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Dr. Christopher J. Gauland
Dr. Jonathan C. O’Quinn
Dr. Kenneth Rosenthal

(252) 830-1000

Greenville, North Carolina

Featured

Tuesday, 06 December 2022 00:00

The ankle is a hinged synovial joint made up of three bones: the tibia (shin bone), the fibula (outer ankle bone), and the talus (between the heel and leg). These three bones are bound, supported, and stabilized by strong, fibrous bands of tissue called ligaments.

A break in an ankle bone can be either traumatic or stress related. This injury may be referred to as a break or fracture. A traumatic fracture can result from tripping, twisting or rolling the ankle, falling, or by blunt impact to the ankle. These traumatic ankle breaks usually occur during sporting activities or accidents. Stress fractures, however, occur over time and are the result of repetitive stress to the ankle. These fractures sometimes occur when a new activity that engages the ankle is introduced, or when the level of activity is abruptly increased or intensified. 

There are various symptoms that accompany an ankle break. The most significant symptoms are pain and swelling that occurs in the ankle and sometimes spreads up from the foot to below the knee. Bruising or discoloration may develop eventually. It will be difficult or even impossible to put weight on the affected foot, and in severe cases there may be a visible deformity or even exposed bone.

It is very important to seek immediate treatment when an ankle break occurs or is suspected to have occurred, in order to allow the bone to properly heal and to avoid future complications such as stiff joints, limited range of motion, and osteoarthritis.

To diagnose a broken ankle, your podiatrist will first ask you to explain how the injury occurred and what your symptoms are. They will perform a thorough examination, checking for damage to nerves, blood vessels, and other structures around the injury site. They will also test your range of motion. An X-ray will need to be reviewed and, in some cases, an MRI or CT scan may be necessary.

Proper treatment of a broken ankle will depend on where and how severe the break is, how stable the ankle is, and whether the bone is displaced (misaligned or separated) or non-displaced (broken yet still aligned properly). 

Mild fractures (where the bone is non-displaced) may be treated by resting, icing, and elevating the ankle at first, followed by immobilization with a cast or walking boot. Pain and inflammation may be treated with acetaminophen. More severe or complicated fractures where bones or joints are displaced may require surgery. 

Recovery time will also vary, and it may take 4-6 weeks or longer for a broken ankle to heal. Your podiatrist will most likely order progressive X-rays or stress tests to be taken in order to monitor the healing process.

Tuesday, 29 November 2022 00:00

Arthritis is an inflammation of the joints and it can occur at any joint in the body, especially in the foot. It generally effects those who are older, however, it can occur at any age. Although there are many different forms of arthritis, there are three main types that occur in the foot. The three types are osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and gout.

The primary cause of osteoarthritis is aging. As you age, cartilage degenerates around the joints which causes friction and pain. Obesity can cause osteoarthritis through mechanical stress. Injuries that damage joints can increase the probability as well. Finally, a family history of osteoarthritis can also increase chances of having it.

Rheumatoid arthritis occurs when the immune system attacks the joint linings and weakens them over a long time. While there is no known cause of rheumatoid arthritis, obesity and smoking can increase your chances of getting it. Women are also more likely to get it than men.

Gout is a form of arthritis that occurs when there is too much uric acid in your blood and painful crystals form in your joints. Men are more likely to have gout than women. People who are obese or drink alcohol often are also more likely to develop gout. Furthermore, having diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, gastric bypass surgery or a family history of gout may increase your likelihood of developing the condition.

Symptoms of arthritis include pain, stiffness, swelling in the joints. These symptoms can make it harder and more painful to walk. Physical activity can increase pain and discomfort. Furthermore, joint pain can worsen throughout the day for osteoarthritis. Gout attacks generally last several days with the first few being the worst.

Diagnosis of gout includes either a joint fluid test or a blood test. X-ray imaging can detect osteoarthritis but not gout. On the other hand, there is no blood test for osteoarthritis. Rheumatoid arthritis is difficult to diagnosis. Doctors utilize family and personal medical history, a physical examination, and antibody blood tests to determine if you have rheumatoid arthritis.

