Frequently Asked Questions

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  • Can physical therapy reduce recovery time?

    The main goal of physical therapy is to help you regain strength, flexibility, and range of motion after an injury so that you can return to daily activities—as well as vigorous athletic activity and exercise—faster and more successfully, as well as minimize the risk of a re-injury.

    The first several weeks after an injury, the focus is on healing. At this time, strenuous physical therapy is usually inappropriate—your body needs time to repair itself first. However, once approved by your doctor, a more robust physical therapy program will help you reduce the amount of time it takes for you to fully regain and recover the same level of function you had before the injury.

    Don’t blow off physical therapy after an injury! A great podiatrist like Dr. Keith McSpadden can help guide you through the steps you’ll need to get back on your feet, without pain, as quickly and successfully as possible. To schedule an appointment at North Austin Foot & Ankle Institute, call 512-593-2949 today or request an appointment online.

  • What is the difference between custom and OTC orthotics?

    Over-the-counter orthotics are generic shoe inserts designed to provide relief for certain foot problems. They are made to fit standard shoes sizes and work best for those with fairly typical foot shapes and relatively common conditions. Although they may be made from a variety of different materials and vary in quality, they are usually not adjustable and may not provide adequate support for those with more significant foot problems. Insoles sold at pharmacies or sporting goods stores tend to be very low quality, but podiatry clinics or specialty running store may carry more durable and beneficial models.

    Orthotics are specially created just for you, based on a mold or scan of your foot. They are usually longer lasting and of higher quality, and they can be adjusted periodically as necessary. Custom orthotics often provide superior results compared to OTC alternatives, especially for those with more substantial problems or with less typical foot shapes.

    If foot pain or gait abnormalities are causing issues for you, please contact Dr. Keith McSpadden at North Austin Foot & Ankle Institute. We can help you determine what kind of foot insert, if any, is best for your circumstances. Request an appointment online, or call 512-593-2949.

  • Other than diabetes, what can cause neuropathy?

    Diabetes is the most common cause of peripheral neuropathy—up to 70% of people with the disease will develop some amount of nerve damage according to some studies—but it’s far from the only one. Other possible contributors include:

    • Trauma (acute or overuse injuries from sports, car accidents, repetitive motions, etc.)
    • Alcohol abuse
    • Certain medications
    • Bacterial or viral infections
    • Vitamin deficiencies (particularly Vitamin B variants, Vitamin E, and niacin)
    • Autoimmune diseases
    • Inherited disorders
    • Kidney disease
    • Liver disease
    • Exposure to toxins or poisons

    If you notice the symptoms of peripheral neuropathy in your feet—usually a tingling, burning, prickling, numbing, or similar sensation—don’t wait for the problem to get much worse before seeking help. A careful diagnosis and prompt treatment from Dr. Keith McSpadden and the team at North Austin Foot & Ankle Institute at the earliest possible stage can help you limit the extent of the damage, alleviate any painful issues, and restore as much nerve function as possible. Request an appointment online, or give us a call today at (512) 593-2949.

  • Why is my heel pain worse in the morning?

    It's bad enough when your alarm clock jolts you awake, but when your first step yields a stabbing pain in your heel, it's definitely not a good way to start your day! Heel pain that is worse in the morning is a telltale sign of the common overuse injury, plantar fasciitis.

    Plantar fasciitis occurs when repeated stress is placed on your plantar fascia - the fibrous band of tissues that connects your heel to your toes. Tiny tears in the tissues lead to inflammation and cause heel pain and swelling. When at rest, the band contracts, but as soon as you take a step, it stretches tautly, pulling on the heel bone and causing pain.

    As you walk and the plantar fascia loosens up, the pain may go away - but don't be fooled! It will return after periods of inactivity.

    There are, however, things you can do to ease your pain, such as gentle stretches, wearing night splints, icing the area, and avoiding the recurring activity that brought on the condition in the first place. Orthotics can provide additional cushion and support, too, and injection or laser therapy can relieve pain and swelling.

    If you have heel pain that is worse in the morning, this is your wakeup call! Contact our Cedar Park or Round Rock, TX office for an appointment by dialing (512) 593-2949.

  • Why does my gout flare up?

    Gout flare-ups happen due to a spike in uric acid in the bloodstream. Elevated uric acid levels can cause crystals to form, and those crystals deposit themselves on joint surfaces. The result is pain, often intense, and often localized at the big toe.

    What causes uric acid levels to spike? It could be many things, but one of the most common is diet. Foods that are high in purines, such as most meats (especially game and organ meats), most alcohol (especially beer), high-fat dairy, overly processed grains, and many types of seafood, produce plentiful quantities of uric acid when digested.

    Other risk factors that often lead to higher-than-normal levels of uric acid in the bloodstream include high blood pressure, heart or kidney disease, diabetes, obesity, family history, and certain medications.

