FAQs

Surgery

Should I cut off my wart?

No, you should definitely not attempt to cut off your own plantar wart. To start with, warts are caused by a virus (HPV) and cutting off the growth will not actually cure it. In time, the wart will likely grow back. More importantly though, performing home surgery puts you at unnecessary risk for an infection that could develop into a serious issue.

Warts are unsightly and, depending on their location, may lead to discomfort, but they are not harmful and may eventually go away on their own. There are other home care treatments that are considerably safer if you really want to get rid of one sooner, but your best course of action is simply to leave it to the professionals.

Instead of attempting to cut off your wart, make an appointment with Southern Oregon Foot & Ankle, L.L.C., and let us handle it for you. We provide sterile equipment and trained professionals who will ensure that the procedure is performed correctly and safely. Contact our Medford, OR office by calling (541) 776-3338 or using our online form to request an appointment today.

What is a stress fracture?

A stress fracture is a tiny crack in bone, often the result of overuse. Most of these fractures happen in the weight-bearing bones of your lower limbs and appendages. When your muscles become fatigued due to the repeated stresses that happen with high-impact sports like basketball or long distance running, they do not absorb as much shock as they typically would. This transfers the pressure (stress) to your bones.

Your bone tissue undergoes a perpetual cycle of resorbing and regenerating cells. When it is tasked with handling the extra pressure, it resorbs at a faster rate than it regenerates and this leads to tiny fissures in the tissue. With repeated trauma, these fissures become fractures.

If you feel that you may have fractured one of the bones in your toes, feet, or ankles, contact Southern Oregon Foot & Ankle, L.L.C. Our office is conveniently located in Medford, OR and we will be happy to help. We’ll provide an accurate diagnosis and create an effective treatment plan so that you can resume normal activities in a timely fashion. Call us at (541) 776-3338 or use our online form to schedule an appointment today.

How long does it take to recover from bunion surgery?

Like any surgery, the length of the recovery period depends on the severity of the condition and the way the surgery was performed. A significant bunion that needs a more complicated surgery takes longer to heal than a smaller and simpler one. Generally recovery takes anywhere from six weeks to a several months, though it could possibly be longer if the correction you needed was extensive or if complications arise.

After the surgery, you will need to both rest your foot and keep your incision site clean and clear to prevent infection and encourage healing. We will let you know when you are able to put weight on your foot again. Though you will need some time off from work after the surgery, how long depends on the demands of your job. If you have a painful bunion that isn’t being relieved by conservative treatments, surgery might be your best option. Don’t wait and let the pain disrupt your life. Contact Southern Oregon Foot & Ankle, L.L.C. in Medford for an appointment or more information by visiting our contact page or by calling (541) 776-3338.

When is nerve surgery necessary?

When a neuroma—a pinched nerve or nerve tumor—develops in your foot, it can be the source of pain and discomfort. How do you know if it is time to consider nerve surgery to address the issue?

The answer to this depends at least somewhat on the severity of the condition. If we are able to manage the symptoms with the use of conservative care, surgery might not be necessary. A concern with a neuroma, though, is that the condition may progress and cause permanent damage over time. In such a case, we would recommend undergoing a surgical procedure to remove the affected nerve.

If you are experiencing nerve pain or discomfort in your foot and would like to know if you are a candidate for nerve surgery, contact Southern Oregon Foot & Ankle L.L.C. and we can discuss your situation. Call us at (541) 776-3338 for additional information or schedule an appointment online today to come in and see us at our Medford, OR office.

Athletic

Can I still run with sesamoiditis?

Sesamoiditis, the inflammation of the tendons surrounding the sesamoid bones, is commonly associated with pain beneath the big toe, swelling of the area, and difficulty or pain when moving the big toe. Many patients often wonder if it’s possible for them to continue rigorous exercise, like running, with this foot condition.

As the sesamoids act as pulleys for the majority of movement within the foot, any recurring motion or pressure to the feet tends to impact them negatively. Running, as well as any other high impact activities, should be avoided until the sesamoiditis has been eliminated. In place of these activities, many patients often choose to take up cycling or swimming as it allows for the feet to recover more easily.

This foot condition can often be remedied by rest, icing, and the use of orthotics. In some extreme cases the sesamoids can be removed to eliminate pain, but this is an irreversible surgery that can lead to other biomechanical issues.

Dr. Evan Merrill or Dr. Adam Gerber can help you find the treatment that’s best suited for you. Our Medford, OR office can be reached at (541) 776-3338 or appointments can also be scheduled online.

What does R.I.C.E. stand for?

