It’s winter here in the northeast. Of course our feet are going to be cold sometimes, especially when we spend long periods of time outside. But what if your feet are cold even when you’re inside? What if you are doing everything you should to keep warm, and your feet are cold anyway? What if you can’t get them to warm up? You might be dealing with Raynaud’s Disease.
For people with Raynaud’s, arteries to the toes go into spasm when stressed. The blood vessels narrow and blood supply is limited temporarily. This can also happen in the fingers.
In many patients, Raynaud's has no known cause. This is called primary Raynaud’s. In others, it is associated with an autoimmune disease, such as lupus, scleroderma, or rheumatoid arthritis, or with a circulation disorder such as Peripheral Arterial Disease or diabetes. It may also be the byproduct of taking certain medicines, smoking, frostbite, or repetitive stress from using vibrating power tools for many years at work. This is called secondary Raynaud’s.
Cold temperatures are the most common trigger for attacks. It’s normal for the body to narrow the small blood vessels to the skin and to open the blood vessels to the inside parts of the body to keep the body warm when exposed to cold. In people with Raynaud's, the body restricts blood flow to the skin more than it needs to. Feet and toes, and occasionally hands and fingers, become excessively cold and remain that way for prolonged periods of time.
During an attack of Raynaud's, your feet and toes will feel cold and numb and then turn white or blue. As blood flow returns and the fingers or toes warm up, they may turn red and begin to throb and hurt.
There is no cure for Raynaud’s Disease, but your foot doctor can help with effective treatment and there are steps you can take to minimize your risk of an attack:
- Keep your body warm.
- Wear insulated boots and wool socks.
- Keep feet dry.
- Quit or reduce smoking today.
- Avoid caffeine and alcohol.
- Reduce stress.
If you think that you may have Raynaud’s Disease, or if you have any other concern about the health and well-being of your feet, ankles, or lower legs, it’s time to see the podiatrist. Dr. Jason Grossman brings decades of experience and specialized education to the diagnosis and treatment of Raynaud’s Disease and other similar issues. Call Advanced Feet and Ankle Care at (732) 679-4330 or click here to schedule a convenient appointment in our comfortable Old Bridge or Sayreville offices today.
Chilblains, also known as pernio, are a common winter complaint. The condition occurs when the small blood vessels in the skin react atypically to rewarming after exposure to cold. People with circulatory ailments, including Peripheral Arterial Disease and diabetes, and those with limited mobility are at particular risk. Seasonal recurrence is typical.
Doctors don’t know why some people get chilblains and others don’t. Men and women are at equal risk. Older people tend to be more likely to get chilblains than younger people are. It is also believed that heredity, anemia, poor nutrition, hormonal changes, and environmental conditions are all contributing factors.
Chilblains are characterized by small red spots on the skin, especially on the feet or toes. These typically grow and become increasingly painful and itchy and may even swell. Occasionally, they dry out and create cracks or ulcers in the skin. These cracks are of particular concern, as they expose the foot to infection, already a risk for patients with circulation issues.
Chilblains usually clear up in a few weeks, or when the weather gets warmer. Until that happens, there are steps you can take to decrease their discomfort:
- Limit your exposure to cold. If possible, stay inside on especially frigid days.
- Keep your body warm. Dress in layers. Cover exposed skin.
- Wear wool socks and insulated boots. Always change out of damp clothing as quickly as possible.
- Creams and lotions such as over the counter hydrocortisone and calamine will help manage the itch of chilblains.
Getting Help for Chilblains
If your chilblains cause severe pain, if you suspect an infection, if your symptoms aren't improving after a few weeks, or if the symptoms extend past winter, it’s time to visit the podiatrist to rule out other conditions. If you have diabetes or another circulatory ailment, you should be seen for monitoring at the onset of chilblains, as healing may be delayed or impaired. Infection is a greater risk for you than for others.
Are you experiencing chilblains or any other issue related to your feet, ankles, or lower legs? Call Advanced Feet and Ankle Care or click here today to schedule a convenient appointment with Jason Grossman, DPM in our comfortable Old Bridge or Sayreville offices. Dr. Jason Grossman will examine your feet, diagnose any concerns, create an effective treatment plan, and provide comprehensive follow up.