    Although there’s no “cure” for gout, the condition is very treatable and very manageable—you just may need to make a few diet or lifestyle adjustments and have the discipline to stick with them. For help treating an ongoing case, or learning how to prevent future attacks, contact Dr. Keith McSpadden at North Austin Foot & Ankle Institute today. You can reach our office online, or by calling 512-593-2949.

  • What are the symptoms of a midfoot fracture?

    You may have heard the term “Lisfranc fracture” while watching sports, as athletes are sometimes sidelined by this injury that occurs in the bones in the middle of your foot. Such an injury can involve just one bone or many, with symptoms of swelling and pain on top of the foot (and sometimes discoloration and distortion) and bruising on the bottom. Depending on the severity of the midfoot fracture, standing and walking may be difficult, and in fact, you may not be able to bear weight on the injured foot at all. In this case, crutches will be required during recovery.

    If you notice these painful symptoms, don’t hesitate to contact North Austin Foot & Ankle Institute in Round Rock or Cedar Park, TX to get the help you need. You can reach us by using our online contact form or by calling (512) 593-2949 to schedule an appointment so we can get you back on your feet as quickly as possible.

  • How does a fracture differ from a break?

    While both stress fractures and “full” or “regular” breaks describe fractures in bone, they vary in terms of type and severity of the break, as well as the usual causes.

    “Regular” fractures are what you normally think of when you imagine someone “breaking a bone.” They usually occur as a result of a single traumatic injury, causing instant, severe pain. There are many different types of breaks; depending on severity, the bone may be cracked, cleanly split, or even shattered, and the bones may remain in place (stable fracture), be displaced, or even pierce the skin (open compound fracture).

    Stress fractures are different. While they do represent cracks in bone, they’re typically very small, hairline fractures in weight-bearing areas. Rather than being caused by a single injury, they usually develop over time due to overuse and stress, and lead to an aching pain the worsens with activity and may improve with rest.

    Dr. Keith McSpadden and the staff at North Austin Foot & Ankle Institute have experiencing helping patients with both types of injuries, and will be happy to help you, too. Call us at 512-593-2949 for sports injury care for your feet and ankles, or request an appointment online.

  • What is Freiberg's Disease?

    Frieberg’s disease is a relatively uncommon foot condition that can cause pain, swelling, and stiffness in your forefoot near the second toe, especially during periods of physical activity.

    In this condition, bone tissue at the head of your second metatarsal (near the base of your toe) develops micro fractures and begins to die due to an insufficient blood supply, a process called avascular necrosis. Blood supply can be restricted for various reasons; Frieberg’s disease is particularly common among physically active teenaged girls and young women since high heeled shoes, repetitive trauma, and an abnormally long metatarsal (often brought on by sudden growth spurts) can cut off circulation to the metatarsal head.

    Left untreated, the bone can flatten and even collapse, so it’s best to seek treatment as soon as you experience the symptoms. You can set up an appointment with Dr. Keith McSpadden at North Austin Foot & Ankle Institute by calling 512-593-2949 today.

  • What can I do to prevent foot odor?

    Foot odor is the result of bacteria on the feet breaking down sweat into odor-producing acids. Your feet sweat a lot (around a pint per day), so it’s extremely important to prevent moisture from getting trapped.

    Foot odor prevention strategies include:

    • Wear moisture-wicking socks and breathable shoes that allow ventilation for feet
    • Practice good hygiene and wash your feet daily, using antibacterial soap if you have a history of foot odor
    • Alternate pairs of shoes, giving them at least a day to dry out between uses
    • Apply antifungal powder or spray in shoes overnight
    • Let feet air out while you’re at home

    If these tips aren’t enough to prevent or neutralize a case of stinky feet, give Dr. Keith McSpadden and the team at North Austin Foot & Ankle Institute a call for a professional evaluation. You can schedule in Cedar Park or Round Rock, TX by calling us at (512) 593-2949.

  • How often should I perform diabetic self exams?

    At least daily.

    Self-exams are a crucial part of daily diabetic foot care. Since complications of diabetes can limit your body’s ability to heal itself and also inhibit sensation in your lower legs, a manual exam is sometimes the only way to detect problems such as blisters, cuts, and scrapes before they get infected and become open sores or ulcers.

    A good policy is to perform a quick exam morning, night, and any time you remove your shoes. You should be looking for signs of pressure, redness, swelling, or broken skin anywhere, including your sole, toenail edges, and between toes. If you need some assistance, ask a loved one to help or use a small mirror to check every spot.

    If you have diabetes but no obvious foot deformities or problems such as neuropathy or vascular disease, you should still get a professional exam annually. If you have symptoms, we’ll advise you how often you should come in.

    Need to schedule a check-up? Have any concerns about your diabetic foot care? Contact Keith McSpadden, DPM today. You can book online, or set up an appointment at one of our two Austin-area offices by calling 512-593-2949.