Staying physically active is very important—for weight management, cardiovascular fitness, and many other health benefits. There is a risk of injury though, particularly in a sport such as running. Taking training too far, too quickly, wearing a poor-fitting pair of shoes, or landing on an uneven surface can lead to a number of foot or ankle injuries.

The term R.I.C.E. is an acronym used to describe the treatment you should take immediately after an injury. With an ankle sprain for example you would start with “R” which stands for rest—taking weight off your foot to remove pressure and further strain. Second, “I” stands for icing your ankle to alleviate pain and swelling. Third, the “C” stands for compression, which means wearing a bandage or compression sock to also help with inflammation. Last, the “E” is for elevation—keeping your ankle elevated above your heart will also help reduce swelling and pain.

If you have a foot or ankle injury or require further information about foot care, contact Southern Oregon Foot & Ankle. You can reach our Medford, OR office by calling (541) 776-3338 or you can request an appointment online.

Are certain running shoes better for flat feet?

Yes, there are certainly some running shoes that are better for individuals who have flat feet than others. The companies that manufacture footwear for runners have become smarter throughout the years with regard to engineering their products. Part of this means that they now offer models that can accommodate any arch style, including fallen arches.

It is important to know what to look for when you are in the market for running shoes. If you have flat feet, you should seek out models that offer superior support, stability, and motion control.

Finding shoes that provide motion control is good, but even better is having our experts prepare custom orthotics for you. We will measure your foot and analyze your gait to create medical inserts for your unique feet.

Here at Southern Oregon Foot & Ankle, L.L.C., we can help you pick out appropriate footwear and provide you with custom orthotics. All you have to do is contact our Medford, OR office by calling (541) 776-3338 or using our online form to request your appointment today.

Skin and Nails

Is laser treatment for fungal nails safe and effective?

Laser treatment for fungal nails is still a fairly new advancement in medical technology. As with anything new, patients sometimes wonder if this form of treatment is safe and effective.

To start, laser therapy is completely safe. All drug products and medical equipment used in our country has to be approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). This agency is responsible for ensuring the safety of these things that can have tremendous impacts on our physical health. Laser therapy for toenail fungus is FDA-approved.

Now, being safe and being painless aren’t exactly the same. We have good news, though – fungal nail laser treatment is also painless. You may experience a slight warming sensation, but this is rather minimal.

With regard to effectiveness, laser treatment eradicates the fungus responsible for your discolored, unsightly nails. Before this technology was developed, there were two options for fungal toenail treatment – oral and topical medication. Laser therapy combines the best parts of both, without their respective downsides.

Topical medication can address fungus on the surface of a nail, but cannot reach spores living underneath. Laser light safely travels through the nail to reach those hard-to-get spores. Oral medication travels through the bloodstream and can get to the spores, but it may produce undesired side effects. There are no side effects with laser therapy.

Given that laser therapy is a safe, painless, and effective way to treat toenail fungus, there’s no need to live with the embarrassment of toenails discolored by a fungal infection. Contact Southern Oregon Foot & Ankle online today, or schedule an appointment for our Medford, OR office by calling (541) 776-3338.

Why are my toenails yellow and splotchy?

There are various reasons toenails can become yellow, but the most likely explanation is a case of toenail fungus. Fungal infections in the toenails are rather common. The responsible fungi are microscopic—so you will not see them and know to avoid the tiny spores—and often reside in areas where people walk barefoot (gym locker room floors, communal showering areas, indoor pool decks).

Beyond fungal toenails, other causes of yellow toenails include diabetes, tuberculosis, bronchiectasis, jaundice, psoriasis, and thyroid problems. In some cases, nails become yellowed simply due to natural aging processes. There is also an extremely rare genetic disorder known as “yellow nail syndrome,” which can be seen in conjunction with lymphedema.

If your toenails are yellow due to a fungal infection or diabetes, be sure to come in and see us here at Southern Oregon Foot & Ankle. As discussed in the video above, we offer laser treatment for fungal nails that is both effective and safe. Keep in mind the fact that toenail fungus will not go away on its own. There are also special measures you need to take with regards to diabetic foot care and potential infections.

Of course, you should request an appointment with our Medford office if you are suffering from any other foot or ankle condition as well. For more information about either foot care or our practice, or to schedule your visit, simply give us a toll-free call at (844) 899-6826 and our staff will be glad to help.

How do I make my toenails stronger and healthier?

Healthy toenails are important for protecting the ends of your digits, so taking care of them is worth the investment. Make sure you keep them clean and well-trimmed. Wash them carefully when you scrub your feet every day, and clip the nails straight across so they are less likely to become ingrown. If you file the nail as well, don’t use a sawing or back-and-forth motion. Instead, file from the outside edges toward the center. When you moisturize your feet, rub some lotion or ointment on top of the nails, too. Don’t cut your cuticles at all—that can open your body to infection. Instead, gently push them back from the nail with a cuticle pusher.

