‘Tis the Season for Bug Bites

With the warmer weather here, unfortunately that means the bugs are, too.  This is an unfortunate side effect of the warmth, as far as I’m concerned. Pesky mosquitoes and other little critters are lurking all about already.  Rumor has it that this is going to be a bad year for bugs.  Seems like they say this every year. So, it is very important to try and protect yourself when you are encountering nature’s beauty.

So, what to do- besides stay inside and avoid the outdoors?  Well, the obvious is bug spray- although, it seems like the ones that contain “DEEP” work better than their safer less-toxic versions.  Because of the fear of toxic chemicals, a lot of people don’t feel great about putting these bug repellent sprays on their bodies or their kids’ bodies.

Another idea is to wear clothes and shoes that cover your skin.  However, as it gets hotter out, this isn’t a very comfortable option.  So, I have heard of home-made concoctions that repel bugs… what are some good ones?  Let’s see…Here is an option I found after searching online, thanks to “wellnessmama.com”:

  • Homemade bug spray made of: 1)Essential oils: choose from Citronella, Clove, Lemongrass, Rosemary, Tea Tree, Cajeput, Eucalyptus, Cedar, Catnip, Lavendar, Mint.  2) Natural Witch Hazel. 3) Distilled or boiled water. 4) Vegetable glycerin (optional)
  • Homemade Bug Spray Instructions: 1) Fill spray bottle (8 ounces works well) ½ full with distilled or boiled water  2)  Add witch hazel to fill almost to the top  3) Add ½ tsp vegetable glycerin if using 4) Add 30-50 drops of essential oils to desired scent.  The more oils you use, the stronger the spray will be.  According the “wellness mama”, her favorite mix is:  Rosemary, Clove, Cajeput, Lavender, Cinnamon and Eucalyptus.  It works great and smells good, too, she says!

I’m sure there are other options out there, as well, but this surely seems like a good start.   Anything that helps to avoid annoying bug bites that end up getting scratched and sometimes infected is a-okay in my book!

If you have an irritating wound on your foot or ankle, you should definitely have it seen by   Dr. Scott McKinney and his dedicated team of podiatrists. Infected wounds are nothing to mess around with.  Make sure you make an appointment at one of our eight convenient Houston area offices. We are always happy to help all patients and talk about options!

Work Related Weary Feet

Do your feet ache on a regular basis?  Do you have a job that keeps you on your feet all day long?  If so, there are some things you can do to help relieve the discomfort.  I don’t have to tell you how exhausted you can get from the long days on your feet.  Especially when you don’t get many chances to get off them and take a rest.  Some days they throb and ache in the evenings.  And unfortunately, this wear and tear can have more adverse effects on your feet than everyday aches and pains.

Besides symptoms like discomfort, fatigue and swelling in the legs, you also put yourself greatly at risk for musculoskeletal disorders.  Due to the strain on the feet, this spreads to the shins, calves, knees, thighs, hips and lower back.  Also, you may find yourself facing some serious health concerns in the future.

People that experience long periods of prolonged standing daily can experience coronary heart disease, varicose veins, and chronic venous insufficiency.  Work associated back pain is about twice as common in those who work standing compared to those who usually work sitting.  As people age, it gets harder for them to cope with constant standing, too.  They can develop or exacerbate arthritis, and get varicose veins.

So, the effects of standing all day can show up almost right away, and prolonged standing or walking can accelerate soft tissue injuries and health problems.  The list is long as to the damage that can be done!  It includes…

  • Plantar fasciitis
  • Muscle soreness and fatigue
  • Varicose veins
  • Lower back pain
  • Knee or hip arthritis
  • Pregnancy complications
  • Bunions
  • Neck and shoulder stiffness and pain
  • High blood pressure
  • Swollen or painful feet or legs
  • Various foot problems and pain
  • Circulatory and chronic heart disorders
  • Joint damage
  • Poor circulation in feet, which can lead to edema

The moral of this story is: if you must stand on your feet throughout the day because of your job, be sure to take breaks whenever possible to sit down!  Good luck, and if you do need some help with a foot issue, McKinney Podiatric Associates, P.A. skilled team have 8 Houston locations available for consultation & treatment of your foot or ankle woes!  Contact us!

