Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Beware of flip-flops

Posted by Dr. Brooke Austin

Flip-flops — the airy sandal held on the foot solely by a simple band between the two biggest toes — are back in full force. And that means foot problems.

Flips-flops come in a variety of styles and many women wear them both with their casual attire and with formal wear. But, while the popular footwear provides basic protection against hot pavement and catching athlete’s foot, flip-flops offer nothing in the way of foot support. They offer no arch support, heel cushioning or shock absorption. People who sport flip-flops for extended periods of time can suffer foot pain, tendinitis, plantar fasciitis and even stress fractures — not to mention blisters, stubbed toes and more serious injuries.

Wearing flip-flops forces the wearer to scrunch his or her toes to grip the flip-flip band at the wrong time in the gait cycle. The action shortens natural stride and forces the foot, hip and leg muscles to work harder, which can result in other muscles shutting down. For example, hammer-toes, a condition in which the toes are bent in a claw-like position, are the result of years of compensation from the small foot muscles.

The lack of arch support in most flip-flops can cause plantar fasciitis, inflammation of the thick band of tissue along the bottom of the foot that causes a stabbing pain, especially in the heel. Other injuries include shin splints and metatarsalgia, which causes pain and inflammation in the ball of the foot. People with flatter arches are more prone to such overuse injuries because they require more support for their muscles and ligaments.

One of the most serious problems is overuse injuries such as stress fractures of the metatarsals, the five long bones that reach out to the toes. A stress fracture happens after constant, repetitive stress to the bones. Because flip-flops leave the feet unprotected and exposed to the elements, wearers are more prone to cold toes, sunburns, stubbed toes and blisters. Serious injury can occur when people wear flip-flops for inappropriate tasks, such as mowing the lawn. You don’t have to quit wearing your stylish flip-flops, but take these precautions for when you do wear them:

• Limit wearing flip-flops to short periods of time. When you know you will be walking a great distance, change into appropriate walking shoes with proper support.

• Don’t use a flip-flop as an athletic shoe. They are designed to walk only on flat surfaces. People who run or jump in flip-flops risk sprained ankles, fractures and severe ligament injuries.

• Don’t wear flip-flops to cut the grass or operate equipment. They dramatically increase the risk of stubbed toes, lacerations and puncture wounds, or having a heavy object hit your foot.

• Avoid driving in flip-flops. According to the American Automobile Association, flip-flops increase the risk of car accidents because they impair a driver’s control if they come off the foot and lodge under the brake or gas pedal. Put on a suitable pair of shoes to drive.

Our office sells Orthaheel sandals which resemble a flip flop but have a built in arch support.

Please call today for you appointment 239-566-8800.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Fireworks injury results in woman losing her foot

Posted by Dr. Brooke Austin

Just as they do every year to celebrate the Fourth of July, sisters-in-law Lorena and Kristina Perez went to West Lawn Park on the South Side to watch neighborhood fireworks with their family and friends.

But as a set of four fireworks were launched into the air, one of them instead went straight to the ground, exploding at the feet of the Perez women.
Kristina’s left foot was blown off, according to a relative in their group, and Lorena suffered injuries to her left leg. Both were taken by ambulance to Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn.
“It seemed like it tipped over and came straight down,” said Fabian Carmona, 37, Lorena’s brother. “I don’t think she saw it coming.”
The Chicago Fire Department responded to several fireworks-related injuries, including burns, July 3 and 4 as unauthorized fireworks displays lit up the sky across the city. The Perez women’s injuries were the most serious, said fire department spokesman Lawrence Langford.
Kristina, 32, had her left leg amputated, and she suffered injuries to her right foot and an arm. Lorena, 36, was treated for a fractured leg and burns to her lower extremities, according to fire officials and a relative.
Kristina Perez, 32, began screaming when the stray firework hit her. “I went to look around and then I realized she was missing her foot,” Carmona said. “She was yelling, screaming. She was saying, ‘Get an ambulance. Get an ambulance.’ "
Lorena, who celebrated her birthday a day earlier, is missing a large area of tissue on her left leg, and a toe was badly burned, Carmona said.
The fireworks were unsanctioned but are an annual tradition in West Lawn Park, Carmona said. The injuries occurred between 10:30 and 11 p.m.
“We do it every year. We hang out at the park and watch them go up,” Carmona said. “I still can’t believe this happened.”
He said he doubts he’ll go to a fireworks display again. “I don’t want to be near that stuff. I am traumatized right now,” he said.
John Cole, who was watching the fireworks with this 11-year-old son, said he rushed over to the Perez women and wrapped a shirt around Kristina’s leg to try to stop the bleeding. He said other people used the lights from their phones to try to help.
Meanwhile other groups, not realizing what had happened, continued to launch more fireworks at the park near West 66th Street and South Keeler Ave.
“It was horrifying,” Cole, 46, said. “It could have happened to any of us.”

Please be careful when it comes to fireworks. If you do sustain an injury please seek medical assistance immediately. 239-566-8800