If you’re concerned about the strength of your nails, or notice thickening, discoloration, curling, or other unusual distortions, don’t ignore it. Instead, contact the experts at Southern Oregon Foot & Ankle, L.L.C. for more information or an appointment to check for infections or other problems. Visit the online contact page or call (541) 776-3338 to reach our Medford office.

Why is my toenail turning black?

There are various reasons why toenails turn black and discolored. Some of the more common include physical trauma or injury to the nail, fungal infection, running (or other athletic activities), and tight, ill-fitting shoes. In extremely rare cases, black toenails are the indication of malignant melanoma.

In many cases, the black coloration is an indication of blood that has pooled between the nail and its corresponding nailbed. This may involve either the entire nail or just a part of it, and can cause tremendous discomfort due to pressure from fluid buildup. (We can safely drain the fluid and relieve the pressure.)

Fungal infections can also lead to nail discoloration. When this is the case, you will need treatment that may include topical or oral medication or laser therapy, since the condition does not clear up on its own.

When it comes to malignant melanoma, early detection and treatment offer the best chance for successful recovery. For this reason, it is a wise decision to make your appointment with Southern Oregon Foot & Ankle, L.L.C., when you first note discoloration. Call us at (541) 776-3338 or schedule your appointment with our Medford, OR office online.

What is the proper way to trim my toenails?

Cutting the toenails regularly can go a long ways toward the prevention of conditions like ingrown and pincer toenails. It may be easier to cut the nail immediately after bathing, as it will be softer and more pliable. When trimming the nail make sure to cut straight across; a curved edge will promote lateral growth of the nail and will often cause the nail to grow into the surrounding areas of skin. If you find a problem like a hangnail or ingrown toenail, it is best to let our professional staff solve that problem for you. Improper treatment of nail conditions can develop into more serious complications with the onset of infections.

If you notice any changes in the condition of your nails, call our Medford office at (541) 776-3338. Don’t delay, as nail conditions only worsen with time. We have extensive training in the treatment of these toe problems.

Orthotics

Are CrocsRX™ good for my feet?

You know how the trendiness of Crocs spread quickly, but did you know some styles made especially to protect your feet? Crocs work shoes and RX models are designed with such features as extra-depth to make room for shoe inserts, shock-absorbing foot beds, and toe caps with extra protection. These styles give you all the lightness and comfort of their regular style, but with added support for working feet, and relief for foot problems that may be causing you pain and discomfort. Conditions that can benefit from these casual shoes include bunions, arthritis pain, diabetic issues, heel bruises, and foot irregularities.

If you have foot pain, come in and see Dr. Evan Merrill or Dr. Adam Gerber at Southern Oregon Foot and Ankle. They can provide you with other helpful recommendations as well as expert foot care to fit your needs. Just call (541) 776-3338 or stop by our Medford, OR, office today.

Is wearing high heels bad for my feet?

Yes, high heels can be bad for your feet and can lead to many different foot problems. High heels can cause what’s often called a “Pump Bump,” which is a painful bump on the heel caused by the rigid shoe material rubbing up against your heel. This can cause blisters and painful swelling.

High heels also force your feet into an unnatural position that puts stress on the balls of the feet. This causes the bones and nerves surrounding that area to become inflamed and painful. Chronic pressure can also lead to hairline fractures in the balls of your feet. You also have to be careful while wearing high heels because you are less balanced and can easily lose your footing and twist or sprain your ankle.

Wearing high heels occasionally is not bad. However, you should limit how often you wear them. If you love heels but still want to care for your feet, try a lower heel or shoes with chunkier heels, which will help you maintain balance.

If you are experiencing chronic foot pain, or have questions regarding your foot health, feel free to call Southern Oregon Foot & Ankle, L.L.C., and let us provide the help and answers you need. Call our Medford, OR office at (541) 776-3338 or use our online form to schedule an appointment today.

Can orthotics help treat heel pain?

There are a variety of causes of heel pain—plantar fasciitis, heel spurs, Sever’s disease—but orthotics are an effective nonsurgical treatment for such conditions. Orthotics are custom made inserts intended to treat an array of conditions. Unlike the mass-produced inserts bought in retail stores, these inserts are based on a patient’s unique foot structure and created by highly-skilled professionals.

