From bunions to broken toes, local foot and ankle surgeon has heard it all
“Don’t cross your eyes, they’ll stay that way!”
Old wives’ tales and myths like that example are fun to laugh at. We believed them as children. “Step on a crack and you’ll break your mother’s back.” But there are other myths that are no laughing matter, especially when they involve your health.
From bunions to broken toes, foot and ankle surgeon Jeff Merrill DPM, FACFAS, has heard it all. Dr. Merrill treats patients in Klamath Falls. He shares five myths about foot care and the realities behind them.
Myth: Cutting a notch (a “V”) in a toenail will relieve the pain of ingrown toenails.
Reality: When a toenail is ingrown, the nail curves downward and grows into the skin. Cutting a “V” in the toenail does not affect its growth. New nail growth will continue to curve downward. Cutting a “V” may actually cause more problems and is painful in many cases.
Myth: My foot or ankle can’t be broken if I can walk on it.
Reality: It’s entirely possible to walk on a foot or ankle with a broken bone. “It depends on your threshold for pain, as well as the severity of the injury,” says Dr. Merrill. But it’s not a smart idea. Walking with a broken bone can cause further damage.
It is crucial to stay off an injured foot until diagnosis by a foot and ankle surgeon. Until then, apply ice and elevate the foot to reduce pain.
Myth: Shoes cause bunions.
Reality: Bunions are most often caused by an inherited faulty mechanical structure of the foot. It is not the bunion itself that is inherited, but certain foot types make a person prone to developing a bunion. While wearing shoes that crowd the toes together can, over time, make bunions more painful, shoes themselves do not cause bunions.
Although some treatments can ease the pain of bunions, only surgery can correct the deformity.
Myth: A doctor can’t fix a broken toe.
Reality: Nineteen of the 26 bones in the foot are toe bones.
“What I tell patients is, there are things we can do to make a broken toe heal better and prevent problems later on, like arthritis or toe deformities,” Dr. Merrill says.
Broken toes that aren’t treated correctly can also make walking and wearing shoes difficult. A foot and ankle surgeon will x-ray the toe to learn more about the fracture. If the broken toe is out of alignment, the surgeon may have to insert a pin, screw or plate to reposition the bone.
Myth: Corns have roots.
Reality: A corn is a small build-up of skin caused by friction. Dr. Merrill says many corns result from a hammertoe deformity, where the toe knuckle rubs against the shoe. The only way to eliminate these corns is to surgically correct the hammertoe condition.
Unlike a callus, a corn has a central core of hard material. But corns do not have roots. Attempting to cut off a corn or applying medicated corn pads can lead to serious infection or even amputation. A foot and ankle surgeon can safely evaluate and treat corns and the conditions contributing to them.
To make an appointment with Dr. Merrill, contact his office at 541-850-6463 or visit his Web site at www.klamathfallsfootandankle.com. For additional foot care myths, visit the American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons’ consumer Web site, FootHealthFacts.org.
Bring your sore toes to Klamath Falls Foot & Ankle, LLC
Ingrown nails are essentially a battle for real estate on your toe. The nail fold, or skin adjacent to your nail, and the actual nail itself want to occupy the same location. The fight for this area is sometimes exacerbated when we cut our nails and leave a jagged edge in the corner of the nail. Oftentimes we are able to relieve the symptoms by cutting the jagged edge of the corner of the nail to relieve pain.
However, when a person develops an ingrown nail multiple times, the first questions to ask are, "Am I cutting the nail properly?" and "Do I allow the edge of the nail to grow out past the nail fold, or do I cut the nail deep into the corner?" The second thought to consider is, "Perhaps I should have the painful portion of the nail removed permanently so the ingrown nail never causes pain again." With the use of a chemical to eradicate the root of the nail, there is almost no chance that the painful border will ever grow back. The procedure takes about 30 minutes and is done in our office. If you happen to suffer from recurrent ingrown toenails, we look forward to serving you and freeing you from this pesky, painful problem!
-Jeff Merrill, DPM, FACFAS
Is foot surgery in your future? Today we're sharing some simple tips and two infographics to help you have the best experience possible. Before your surgery, create a personalized plan to minimize your stress following the operation. As you plan, you should consider preparing your home, arranging for transportation for yourself, planning your work schedule, stocking up on groceries, and asking friends and family for help.
Following your surgery, take your pain medication as directed, keep your incision and bandages dry and clean, and follow the instructions you were given on how much weight your can put on your foot. In addition, you can reduce swelling by elevating and icing your foot according to the instructions you received from your podiatrist. Finally, be sure to call your podiatrist if you have any questions or experience any problems. With careful planning and attention to your post-surgery care, you will help to create your best foot surgery experience.
Are you considering foot surgery? Podiatrist Dr. Jeff Merrill provides foot and ankle care for all ages in Klamath Falls. He is certified in foot surgery by the American Board of Foot and Ankle Surgery®. Also, he is board certified with the American Board of Podiatric Medicine.
Klamath Falls Foot and Ankle, LLC Staff