Essential Oils for the Heels

Plantar Fasciitis is a condition that causes chronic heel pain.  Many of the treatments that are out there have side effects a person might want to avoid- steroids, prescription drugs, surgery… the options aren’t always the greatest.  So, many people look for alternative treatments to deal with it.  Essential oils is a popular choice we are seeing these days.  Some of the essential oils that can be used to treat this condition are:

  • Frankincense
  • Peppermint
  • Lemongrass oil
  • Grapeseed oil

Usually, the sufferer will apply the oil directly onto the inflamed tissue and massage the oils into the affected area.  They may also ingest the essential oils, as well.

People suffering from plantar fasciitis are often frustrated with this condition, hence the search for alternative methods for dealing with pain.  Your podiatrist should definitely assess the condition and advise what he or she thinks is the best route to go.  As far as essential oils go, some people swear by them, but there isn’t really any actual research to back up claims that essential oils can be used to effectively treat the symptoms of plantar fasciitis.

Due to this condition caused by wear and strain to the fascia, small tears and inflammation develop over time, due to improper support of the arch (fascia)- which is what leads to the heel pain.  Since this is the situation, the best way to treat it is to strengthen, cushion and support the base of the ligament.  So, if you’re suffering, you may want to try a combination of a visit to the podiatrist, the use of essential oils, and a change in footwear!  Also, the use of inserts can really reduce pain.  Using orthotic supports that the doctor sets you up with can make a big difference.

So, don’t let that heel pain get the best of you.  Call Dr. Scott McKinney and his team of board certified doctors to have a look at it. He has 8 different convenient locations in the Houston area to visit.  Any foot or ankle issue you are experiencing, he and his team can help!

Are Heel Spurs the Problem?

Recently, we had a patient come in to see us that was complaining that her heels were hurting her.  She said that even in some sneakers, she had pain.  She wasn’t sure what the problem was… however, she had noticed that her heel appeared to have a bumpy protrusion on it.  What she was experiencing is something we know as “heel spurs”.  Heel spurs are calcium deposits that cause a bony protrusion on the underside of the heel bone.  If you look at it on an x-ray, you can see that the heel spur can extend forward by as much a half-inch!  Sometimes, heel spurs are painless, but other times they can cause heel pain.  They can definitely add to some discomfort when walking, and wearing many types of shoes.

Occasionally a heel spur doesn’t show up on an x-ray, and this condition is known as “heel spur syndrome”.  Heel spurs are frequently associated with plantar fasciitis, which is a painful inflammation of the plantar fascia (the fibrous band of connective tissue) that runs along the bottom of the foot and connects the heel bone to the ball of the foot.  They are often caused by strains on the foot muscles and ligaments, stretching of the plantar fascia, and repeated tearing of the membrane that covers the heel bone.  For this reason, heel spurs are very common among athletes whose activities include large amounts of jumping and running.  If you are doing the following things, you are more at risk for heel spurs occurring…

  • If your walking gait tends to have you placing excessive stress on the heel bone, ligaments, and nerves near the heel.
  • If you wear poorly fitted or very worn out shoes, especially ones lacking appropriate arch support.
  • If you are carrying a lot of extra weight… obese people are more prone to heel spurs than people of average weight.
  • If you run and jog a lot, especially on hard surfaces.

The treatments associated with heel spurs and associated conditions include:

  • Exercise
  • Custom-made orthotics
  • Anti-inflammatory medications
  • Cortisone injections
  • Surgery, if all other treatments fail

If you are having any problems with heel pain, and you suspect heel spurs, help is only a phone call away.  Call Dr. Scott McKinney, he and his team of board certified podiatrists have 8 convenient locations in the Houston Area for patients to visit.

Are Bunions Cramping Your Style?