When you come to our office with pain in your heel, we will first diagnose the condition and then consider the available treatment options. In addition to customized medical devices, other conservative treatment methods include rest, activity modification, ice, and even over-the-counter pain relievers. What is important is that you start by making an appointment to see a trained professional, like the ones you find at Southern Oregon Foot & Ankle, L.L.C.

Whether you would benefit from a pair of orthotics or from another form of treatment, you can be assured you will receive the care you need at our practice. We will provide an accurate diagnosis and develop a treatment plan that takes away your pain and discomfort. Schedule an appointment at our Medford, OR office by calling (541) 776-3338 or using our online form today.

Foot Pain & Conditions

What are the most common conditions seen by a podiatrist?
There are a wide variety of foot conditions, and a few have become much more common than others. This is largely due to human nature, prolific microorganisms, and hereditary causes.

Some common foot conditions include:

Bunions – Bunions develop as the foot slowly becomes deformed due to poor foot mechanics and is worsened by pressure from shoes. Corns and Calluses – These tend to develop as a result of friction between the foot and shoe. Dry Skin – Dry skin occurs for many reasons and can be treated with moisturizers and mild soaps. Fungal Infections – These are generally caused by excessive shoe wear. Damp socks and shoes that are not changed periodically create the perfect environment for the growth of fungi. Hammertoe – As the tendons that control movement within the foot become shorter, the joint can stiffen and enlarge into a hammertoe. Ingrown Toenails – The pain that comes with this common nail condition is caused by the toenail piercing the skin of the toe. This is most common in the big toe. Spurs – Spurs are growths composed of calcium formed by a strain on foot muscles. Standing for long periods of time, improper footwear, and weight issues can cause spurs. Warts –The result of a virus–podiatric assistance is usually required.
What is the difference between hammertoes and mallet toes?

Hammertoes and mallet toes are conditions that have a lot in common, but they are separate disorders and affect slightly different areas. Both are common problems that affect joints in the smaller toes—especially the second digit, next to the big toe. They both cause the joints they affect to bend and stiffen. They are also both affected by your footwear choices and foot mechanics: shoes that squeeze your toes or an existing problem that puts unnatural pressure on your toes can induce either issue. The difference is the joint that each affects. A hammertoe affects the middle joint, while mallet toe bends the one closest to the nail.

Fortunately, both hammertoe and mallet toe can be easily managed with conservative treatments. Shoe changes and exercises that stretch out and strengthen the toes can reduce the pain and straighten the affected areas. Sometimes orthotics can also help. If you’re experiencing pain or trouble in your toes, don’t wait and allow them to stiffen to the point that you need more involved treatment to deal with the problem. Instead contact Southern Oregon Foot & Ankle, L.L.C. for an appointment or more information by calling (541) 776-3338.

What is the difference between a bunion and bunionette?

Bunions and bunionettes are related conditions that are both centered on a toe moving out of position and the resulting problems in the respective metatarsophalangeal joint (MTPJ). The key difference between the two is that a bunion happens with the big toe and a bunionette on the other side of the foot, with the little toe.

In each case, the toe starts to bend inwards towards the other four toes. This results in the end of the toe bone that is closest to the foot jutting out to the side. In the case of a bunion, the bone juts in towards the middle of your body. For a bunionette, it juts to the outside edge of your foot. In both cases, there is a bump at the MTPJ.

Both conditions can lead to pain and discomfort. When you experience this, contact our office and let us help you find the relief you need. Call our Medford, OR office at (541) 776-3338 or use our online form to contact us today and request an appointment.

How can hammertoes be treated?

Hammertoe (and the related claw or mallet toe condition) is a toe deformity that develops in response to muscular imbalances in the toe. There are various potential causes of these conditions, but they are all progressive in nature, which means they will worsen over time when left untreated.

Hammertoe treatment depends on the degree to which the affected toe is still flexible. In cases that are caught early, where the toe is flexible, treatment may be centered on a change in footwear or the use of pads or orthotic devices. Various foot exercises, like crumpling a towel or picking up marbles with your toes, may provide some benefit.

When conservative care methods do not provide the desired results, we may recommend a surgical procedure to release a tendon responsible for preventing the toe from lying flat. Depending on the case, we may straighten the toe by removing a piece of bone.

For additional information on hammertoes, contact Southern Oregon Foot & Ankle, L.L.C. You can give our Medford, OR office a call at (541) 776-3338 or schedule an appointment with us online today.

What are the most common causes of heel pain?

Pain in your heel is most commonly attributed to plantar fasciitis–inflammation of the plantar fascia along the bottom of the foot. This condition can be caused by repetitive stress on the feet from sports, from standing for long periods of time, or from obesity. However, there are also several other conditions that can lead to pain in the heel.