Treatment varies for the different kinds of arthritis. Anti-inflammatory medication or steroids can help reduce pain from inflammation of the joints. Changing shoe types can help with some symptoms. Wider shoes can help with discomfort from gout and osteoarthritis. High heels should be avoided. Shoes with proper arch support and that take pressure off the ball of the foot can help with rheumatoid arthritis. Drinking lots of water can also help rid uric acid from the blood. Losing weight, improving your diet, and limiting alcohol and smoking can also help prevent or lessen the symptoms of arthritis.

If you are having trouble walking or pain in your feet, see a podiatrist to check if you have arthritis.

Tuesday, 22 November 2022 00:00

A podiatrist will be able to address a variety of rare foot conditions, particularly the ones that affect children. The most common are Kohler’s disease, Maffucci syndrome, and Freiberg’s disease. They can be properly diagnosed by having an X-ray taken, but in more serious cases an MRI may be needed. Kohler’s disease generally affects younger boys and bone deterioration may result from an interruption of blood supply. Children who have Kohler’s disease may find relief when the affected foot is rested, and a special boot is worn. Benign growths in the long bones of a child’s foot may lead to the development of bone lesions, and this is known as Maffucci syndrome. People who have this condition find mild relief when custom-made orthotics are worn. Freiberg’s disease targets the ball of the foot and can typically affect pre-teen and teenage girls. The metatarsal bone becomes deteriorated and flattened, and common symptoms include swelling and stiffness. A cast is often necessary to wear with this disease as it can help to reduce existing pain. Erythromelalgia is a rare foot condition, and its cause is unknown. Symptoms of this disease can include intense burning pain and the feet may appear red or feel warm. Relief may be found when the affected foot is immersed in ice water. It can also be beneficial to elevate the foot frequently. If your child complains of foot pain, it is strongly suggested that you consult with a podiatrist who can diagnose and treat rare foot conditions. 

Tuesday, 15 November 2022 00:00

Tarsal tunnel syndrome is a condition in which the tibial nerve, located in the tarsal tunnel in the foot, is compressed. The tibial nerve can become compressed from injury, such as an ankle sprain, flat feet, and lesions. Arthritis, diabetes, and varicose veins can also cause swelling and thus result in nerve compression.

Symptoms of tarsal tunnel syndrome include several different sensations in the sole of the foot, inside the ankle, and around the tibial nerve. These sensations include shooting pains, numbness or reduced sensation, pins and needles, burning, and tingling. Symptoms tend to worsen with greater activity to the area. In rare and severe occasions, this can change the muscles in the foot.

If you suspect you have tarsal tunnel syndrome, you should consult with your podiatrist. He or she will examine your medical history to see if you have a history of diabetes, arthritis, or flat feet. They will also check to see if you have suffered an injury to the area recently. An electrical test will be conducted to check if the nerve has been damaged. A simpler Tinel’s Test might also be used. This includes simply tapping the nerve to create a sensation. An MRI scan of the area may also be used.

Treatments vary greatly for tarsal tunnel syndrome. Treatments include both nonsurgical and surgical options depending upon the severity of the condition. Nonsurgical options include anti-inflammatory medication and steroid injections to the area. Orthotics, such as a splint or brace that immobilizes the foot, is another noninvasive option. For those with flat feet, custom shoes can be made to offer better foot support. Surgical options include a tunnel tarsal release, in which an incision is made behind the ankle down to the arch of the foot. This releases the ligament and relieves pressure off the nerve. Some doctors use a more minimally invasive surgery, where smaller incisions are made in the ankle and the ligament is stretched out.

If you are suffering from painful sensations in your foot, see a podiatrist who can determine if you are experiencing tarsal tunnel syndrome. Tarsal tunnel syndrome that is left unchecked can cause permanent nerve damage to the foot.

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