Is it sandal season again, and your feet are not ready to be bared?  You may be thinking it’s time to do something about that large bump jutting out at the base of your big toe- aka those unsightly bunions!  Bunions form at the joint at the bottom of the big toe when the bone or tissue at the joint moves out of place.  Years of pressure and abnormal motion on the joint forces the big toe to bend toward the others, which causes an often-painful lump on the joint.  Because this joint at the base of the big toe carries much of your weight while walking, bunions can cause severe and constant pain… Never mind how they look!

Bunions can run in families, but they also can be the result of the shoes we wear, or the way we walk.  Typically, bunions are seen more often in women, especially when they get older.  One might make the correlation between years of wearing high heels and the formation of bunions!  Doctors say that people who have flexible joints tend to tolerate their bunions more, but people with arthritis or stiff joints usually are troubled by their bunions more and may experience more pain due to them earlier than a person with flexible joints.

If you have bunions that are bothering you in any way, call Dr. Scott McKinney and his team of board certified podiatrists!  They offer eight convenient locations in the Houston area, so you can pick and choose which is easiest for you to get to!  Bunions are permanent unless they are surgically corrected.  However, there are some measures you can take to be more comfortable or to slow the progression of a bunion.  Sometimes, it’s simply a matter of wearing properly fitting shoes.  Other recommendations include:

  • Maintaining a normal weight
  • Protecting the bunion with a gel-filled or moleskin pad
  • Using shoe inserts to help position the foot correctly
  • If your doctor recommends, wearing a splint at night
  • Taking anti-inflammatory drugs, such as ibuprofen
  • Using warm soaks, ice packs, whirlpool, ultrasound and massage

So, by all means, try any of these things at home to try to help yourself.  Contact Dr. McKinney and his staff if you need any help with any foot problem you are experiencing!

The Salt of the Irish!

So, St. Patrick’s Day was just celebrated.  Whether you have a little Irish in you or not, many people enjoy celebrating St. Patrick’s Day with their family and friends.  What is the lure?  The corned beef and cabbage, the Guinness beer (and lots of it?!)  Socializing in that crowded bar full of rowdy people?!  Many people would say, “all of the above”.

If you are amongst the many who enjoy the treats associated with this holiday, take note… these foods and drinks aren’t always so friendly to our feet!  HUH, you may say?  Well, the meaning behind that statement is salt and alcohol intake, and how it affects our bodies- especially our feet!

The foods that we eat, and the alcoholic beverages we consume have an impact on the chemicals in our bodies, especially in our blood.  Sometimes, if the amount of sodium in our blood becomes imbalanced, it can lead to SWELLING- especially in the feet.  Some foods contain more salt than others-hmmm- could corned beef be one of them?! (wink wink)

Unfortunately, eating salty food and drinking a bit shall we say-excessively, can be a major combo that can induce swelling feet.  Usually if your feet begin to swell, you may be suffering from a condition known as edema.  Edema is caused by fluid getting trapped in the space between cells (aka the extracellular space).  This is most common in the extremities, particularly the feet and ankles, because gravity naturally pulls liquid down to these areas.  Edema can cause the affected tracts of skin to look stretched and shiny in nature, and pushing gently on the affected areas for 15 seconds or so can cause a visible dimple!

So, although swollen feet may not seem like such a serious worry, or medical condition… it can cause a number of different complications.  Swelling can become painful and result in the joints in the feet becoming stiff, making it difficult to walk.  The swollen feet and ankles are also at risk of developing infection.  Prolonged edema can also result in scarring and a loss of elasticity in the blood vessels, joints, and muscles.  Edema can also cause ulcers to form, and poor circulation!  NOT GOOD!

So, enjoy those celebrations, but try to balance out the extra salt and alcohol consumption with drinking lots of extra water!  And then, the next few days following the over-indulgence, watch your salt intake!

At the offices of Dr. Scott McKinney, and his professional team of podiatrists, we treat people suffering from edema, and many other foot and ankle ailments.  If you are suffering from any lower extremity problem, give him and his team a call.  They have 8 conveniently located Houston offices easily accessible for you to visit!  Call him now, and suffer no longer!