Achilles tendinitis can cause heel pain along with pain in the back of the legs. The stress on the Achilles tendon often causes it to pull on the heel where it attaches to the bone. This condition is most commonly attributed to a sudden increase of activity such as lengthening the duration of your exercise routine.

Another reason for heel pain is the presence of a heel spur. This is a bony growth of calcium located under the heel bone (also known as the calcaneus). This condition often accompanies plantar fasciitis.

If your heel pain is severe, and has lasted for an extensive period of time, it may be due to a stress fracture in the heel. Bone breaks require a great amount of rest and time to heal before normal use of the foot can resume.

Can I treat high arches without having surgery?

The short answer: yes. There are several options for the treatment of cavus foot. We will discuss treatments like orthotics, braces, and modifications to your shoes with you before resorting to surgery. Many times, these techniques and devices are used in order to help stabilize and cushion the feet.

Your podiatrist will first want to evaluate your pain and look at the severity of the condition. Sometimes, arches that are high do not cause pain. However, when pain is severe and persistent, you can be sure that Dr. Merrill will do everything he can to reduce the discomfort.

Orthotics and braces will help straighten the foot and ankle, as well as support the muscles that aren’t strong enough to stabilize the foot themselves. This may be sufficient to reduce pain and help prevent the condition from getting worse. Make an appointment with Dr. Evan Merrill or Dr. Adam Gerber today to discuss your specific condition.

What is a heel spur?

Your body will sometimes attempt to fix a broken bone by generating new bone tissue. Other times, it will grow the tissue to offer protection from stress or excessive pressure. When this happens, the resulting growth is known as a bone spur, which is often benign but can also cause trouble for surrounding tissue. When you experience heel pain, one of the possibilities is that you have developed a variation of this condition called a heel spur.

These abnormal growths on your heel often develop when your plantar fascia pulls away from the area. Risk factors for developing one include gait abnormalities, running on hard surfaces, poor-fitting or worn out shoes, and excessive weight or obesity.

Whether you are experiencing the pain that can accompany a bone spur, or are suffering from any other foot or ankle problem, Southern Oregon Foot & Ankle, L.L.C. is your first choice for extraordinary care and treatment. Our Medford, OR office is conveniently located and staffed with the friendly, knowledgeable professionals you should expect from a podiatric practice. Contact us by calling (844) 899-6826.

Are flat feet painful?

Most cases of flat feet occur without complications or symptoms. Patients may even go their entire lifespan without ever realizing they have this condition. However, some people may develop pain in the arches or heels as improper distribution of forces during activity can increase pressure on these areas. Individuals can often experience swelling in the feet from this condition. The associated discomfort that comes with this breakdown in biomechanics can be further exaggerated by aging, arthritis, obesity, or injury to the foot. To treat the aches and pains of flat feet, our office may recommend treatments like the use of orthotics or special shoes and proper stretching techniques.

While most instances of this condition are pain-free, flat feet can often develop into more serious conditions over time. In order to determine the best treatment and prevention methods for your unique case, contact our Medford office at (541) 776-3338 or request an appointment online.

Why do I have pain in my heels when I wake up in the morning?

Morning heel pain is the most common symptom of plantar fasciitis. This is a condition that affects the tendon that runs along the bottom of the foot– the plantar fascia. Repetitive pounding of the feet from running and jumping on hard surfaces causes irritation and stress on the soles of the feet. When this tissue is overstretched, very tiny tears form. The result is inflammation and pain in the bottom of the heel, and sometimes in the arch of the foot.

Pain from plantar fasciitis has been reported as most severe in the morning, or after long periods of rest. Pain will subside as the day progresses since walking tends to gently warm up and stretch the plantar fascia calming the inflammation. Stretching is the best way to reduce the initially harsh pain that is typical in the morning.

What can I do for Achilles tendonitis pain?

The Achilles tendon connects the heel to the muscles of the lower leg. When this tendon is irritated by overuse or trauma it can easily become inflamed and very painful to move. In order to relieve the pain caused by this inflammation, patients can follow the R.I.C.E. method of treatment. Resting, icing, compression, and elevation will solve many of the foot and ankle pains that come with Achilles tendonitis. In addition to this conservative method of pain management, many people have found physical therapy and strength training useful in stimulating the natural healing process of the body and stretching the tendons in the ankle. In order to prevent the condition from getting worse many patients cut down on their physical activities or replace them with low impact exercises like biking, yoga, or swimming.

If you’re looking for quick relief for your Achilles tendonitis pain then contact our Medford office at (541) 776-3338 and we will prescribe the best treatment for your lifestyle. Appointments can also be scheduled online.