 30 years, and his state-of-the-art Indianapolis office features the most modern diagnostic equipment. If you have any concerns at all about your feet or ankles, please make an appointment by calling (317) 545-0505.

  • Why is stretching suggested for pain relief and recovery?

    Put simply, we recommend stretching for pain relief, recovery, and prevention because it works! Many lower limb issues are caused by connective tissues that are too tight, especially the plantar fascia and Achilles tendon. These tissues feel excessive pull when the calf muscles are tight. Stretching your lower legs is a great way to relieve stress on them.

    Stretching is a smart activity for injury recovery because it is a low-impact way to get your muscles moving, but without placing extra pressure or stress on them. Stretches can also help to make muscles limber again when they have become tight and inflexible due to inactivity.

    As effective as a stretching program can be, it is also one of the most boring activities known to man. Like any other task, it is much easier to do when it becomes a habit.

    For more information on stretches to relieve pain and recover from foot and ankle injuries, schedule an appointment with our Indianapolis, IN office at (317) 545-0505 or contact us online and we will be glad to help. If you are currently suffering from foot or ankle pain, we can provide you the treatment you need.