Monday, November 27, 2017

Gout, the Feet, and the Holiday Season!

It seems that every winter around this time, I write a blog about Gout. Why, and what is gout? Gout is an arthritic condition that flares up in a joint, most commonly the big toe of the foot, when the uric acid in the blood stream is elevated. During the holidays, we invest things that can cause elevated uric acid: red meat, cheese, shrimp, leafy green vegetables, beer, and wine. Thus, gout flare ups of the feet tend to occur more frequently around this time of year. Gout often presents as a red, hot, very tender, and swollen joint. Sometimes, it can cause the entire foot to appear this way, and rarely, it can affect more than one joint at a time. Even the sheets touching the area can cause extreme pain. This condition is more common in men, but post-menopausal women can also get this condition. Injuries, recent surgeries, obesity, medical conditions, medications, and family history can also be factors with a gouty attack. If you think you are experiencing a gouty attack of the foot, it is important to see a podiatrist to make sure this is exactly what is going on. Other things can also have a similar presentation, especially infections, so a proper diagnosis is key to effective treatment. Often, a blood test is helpful to differentiate between infection and gout. There are a variety of treatment options for gout: medication, injections, strapping, soft casting, surgery shoes or boots, and other things. Dr. Bender, 708-763-0580,

Monday, November 6, 2017

Best Customer Experience Award for Dr. Bender and staff

In October, I was honored to be awarded the Best Customer Experience Award in our community by the Oak Park River Forest Chamber of Commerce. I work so hard each day with my staff to try to make our office better and better. We try to follow up with our patients, respond to messages and emails in a timely fashion, and get patients in and out of the office quickly. Your time is valuable, and we really care that you are getting better! Please feel free to reach out if you have any questions or problems with your condition, treatment, or office visit. I can be reached directly through my website, Plus, we love compliments too! Your positive reviews of the office on Yelp, Facebook, and Google make all the difference to us, as these reviews help attract new patients to the office. Also, referrals of your friends, family, and neighbors are the best compliment of all! Thanks so much for believing in my practice and for all of your support! Mary Ann Bender, DPM

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Dr. Bender Quoted in August, 2017 issue of Women's Running

Dr. Bender was quoted in the article "My Toes Hurt," in the August, 2017 edition of Women's Running, written by Nicole Radziszewski. This article explains why poorly fitting shoes and the repetitive pressure that running creates on the toes and toenails can create several issues: blood to form under nails, painful toenails, loosening of nails, bacterial infections, and fungal nails. Shoes with a bigger toe box and proper length can minimize toe pain in runners. Check out the article at your local book or magazine store or request a copy from Dr. Bender!

Monday, June 19, 2017

Can I stop this ingrown nail from coming back?

Ingrown toenails can be pesky, annoying, painful, and also may interfere with our lives. They make shoes, sports, and even daily activities challenging. Ingrown nails can be caused by genetics, improper shoe gear, incorrect cutting of the nail, trauma or injuries to the nail, fungus or psoriasis, and other causes. There are many patients who get this condition repeatedly and want to permanently correct it, so what can be done? There is a procedure called a matrixectomy which can solve this problem of recurrent ingrown nails. After numbing up the toe with an injection, a portion of nail is removed from the area where the ingrown nail is occurring. A chemical called phenol is applied to the area, so the nail border will no longer regrow. There is a longer recovery time for this procedure than when the nail is simply removed. However, the problem of recurrent ingrown nails can be solved with this matrixectomy. It is important to note that this procedure cannot be performed if there is an infection in the nail or surrounding tissue, and there are certain patients who are not ideal candidates for this procedure. Please see your podiatrist to see if it will work for you! Dr. Bender,

Monday, June 12, 2017

Keeping Children's feet Safe in the Summer

School is out in Oak Park. Camp is in session. The pools and parks are open and busy. Now is the time to think about keeping your children's feet safe for the summer. Here are some handy tips! 1. No barefoot walking! It is important to have a supportive gym shoe or sandal on when playing outside. Barefoot kids can step on twigs, leaves, rocks, and other outdoor items when they are having fun in the yard or park. This can lead to pain, blisters, sores, and infection if not treated properly. Worse yet, walking around the pool locker rooms or snack bars without shoes can cause kids or adults to develop warts (a virus that loves warm, moist environments). 2. Wear supportive shoes! Many flip flops offer no support to the feet and are not recommended for children's growing feet. Running and playing in these types of shoes makes kids (and adults!) less stable, and each summer people come into the office with blisters, abrasions, broken toes, and pain from flip flops. Want to know about some supportive shoe options for kids or adults...ask me! 3. Keep the feet dry! After a swim in the pool, make sure to dry the feet before putting on socks and shoes, as it will reduce the chance of warts, athlete's foot, blisters, and foot odor. Also, it is important to change the socks frequently during the summer months for these same reasons. Keeping an extra pair in a camp bag or gym bag allows kids to change their socks if they feel damp. 4. Come to the office if something looks or feels funny! It is so much easier to treat one wart before it multiplies and spreads. A mildly tender ingrown nail is much easier to treat before it becomes infected. Finally, heel pain and other aches are easier to control if you come to the office sooner.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Warm Weather and Warts