Career Stopping Foot Injuries

Professional athletes are sometimes unfortunate in the realm of sustaining foot injuries.  Many of these injuries can be treated, and they are lucky enough to get back to their game.  However, some athletes are unfortunate and among these poor souls they are forever hindered by a foot injury.  It is hard to believe that these injuries forever effect their game, in some way or another.

One of the common places we see foot injuries that are career stopping, is in the sport of basketball.  Yao Ming is one of the athletes that suffered from a career stopping foot injury.  He was a once-dominant NBA center, but hasn’t been able to play a game since 2010.  Yao had three successful seasons, but his fourth season was cut short, right before the playoffs! Why?  The athlete sustained a Jones fracture in his left foot, which was actually the same ailment that struck the athlete, Kevin Durant.

Yao managed to play effectively for five more seasons, but left foot troubles continued to plague him. Ultimately, a stress fracture ended his 2008 season.  After that, a hairline fracture which happened to his navicular bone took him out of the 2009 playoffs.  He was not able to play at all the following year.  And ultimately, after several appearances in the beginning of the 2010-2011 campaign, foot problems forced him to retire.  A sad basketball story… but not an isolated one, sadly to say.

Foot issues have long been prevalent in the game of basketball.  Many NBA players have suffered from them, and had their careers cut short.  Recurring foot ailments are the brunt of many an athletes’ downfall.  However, there are many foot injuries that can be successfully treated!  At the office of Dr. Scott McKinney, he and his team of skilled podiatrists, Drs. Jorge Cuza, Mark Moss, Francisco Cuza, Edna Reyes-Guerrero, and Hina Hassan are here for you.  This skilled team of podiatrists are ready to help with any foot affliction you may be experiencing.  They offer eight convenient locations to choose from, in the Houston Area.  If you’re experiencing foot pain, relief is only a call away- contact us today, and suffer no longer!

Does Your Little One Have a Broken Foot?

Are you worried that your toddler or young child may have a broken foot?  Does something just not seem right?  Well, parents have a way of knowing when their child is suffering.  However, toddlers and young children may ignore the symptoms of a break at certain times, which can throw off even the most doting parent.  Specifically, when they are sitting comfortably on their parent’s lap.  However, once made to stand, they may show signs of pain, and refuse to bear weight on their leg.  This is a big clue that the little one could possibly be suffering from a break.

Common symptoms for a broken bone in the foot include:

  • PAIN
  • A SNAPPING SOUND
  • LIMPING
  • BRUISING
  • SWELLING
  • TENDERNESS
  • WALKING MAY BE TOO PAINFUL TO BEAR
  • JOINT DISLOCATION
  • SUFFERERS OF OTHER CONDITIONS OR DISEASES THAT MAY HINDER THE PERSON’S ABILITY TO SENSE PAIN SENSATIONS CORRECTLY (diabetics fall into this category, as they have peripheral neuropathy)

When this happens (the diabetic’s altered pain sensation), pain may not be present, and the fracture can be missed initially-which can be problematic for the sufferer!  In the case of a toddler with a potential break in his or her foot, it is wise to have them seen by a podiatrist to have the situation assessed by a professional.

Drs. Scott McKinney, Jorge Cuza, Mark Moss, Francisco Cuza, Edna Reyes-Guerrero and Hina Hassan are trained podiatric specialists that take care of any foot ailment.  McKinney’s Podiatric Associates has 8 convenient Houston locations that are readily accessible for anyone in need.

When you bring your little one in, we will carefully examine your child’s foot.  He or she will check for feeling or movement loss, or any open breaks in the skin.  Your child may also need any of the following tests:  an x-ray, a CAT scan, an MRI, and/or a Bone Scan.

