Monthly Archives: August 2011

Unhappy Feet

053 Pillsrecent study in the Archives of General Psychiatry found that in the past decade the number of Americans taking antidepressants has doubled.  Psychiatrists are not prescribing most of these antidepressants because the majority of Americans taking antidepressants are not being treated for depression. The drugs are not being used to treat a mental health problem so it’s unnecessary to call in the mental health specialists.

Using antidepressants to treat conditions other than depression might sound wrong, but some drugs have more than one use. The FDA must initially approve a new drug for a specific condition, for example, treating depression.  If a new use for a drug is discovered, doctors are free to prescribe it for that use as long as they find it justifiable. After many studies and trials, the FDA might approve the drug for a new purpose beyond what it was originally invented for.

So how is this relevant to podiatry? According to Dr. Vimal Reddy, a variety of diseases—including diabetes—result in painful tingling sensations in the feet, peripheral neuropathy. It has been discovered that certain drugs used to treat depression also have the benefit of reducing these painful sensations. Under the care of a physician, these drugs are generally safe and can provide relief for those suffering from peripheral neuropathy. With the diabetic population growing, even in Jacksonville FL, more people will suffer from peripheral neuropathy and seek the relief these antidepressants may provide.

Basketball and Stress Fractures

052 Yao MingAfter nine years with the Houston Rockets Yao Ming announced his retirement. Affecting his decision to retire was a stress fracture in his left foot. While it is not stated which bone he fractured, it is probably his heel bone (calcaneus), or his second metatarsal—one of the bones of the front of the foot where the toes attach.

Stress fractures are a consequence of repeated weight on a bone without enough periods of rest. It is especially common in sports such as basketball, tennis, dance, and gymnastics, because an athlete will need to literally stay on their toes during play and training.

Whether you are the star center of the Houston Rockets, or a weekend warrior in a local league around Jacksonville, FL The First Coast Foot and Ankle Clinic has these recommendations to help prevent stress fractures:

  • Avoid doing too much too soon: Instead, build your way up, setting incremental goals, so your body can become accustomed to your level of activity.
  • Diet: include foods rich in calcium and vitamin D to strengthen your bones.
  • Rest your feet! This will give your bones a chance to recover from the stress you put them through.
  • If it hurts, stop! Stress fractures are tiny, but painful. In fact, they are often not detectable on X-ray. The good news is that fractures are small enough to recover quickly, and, with adequate preventative measures, you’ll be back in the game!

Putting your Achilles in Jeopardy

“Jeopardy” host Ale051 Alek Trebekx Trebek recently made headlines after injuring his Achilles tendon.  When his hotel room was broken into, Trebek chased the burglar down his hallway until he heard a loud pop from his heel.  This is the attachment point for the Achilles tendon, a thick, rope-like structure that connects the powerful calf muscles to the heal bone. A ruptured Achilles tendon is one of the most severe injuries that can occur in the leg, and it must be repaired surgically. Fortunately for the game show host, it looks like he will have a speedy recovery.

While this took place on the West Coast, Dr. Vimal Reddy has some lessons for us here in Jacksonville, FL about what we can do to prevent this devastating injury from happening.

  • Stay in shape. At age 72, Mr. Trebek probably leads a less active lifestyle.  For those of us who are able however, staying in reasonably good shape is the best way to prevent injuries in general.
  • Warm up before exercising.  Of course, if you need to chase a burglar down a hallway, you may not have a chance to warm up. However, if you do some brisk walking to get your calf muscles warmed up, you lessen the chance of injuring your Achilles.
  • Strengthen your calf muscles. A good way to do this is to stand up on your toes and then slowly lower yourself down. Lowering oneself down in a slow, controlled manner will really build up strength.
  • Wear the proper shoe gear. Dr. Reddy may sound like a broken record saying this, but wearing the right shoes goes a long way to preventing injury!

051 Ruptured-Achilles-TendonAs a podiatric surgeon and sports medicine specialist at the First Coast Foot & Ankle Clinic, Dr. Reddy is qualified to perform Achilles tendon repair surgery. Consult with Dr. Reddy for a detailed assessment of your foot structure and recommendations for exercising your legs to prevent such injuries.

Keep the Blood Flowing!

050 val5When is the last time you showed off or took a good look at your legs?  Celebrities like Heidi Klum have made a career out of showing off her legs.  Even going as far as having them insured!

One of the body’s amazing adaptations is the network of vessels carrying blood from the heart to the feet and back again. Arteries transport blood away from the heart to the feet, and our veins are equipped with valves and muscular pumps to move the blood against gravity back to the heart.

As we age some will find that the veins of the lower leg have a harder time carrying the blood back up, causing blood can to pool in the lower leg. This will result in swelling (edema)and veins that pop out—varicosities.  Unfortunately, there is not much we can do to prevent varicose veins. The most important factor is genetics, so look to your parents to see what may be in store for your legs. Also, women are particularly at risk.

If you have swollen legs, ankles and varicose veins, Dr. Vimal Reddy recommends:

  •  Elevating your legs above the level of your chest: This way, your veins can work with gravity instead of against it! So sit back, kick your feet and chill.
  • Compression stockings: available at the First Coast Foot & Ankle Clinic, over the counter or as a prescription. These will compress the feet and legs, preventing blood from pooling in them. To get the most out of your compression stockings, make sure you put them on the moment you get out of bed in the morning and wear them all day.  This may mean you will need to start showering at night.
  • In severe cases, more advanced treatment may be necessary. Consult with Dr. Reddy to determine the best strategy for dealing with your varicose veins.