As the temperatures start to rise, people are more eager to be outside and to be active. This is concerning for a nagging foot condition like warts. Warts are caused by a virus that thrives on warm, sweaty feet. During warm weather, warts can spread and flourish. It is important to seek treatment of these annoying and painful bumps or spots on the feet with a podiatrist. There are many in office and at home treatments that can be curative over time, as warts usually do not go away after just one treatment. In addition to treatment by a doctor, the patient should make some changes as well. First, it is essential to keep the feet as dry as possible by changing socks regularly, using powder or spray on the feet to keep them dry, and drying them thoroughly after bathing or sports. Second, airing out the shoes, and even spraying them out with lysol is helpful as the virus that causes warts often lives in our warm, hot shoes along with fungi and bacteria. It is also important not to touch the warts with your hands or fingers, and if you do, the hands should be washed to prevent spread. Have a nagging wart? Give us a call, 708-763-0580, or visit us at for online scheduling.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Athlete's Foot-What is it?

As the temperatures increase and Spring sports are keeping kids and adults more active, people start coming into the office with itchy feet that are red, irritated, scaling, and sometimes blistered. They often ask why this has happened all of the sudden. Sometimes people have had it before, but other times, it is the very first time that they have experienced this annoying problem. Tinea pedis, or athlete's foot, is a fungal infection of the skin. Fungi prefer warm, moist environments, so sweaty, hot feet are a common location for athlete's foot. Pools, locker rooms, and other warm, moist environments are prime locations to develop this condition. Athlete's foot can develop any time of year but is more common during warmer months. During the winter, snow boots, insulated socks, and even warm slippers can lead to this condition also. How is this treated? It is essential to keep the feet as dry as possible by changing socks frequently. Spraying the shoes out with lysol or antifungal sprays and rotating shoes (not wearing the same pair every day) are also helpful and preventative solutions. Antifungal medication is also essential. Over the counter options that you can buy at the store may be helpful, but often stronger prescription medicines that actually are fungicidal (kill the fungus) may be necessary. Thus, it is important to make a podiatry appointment for proper assessment and treatment. After the condition is adequately treated, over the counter antifungal sprays or powder are helpful with keeping the feet dry. Wearing shower shoes or sandals in locker rooms and around pools is also essential. Finally, as mentioned, it is essential to keep the feet dry by changing socks frequently. Dr. Bender,, 708-763-0580

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

What is the Hallux?

Last night, my young daughter was talking about pain in her "thumb toe." This is not the correct term for the first toe of our foot, so I decided a quick explanation was in order! What is the big toe? What is the hallux? The hallux is another name for the big toe. There are two bones called phalanges that make up the big toe and several soft tissue structures attach to the big toe to help with its function. Does your big toe hurt? Give us a call, 708-763-0580, or visit to schedule an appointment.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Why kids should not go barefoot in locker rooms!

My children take swim lessons twice per week at our local YMCA, and I often exercise there myself several days per week. Over the years, I have noticed that both children and adults alike walk around the locker rooms, showers, bathrooms, and the pool barefoot, and this is not safe for the feet. People probably think the chlorine from the pool and regular cleaning of the locker rooms, showers, and bathrooms make them safe for our feet. However, warm, moist environments like pools, locker rooms, showers, bathrooms, and similar areas are great environments for viruses, bacteria, and fungi to grow and thrive. Warts are a common foot issue, and they are caused by a virus that is present commonly in warm, moist environments. Warts can present as raised areas on the feet (like bumps) or calloused areas. They can look white or have red or black dots throughout. They hurt when compressed from side to side, but depending on the location on the feet, they can cause significant pain with walking or by rubbing on shoes. Warts are easier for children to acquire due to their developing immune systems, but any human can get them. They are very challenging to treat, as our warm, sweaty shoes and socks can allow them to multiply. Thus, wearing a sandal of some sort at the pool or in locker rooms can protect the feet from this virus. Warts on the feet are challenging to manage at home, and they often require several visits to a podiatrist. Athlete's foot can be acquired in locker rooms especially, as the various fungi that cause this condition, again, like warm, moist environments. Athlete's foot or tinea pedis causes itchy, blistered, painful, and potentially raw skin on the feet and between the toes. It can rapidly worsen and spread because our feet are in warm, sweaty shoes and socks. Athlete's foot itself is uncomfortable, but it can get out of hand by progressing to open sores and secondary bacterial infections that will require medication and additional medical care. Finally, walking barefoot in locker rooms can lead to puncture wounds (sharp objects, pebbles, dropped items) or foreign objects entering the foot (splinters, metal pieces, hair). Some type of shoe or sandal can protect the bottom of the foot from stepping on unwanted objects. Wounds on the bottom of the feet and foreign objects can easily lead to pain and infection on the bottom of the child's foot. Protect your child's feet at the pool and in locker rooms! Dr. Bender, 708-763-0580

