Nov 8, 2010

Gout: Painful, Annoying and Treatable

Gout. Sounds like something building contractors use to fill up holes, doesn’t it? The reality is gout is no laughing matter. It can wake you up in the middle of the night in screaming pain. It hurts to wear shoes, to walk. It puts you on the defensive around small children and pets who might inadvertently hit your inflamed foot.

Gout is not life-threatening, but it is joy-threatening. It’s a little black cloud that puts your personal alarm system on high alert, and that in itself is pretty draining. Here’s the good news: There are new treatments that are, with some lifestyle adjustments, effective. Even better, gout is often preventable.

So, what exactly is gout?

Surprisingly, gout is a form of arthritis that exclusively targets one specific place on your body – your big toe. It’s known for sudden severe attacks of pain around the large joint of the big toe. Many of my patients report waking up in the middle of the night in screaming pain and feeling like their big toe in on fire. Shoes, even socks, are painful to wear.

These attacks can last a few days or several weeks, and can spread to other joints in the feet, knees, ankles and hands. Generally speaking, gout only gets worse, so it’s best to see a doctor earlier rather than later.

Basically, gout occurs when you have unusually high levels of uric acid in your blood, which then forms sharp, needle-like urate crystals that accumulate around a joint to cause pain and inflammation.

Statistically, men between the ages of 40-50 are more prone to gout than women, as are those with a family history of gout. People who consume more than two alcoholic drinks a day, who have high blood pressure, diabetes, arteriosclerosis or hyperlipidemia are also candidates for gout. Left untreated, the urate crystals that cause gout can lead to kidney stones – a bullet you really want to avoid.

Snyder Stuart Podiatry Centers regularly – and successfully — treats patients with gout. At your first appointment, we will diagnose what may be happening with your inflamed toe. Sometimes a blood test to measure the uric acid level in your blood or a joint fluid test to confirm the presence of urate crystals is necessary. Quite often, however, we can determine with a simple examination and interview if the problem is gout.

Once it’s established that gout is the problem, we determine which medication is best for you to treat gout and to prevent further attacks. Generally, we start with a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAIDs) at a higher dose to stop the attacks, then a lower daily dose to prevent further attacks. Usually this does the trick, but if necessary, there are more powerful medications available to us.

Medication aside, one of the most powerful ways to control gout is also the same path to preventing this disease – by adjusting your diet. This includes (1) eliminating all alcohol, (2) doubling your intake of water and (3) cutting back to five ounces of protein (fish, meat and poultry) a day. That’s doable, isn’t it?

Also, new studies have shown that sensible quantities of coffee, cherries and Vitamin C have shown to reduce the uric levels, though we don’t know why.

If you or someone you know is suffering from gout, give us a call. We can set up an appointment, check out what’s going on, and then move you on to a healthier – and pain-free – path!

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Nov 8, 2010

Holiday Gift Baskets for Foot-Weary Warriors

How to Put Together a Neat Gift for Your Favorite Nurse, Teacher, Chef, Postal Carrier, Police Officer, Sales Person, Waiter, Surgeon, Masseuse, Etc.

At Snyder-Stuart Podiatry Centers, we could not be luckier!

Much too often, our patients walk in our doors in pain. Some are in such agony, they are fighting back tears. Then about 90 percent of the time, they walk out of our Podiatry Centers better. Maybe not skipping, but decidedly better.

Of course, some problems take more time to heal than others, and certain difficulties may even require surgery. But finding answers and – at the very least – at path toward becoming pain-free is usually uplifting to our patients.

All of us at Snyder-Stuart Podiatry Centers feel very blessed that we regularly can help people feel better, and often return to their normal activities pain-free after treatment here! We do not take this for granted.

From our satisfied patients, we get a lot of requests this time of year for ways of sharing the “good feet” experience with others. Yes, we have gift certificates for a range of services at SSPC, but we’ve also pulled together several ideas for small gifts, or a gift basket, that you can put together fairly easily. Some of the products we carry in our offices, others can be picked up at a drug or department store, and some may be ordered online.

If you exchange gifts this holiday season with a friend, relative or colleague who spends a lot of time on his or her feet, read on. Here are some ideas and specific directions that might help anyone move to “Happy Feet” status!