You do curls for your biceps and lunges for your quads, but are you doing exercises to improve foot health? If not, it’s time to start! The bones, muscles, and soft tissues of your feet and ankles will benefit from exercises to promote strength and flexibility.
Walk for Strength
The single best exercise you can do for your feet is walking. With every step, you put your foot through its full range of motion, toning muscles and stretching ligaments and tendons. Further, walking is beneficial for cardiovascular health and can improve circulation, muscle tone, and mood. Get outside if you can. If the weather doesn’t permit a stroll in the park, head to a local mall (skip the food court!) or spend a few minutes on the treadmill.
Stretch to Improve Flexibility
Many patients find that increasing flexibility improves balance, which can help prevent falls that can cause foot and ankle injuries. Jason Grossman, DPM recommends the following at-home exercises to maximize flexibility.
- Sitting in a chair, warm up by drawing your foot toward you in interlacing your fingers between your toes. Squeeze your fingers with your toes, then use your fingers to spread your toes apart. Repeat 5 times on each side.
- Point your toes, then flex your ankles. This will help stretch out all the small muscles on the bottom of your feet. Repeat 10 times on each side.
- Loosen your ankles by rolling toward the outer edge of the foot, then the inner edge. Repeat 10 times on each side. Again, if balance is an issue, hold onto a stabilizing prop.
If you’re concerned about strength, flexibility, balance, or anything else related to the health of your feet, it’s time to visit the foot doctor. With years of specialized training and experience, your podiatrist is the best medical professional to address any issues related to your feet, ankles, and lower legs. Call Advanced Feet and Ankle Care at (732) 679-4330 or click here to schedule a convenient appointment with Dr. Jason Grossman in our comfortable, modern Old Bridge and Sayreville offices. Dr. Grossman will thoroughly examine your feet, accurately diagnose any current or potential areas of concern, create an individualized treatment plan, and offer comprehensive follow up.
Frostbite is a condition that occurs when the skin and tissue below it freezes. Because every cell in your body contains water, and water expands when it freezes; individual cells are therefore damaged when ice crystals form inside them. This causes damage to skin and soft tissue. The most common cause of frostbite of the toes and feet is exposure to the cold. The colder your body gets, the harder it works to maintain your core temperature and protect your brain and internal organs. Blood flow to your extremities becomes increasingly restricted, leaving your toes and feet susceptible to frostbite.
Skiers and hikers who do not effectively prepare for long periods of time outside in winter weather are particularly at risk of frostbite, but you’re vulnerable, too, even if you’re just heading outside to shovel the walkway. If you have diabetes or a circulatory illness such as Peripheral Arterial Disease or Raynaud’s disease, you are at particularly high risk, as your blood flow is already restricted.
The first signs that your skin is too cold will be discomfort, irritation, and redness. Greater exposure may produce burning and numbness as well as blistering and reversible damage to the outer skin layers. Eventually, there will be complete loss of sensation and permanent damage to all layers of the skin, arteries, muscles and tendons.
Frostbite can be prevented by limiting exposure and keeping the feet as warm and dry as possible. Wear layers to maintain core temperature, wool socks, and insulated boots. Change your socks if they become damp. Use common sense. Keep alcohol consumption to a minimum while you’re out there, and don’t hesitate to drink a little extra hot cocoa if the opportunity arises. If you’re hiking in the winter, stick to the trail, and make sure that someone knows where you are. Cigarette smoking diminishes circulation and increases risk of frostbite. Your doctor can help you cut down or quit today.
If you suspect that you have developed even a mild case of frostbite, call for help and get medical attention as soon as possible. Move to a warmer area to prevent further damage. Have something warm to drink. Soak the affected area in warm (not hot) water. Do not rub vigorously or apply direct heat, as diminished sensation can lead to burns.
If you are concerned about frostbite or anything else related to the health and wellbeing of your feet, ankles, or lower legs, please click here or call Advanced Feet and Ankle Care at (732) 679-4330 to schedule an appointment with Jason Grossman, DPM in our comfortable and convenient Old Bridge or Sayreville offices. You can be sure that Dr. Jason Grossman will provide you with a thorough examination, accurate diagnosis, individualized treatment plan, and comprehensive aftercare. You’ll be back on your feet before you know it.