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Exercise and healthy feet

Over the last few years, I have spent months training for Hustle up the Hancock, which is a stair climbing race up the John Hancock Building in Chicago. Participants climb 94 flights of stairs. Anyhow, I decided this would be a great topic for the blog this week because I talk to all of my patients about the importance of exercise and their feet. Obviously, I do not recommend that my patients climb 94 flights of stairs to keep their feet healthy, but I do recommend a regular exercise program. Each patient is different and has different needs. For example, biking and swimming are great exercises for many people with foot pain. However, obese patients, elderly patients, or people with certain injuries maynbe better off with chair exercises, stretches, or only upper body programs. Exercising keeps the body strong and healthy, and in the case of the feet, helps with circulation or blood flow to the feet. For some patients, it helps to control or reduce blood sugar and blood pressure. For others, it keeps arthritic joints mobile and comfortable. The important thing is to be active regularly and consistently for good health. In my case, I like to have a goal to work toward (like Hustle up the Hancock), so this is very motivating for me. Keep your feet healthy and get regular exercise! Dr. Bender, Now open on Mondays only in Forest Park, and Monday through Friday in Oak Park!

Monday, February 6, 2017

Supportive shoes and kids

As a working mom, I happily treat many families and children in my office. Every time a child comes into the office, I talk about caring for their feet, and often, adults are surprised that their children's feet require different care than their own. Children are not mini adults! For example, kids feet grow and can grow rapidly at times, requiring new shoe gear purchases much faster than parents may think. One small adult finger should extend from the child's longest toe to the end of the shoe. If the toes are hitting the end of the shoe, the shoe is too small. It is important to check this regularly, as shoes that are too small can cause pain, blistering, ingrown nails, infections, and foot deformities. The shoes should also have enough room for the toes to move. If the toes are compressed with pointed shoes or stiff material, foot problems can occur. It is also very important that shoes cannot be twisted, bent, or rolled into a ball. Thus, many popular brands and styles of shoes that kids like may not be adequately supporting and stabilizing their feet. More supportive options now come in a variety of colors to make them fun for kids. Finally, children should not be wearing high heeled shoes. High heels place extra pressure on the forefoot, and this can lead to long term problems. The bones in children's feet are still growing until age eighteen in most kids, so it is important to provide a good, structurally sound shoe to promote healthy foot development and growth. Plus, the child is more comfortable in these types of shoes! Look for tips below from the APMA on kids feet and shoes. Shoe Buying Tips from the APMA (American Pediatric Medical Association), Children's Feet Change With Age. Shoe and sock sizes may change every few months as a child's feet grow. Shoes That Don't Fit Properly Can Aggravate the Feet. Always measure a child's feet before buying shoes, and watch for signs of irritation. Never Hand Down Footwear. Just because a shoe size fits one child comfortably doesn't mean it will fit another the same way. Also, sharing shoes can spread fungi like athlete's foot and nail fungus. Examine the Heels. Children may wear through the heels of shoes quicker than outgrowing shoes themselves. Uneven heel wear can indicate a foot problem that should be checked by a podiatrist. Take Your Child Shoe Shopping. Every shoe fits differently. Letting a kid have a say in the shoe buying process promotes healthy foot habits down the road. Always Buy for the Larger Foot. Feet are seldom precisely the same size. Buy Shoes That Do Not Need a “Break-In” Period. Shoes should be comfortable immediately. Also make sure to have your kid try on shoes with socks or tights, if that's how they'll be worn.

Monday, January 9, 2017

Exercise and your Feet

Now that we are in a new year, people are very motivated to exercise, be healthy, and start good habits. From a general health stand point, this is great. It is important to note, that you need to work up to your exercise goals! If you are just starting cardiovascular exercises, for example, and have not been exercising regularly, it is essential to start off slowly with your exercise program and build up as your body allows. This is particularly important for the feet! Every year in January and in the Spring when the weather improves, people come into my office with foot pain and swelling because they did not allow their body to slowly adjust to their fitness goals. If you have not been running since last summer, it is ideal to combine walking, jogging, and running or even alternate with the bike or swimming. Too much too fast can cause pain, shin splints, stress fractures, heel pain, and other conditions. Additionally, select a shoe that is supportive when exercising, and this will further stabilize and protect your feet. Foot pain? Give us a call! 708-763-0580 NOW OPEN ON MONDAYS IN FOREST PARK, 708-738-9347