1. SSPC Gift Certificate: We love gift certificates! It’s fun to be able to pick out exactly what you want, and on your own time frame. SSPC offers gift certificates for any amount you choose, they are valid for one year and they can be applied to any product OR service SSPC offers. If there is someone who you’ve been nudging to visit SSPC, this is a great incentive!

2. Shoes: At SSPC, we carry a range of casual, running, walking and diabetic shoes designed to protect feet as well as address certain problems. This is something that requires the assistance of our professional staff for the person who is going to be wearing the shoes, so they can’t really be picked out by a third party. However, we do offer gift certificates that can be applied to the purchase of any of our shoes.

3. Insoles & Pads: Obviously we are big believers in foot pads and orthotics, both to help with an existing condition and to prevent damage to the feet. However, again these are custom-fit products which require a professional. If you suspect your gift-receiver would benefit from orthotics, we’d suggest a gift certificate that he or she can apply in our offices.

Here are some suggestions for smaller items that could go in a gift basket or Christmas stocking:

4. Walk Healthy Hygiene Treatments: If you’re a fan of SSPC, then you’ve heard us lecture about the value of hygiene solutions. They are designed to treat existing foot problems and even prevent difficulties down the road. We have sprays for your feet and for your shoes. Both dramatically reduce the growth of bacteria, yeast, mold and a range of foot funguses. They run between $11 and $20, and our staff can help you pick the one that’s right for your purposes.

5. Walk Healthy Arnica Gel Plus: This is a great product for the athlete or runner who regularly gets little twists and sprains. It is a topical gel that reduces the swelling and bruising from an injury. The price is $20 for a 3.3 ounce tube and is available at SSPC.

6. Walk Healthy Exfoliating Lotion: This along with a good pumice stone is one of the best preventive things you can do for your feet. It’s a topical lotion that helps to dissolve calluses and the rough, dry areas on your feet and heels. It runs $20 for an 8-ounce bottle at SSPC.

7. Walk Healthy Moisturizing Crème: If you read our blog for runners and marathoners earlier this Fall, you know how helpful it is to keep feet moisturized and smooth. It cuts down on the formation of calluses and reduces the chance of blisters. The price is $20 for an 8-ounce jar.

8. Walk Healthy Foot & Shoe Powder: This is the best way to wick perspiration away from your foot, and to protect against athlete’s foot. The cost for 4 ounces is $10 and this is available as SSPC.

9. PediFix Wart Stick: This is a popular product for our female patients. Warts on your feet can be painful, and are particularly annoying to those who shave their legs. This is a solid-base wart remover, meaning that the important wart-removal ingredient, salicylic acid, is applied through a wax-based applicator – an improvement over messy liquid products. This wart stick is $8.30, and you can pick it up at any SSPC location.

10. Dr.’s REMEDY Nail Polish: Finally, for the girly girl in your life, consider treating her to the best nail polish on the market today! We really support Dr.’s REMEDY Nail Polish. This product is enriched with naturally occurring antifungal ingredients such as garlic bulb extract and tea tree oil. Developed by a podiatrist, Dr.’s REMEDY has all of the good things and none of the bad!

Dr.’s REMEDY comes in many great colors and runs $20. This month, SSPC is offering a special: Buy three bottles and get the fourth free!

Additionally, if you’d like us to mail this gift to someone for you, we will ship them for free! (The available colors can be seen on our Web site at

We hope this gives you some ideas to shorten your holiday shopping list – and the wear and tear on your feet!

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Oct 21, 2010

SSPC’s Fabulous Foot Facials

What Are You Giving/Getting for Christmas?

Aesthetic podiatry. Unless you’re a devoted Allure magazine reader, you may not have heard of this emerging branch of medical foot care. After all, 90 percent of our patients first come to SSPC for strictly medical reasons: They are in pain and they need help. Whether it’s an ingrown toenail, an undiagnosed foot fracture, or excruciating heel pain, it is extreme foot discomfort that initially rushes people to our door.

Yet long before “aesthetic podiatry” emerged, we’ve performed certain procedures that fall more into the category of aesthetics rather than strictly medical. For example, foot funguses. This unattractive condition usually does not have powerful medical repercussions, but for those men and women who struggle with it, they often turn to podiatrist for a solution – and we have several solutions to offer our patients.