Once the diagnosis is made, and your child does, in fact, have a foot fracture, it is treated in various ways.  Various medicines are usually prescribed:  Pain medicines, antibiotics, or a tetanus shot.  A cast or splint may be needed on the foot and lower leg.  This immobilizes the foot and helps it heal.  Other times, surgery may be needed.  Contact us so we can get your little one all mended up and back to tip top shape!

How to Find the Podiatrist That’s Right for You

When thinking of your wellness team, a podiatrist might not be the first doctor that comes to mind.  However, a podiatrist is indeed just as important as an ophthalmologist or dermatologist or urologist.  Especially, if you’re diabetic!

So, how do you find the right podiatrist for you?  Well, keep in mind that podiatrists are specifically trained to diagnose and treat issues with the feet, ankles, and parts of the leg.  Your podiatrist is extremely important when you are facing issues with your feet relating to diabetes, arthritis, nerve issues, and any general foot malaise.

That being said, you’ll want an experienced podiatrist that is able to quickly and correctly diagnose your issue.  If you’re diabetic, you will want to establish a relationship with a podiatrist sooner rather than later.  Your podiatrist can help you minimize any complications from diabetes or other diseases.  At  McKinney Podiatric Associates, P.A. , he and his team of five board certified podiatric surgeons are trained to provide their patients with the finest medical, surgical, and rehabilitative treatments for the foot and ankle that are available.  When choosing your podiatric home, it is important that your doctor/doctors be trained in the most current foot and ankle treatment methods available in the field.

When choosing your podiatric home, you should also look at where the actual location of the offices are, and that they are convenient for you to get to.  Dr. McKinney has 8 convenient locations in the Houston area, which offers his patients many options to choose from!

Also, you will want to make sure you feel comfortable with your podiatrist and his or her bedside manner.  You will want to choose a doctor that you feel truly cares about your well-being, isn’t rushed, and takes the time to listen to your concerns.  Dr. McKinney and his team serve infants, children, teenagers, adults and the geriatric population and care for all our patients.   They also cater to athletes, helping them maintain optimal foot and ankle health to achieve their goals.  So, whatever your foot needs are, our team is ready to help. Call us or request an appointment at any of our convenient locations.

Listen up, Your Feet are Talking!

Did you know that our feet give us many, many clues about other things happening in our bodies?!  Well, they do!  Often, things happening to your feet can be indicative of more serious medical conditions. When changes occur in your feet and become chronic issues that you’re experiencing, your feet may be trying to tell you something!  Don’t ignore them!  At the offices of McKinney Podiatric Associates, P.A. and our board certified team, we see many patients who come in complaining of foot woes.  Sometimes, these issues ARE foot specific, however, other times, the feet are windows into the rest of the body’s issues.  Some of the things our feet can say to us about things happening in our bodies are exhibited by the following:

  • Numbness and Tingling: if this is happening in one or both of your feet, this can be indicative of Peripheral Neuropathy (a condition that diabetics experience).  Although, if you have numbness or tingles in just one foot, you could be suffering from a pinched nerve.
  • Foot Cramps: Are often an indication of dehydration!  However, if fluid intake is not the culprit, foot cramps can also indicate that your body is experiencing a potassium deficiency.
  • Cold Feet: If your feet are always freezing, this could mean you have a slow thyroid… hypothyroidism usually rears its ugly head in the beginning with chronic cold feet.
  • Flaky Feet: Can be a sign that you have a fungal infection or athlete’s foot.
  • Heel Pain: If you have sharp pains that shoot up your heel, into your calf, you probably have a condition called “plantar fasciitis”, which is a strain on the ligament of the foot that supports the arch.
  • A Swollen Big Toe: If your big toe swells up out of the blue, you may be suffering from gout.  This makes the toe red, hot, swollen, and painful!
  • Discoloration of the Toenails: Can be indicative of a nasty nail fungus!  McKinney can treat this issue with an anti-fungal treatment.

If you are experiencing any of the aforementioned conditions, contact McKinney Podiatric Associates, P.A. at any of our eight convenient Houston locations and request an appointment.   Don’t ignore your foot issues, as they may be trying to tell you something important about your overall health!