At SSPC, certainly our No. 1 goal is to provide you with exemplary medical treatment. But we wanted to go a step further beyond just pain-free. We think it’s OK to want your feet to look great as well as feel great. So, a few years ago, we “dipped our toe” into the field of aesthetic podiatry by introducing our SSPC Fantastic Foot Facial.

We were actually drawn to the idea of foot facials after literally thousands of patients over the years came to us to resolve a bad experience they had with an untrained pedicurist. Invariably, the problem was the result of someone who had massaged, manipulated, shaved, cut, trimmed, sliced or punctured the patient’s foot, which then led to bad things. We helped to resolve those problems.

But we got to thinking, “What could we do to go beyond fixing a foot problem to actually promote healthy feet?” Our solution? Fabulous Foot Facials!

What is a foot facial?
It involves a series of procedures, and just the way a good esthetician adjusts a facial to meet the needs of your face, we customize our Fabulous Foot Facials to address your particular needs.
Generally speaking, the SSPC Fabulous Foot Facial usually starts with exfoliation. After soaking in a warm bath, we remove dry, scaled skin and calluses. We may use a foot mask, or glycolic pads to soften and treat certain problem areas.

For “battle-worn” feet, we may do a deep-heated moisturizing mask. And where appropriate, we use creams that promotes the growth of collagen as it fills in fissures or cracks in the skin around the feet.

This all-important moisturizing step also gives us a chance to do a little massaging and make sure everything is in its proper place. Viola! You now have feet that look and feel 10 years younger!

There are additional procedures that we can do during a Fabulous Foot Facial for a separate charge. For instance, Nail Whitening is where we file and shape toenails, then bleach them, much like teeth whitening.

Botox treatments are available for the feet help to control exceptional foot odor and hyperhydrosis, a severe foot-sweating condition. (This is particularly popular with men and the results can last for up to a year.)

What aesthetic podiatry procedures do we not do?
We do not perform liposuction on the toes (yes, really), nor do we shave down bones to move a patient from a size eight to a size six (it’s called the “Cinderella procedure”). These are procedures that have limited demand in Hollywood – and that’s where you’ll have to go to find someone who will agree to do them. We do not.

However, if you are looking for a special gift for a soon-to-be bride, a husband whose feet are shredding your sheets, or a secret indulgence for yourself, give us a call. We can set up an appointment, or arrange for a gift certificate for an SSPC Fabulous Foot Facial!

Oct 21, 2010

The New Injectables: Foot Padding

An Alternative Solution to Lessen High-Heel Foot Pain

All month long we’ve been writing about foot pain – a subject we’re intimately familiar with here at SSPC! Recently, we looked specifically on the pain that comes from wearing high heels (“Treating High-Heel Addiction: Five Ways to Lessen Self-Inflicted Foot Pain”), and we hope many of those suggestions have worked for you.

In this blog, we’re focusing on a new, and in some circles slightly controversial procedure: Injectable foot padding. This is where an injectable substance, either fat, collagen or an hyaluronic acid, is injected in the balls and/or heels to add plumpness and cushion to the feet. This procedure is not painless, it is not cheap, and it is not for everybody.

Having said all that, for some women (men are not as prone to this problem), it is an appropriate solution when others have failed.

What is valuable to understand here is that for nearly all of us, the padding on the bottoms of our feet starts to deteriorate after the age of 40. For feet that are exposed to exceptional pressure, such as the pressure that comes from standing for long periods (like surgeons, nurses, chefs, retail associates, teachers, etc.), certain kinds of athletics, such as runners, and devoted high-heel wearers, the loss of natural padding is accelerated. In fact, even young and slender women in their 20s can start to lose their natural padding if they are die-hard high-heel wearers.

The result of losing one’s natural foot padding is pain. It’s much like walking around barefoot without the protection that shoes provide.

One solution? Injectable derma fillers in the foot.

While there are several to choose from, the filler we use most often at SSPC is the popular wrinkle filler, Restylane®. Originally developed in Sweden, the Restylane filler is a clear, non-animal-based, biodegradable gel that is composed of hyaluronic acid, a substance that naturally occurs in the body. Whether used on the face or the feet, Restylane lasts between six- and nine months for most patients.

Nevertheless, injectable foot padding falls under the category of an invasive procedure, and like any procedure, it carries some risk. However, our experience is the risk of complications is fairly low.

If you think you might be a candidate for injectable foot padding, please give one of our SSPC offices a ring and set up an appointment. We can help you decide the best course of action!

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Oct 12, 2010

Tips For Fall Marathoners: Start With Good Equipment for Long-Distant Running

Ever since the Jack Nicholson/Morgan Freeman movie, The Bucket List (2007), came out, I’ve noticed more of my patients have mentioned that running a marathon was on their lifelong “To Do” list. Bravo if you’re considering this! And, of course, I’m going to assume it’s with your primary care physician’s approval, right?

As a runner myself, I know the great things running does for your body and soul. As a podiatrist, I also know how hard it is on your feet. So, let’s talk a little foot care, shall we? There are several things you can do to protect your feet so they are in good shape to take you where you want to go.

The first thing is toenails. I can always tell a runner by his or her toenails. They are usually thicker than normal, and either yellow or black. The change in color and/or texture comes from running downhill, and unfortunately, it’s a fact of life for dedicated runners. It is usually not a health issue, just a cosmetic one that we can address in our office if it interferes with your career as a shoe model.

If you’re looking for an excuse to have a pedicure, here’s your chance. A runner’s toenail should be cut straight across, and a bit on the longer side. If you’re prone to ingrown toenails, the shape should be gently rounded out with a file.

Calluses, as you know, are a hardening of the skin. Blisters are soft pockets of fluid that form when friction rubs against the foot. Calluses and blisters are preventable, but keep in mind that both are defense mechanisms attempting to protect your foot.

Calluses form over time, and are easy to spot and eliminate with a pumice stone after every shower. Blisters are more problematic since they have the potential of becoming infected. Once a blister forms, you can swab the area with rubbing alcohol, then take a sterile pin or needle and drain the blister. Leave the skin intact since this forms a protective layer over the sensitive area of skin. Bandage with antibiotic ointment.

To prevent blisters, many runners coat their feet with Vaseline or some kind of lubricant to form a protective shield. (Remember, dry skin is prone to friction.) You can also wear two pairs of socks for extra protection, or invest in blister-free synthetic socks that will wick moisture away. Avoid the white, all-cotton athletic socks because they retain moisture.

Shoes are probably the biggest and most important investment a runner can make. As I’ve said with other shoe-shopping expeditions, it’s best to pick out shoes later in the day when your feet are more swollen. Bring your own runner’s socks with you, as well as any insoles or orthotics. All of these will help the salesperson calculate a better fit.

Try several different manufacturer’s shoes on, and in different sizes. There should be almost an inch between your big toe and the end of the shoe. I also recommend having two pair of running shoes so you can switch off each day. Here at Snyder/Stuart we are big fans of Aetrex running shoes. In fact, I have mine on right now! We carry them here in our office or you can now order them online, at our doctor-run site,

Also, the way you lace your running shoes matters. There are several ways to lace shoes to either avoid or compensate for certain problems like high insteps, wide or narrow feet, bone spurs or simply something rubbing you the wrong way. Runner’s World’ online magazine ( has great videos to show you precisely how to tie laces so you avoid certain difficulties.

Orthotics and insoles are two of my favorite subjects when it comes to foot health – I’d prescribe them for flip flops and bedroom slippers if I could! Here is what you need to keep in mind: The insole is the cheapest part of any shoe. Do you really want to be slamming hundreds of pounds of pressure on your delicate foot with very little cushioning between you and the pavement?

Here is what I can offer to inspired runners: If you are serious about running, bring your new (unworn) running shoes into SSPC and let us check them out for you. We can check the fit, they way their laced, the stress points, and if you need professional orthotics to further protect your feet.

Also, you may want to check out the line of men’s and women’s Aetrex running shoes that Snyder Stuart Podiatric Centers carries. After years of research, we chose to carry Aetrex because it represents the highest standards in comfort, breathability and performance. I wear them myself, as do many on our staff. We like the way Aetrex provides stability and shock attenuation in a high-performance shoe. And we’ve seen that the advanced technology and materials the company incorporates goes a long way toward keeping feet healthy, dry and cool while running.

Drop in and see us at SSPC. We’d love to show you a running shoe!

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