When it comes to foot care, our podiatrists have a lot on the ball.
No pun intended by Dr. Aiman Bishara, our podiatrist in Wichita is, you guessed it, a big football fan. Not the kind of football that is national obsession of these United States, of course, but the older world version they play throughout Europe, in the Middle East and just about everywhere else.
He comes by his love of the game quite naturally, having grown up in Egypt where the sport has the combined popularity of our football, baseball, and basketball all rolled into one black and white ball. After practicing medicine there for a number of years, he set his sites on a goal much farther afield. He wanted to come to America.
“My parents and grandparents had already been living here for many years, so I was able to join my family here,” he recalled. “It took several years and applications, but I was eventually accepted for citizenship and have been very happy with the decision to come to America. The quality of life we can enjoy here is so much better, and the medicine I can practice is much more advanced.”
After a family member had surgery on an ankle, he became interested in podiatry and went back to school to earn his doctorate in that field. After initially practicing in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Dr. Bishara heard about an opportunity to join the staff at GraceMed.
“I’ve been so impressed with how friendly and welcoming everyone has been here in Wichita,” he said. “I think there’s a real need here for podiatrists and a great opportunity to be of service in a place that has quickly come to feel like home.”
While Dr. Bishara is enjoying putting down his Wichita roots, over in Topeka we have a new podiatrist who may not play soccer, but definitely likes to put her feet in motion trotting the globe.
“I love to travel,” said Dr. Bridgett Elie. “I’ve been to London, Toronto, Montreal, Jamaica. I really enjoy seeing all the ways the lives we all live are different and yet still the same around the world.”
Dr. Elie has travelled a bit professionally too. Originally from Louisiana, she has practiced in Virginia and South Carolina before coming to Kansas. Having seen some of the world’s capitals, she likes the not-too-big, not-too-small feel of her new home in the capital of Kansas.
One thing both Dr. Elie and Dr. Bishara have noticed that Kansas has more than its fair share of is diabetic patients. The state is projected to experience an increase of nearly 40% in diabetes diagnosis over the next decade. And where there is diabetes, there is a substantial risk to the health of our feet.
“There are essentially two ways diabetes attacks our feet,” Dr. Bishara explained. “First the damage glucose can do over time to our circulation can make healing sores and infections a problem. And second, diabetes can cause nerve damage in the feet. I once saw a patient who actually had a nail penetrating the insole of his shoe, and he couldn’t even feel it.”
Dr. Elie reports that a significant percentage of her patients have been diagnosed with diabetes. “The greatest risk diabetes poses to the feet is the potential for amputation,” she said. “We’re getting a lot better at heading off the need for amputations, but the only way to do so is through better care on an ongoing basis. Patients have to be trained to exam their feet every day because between neuropathy and peripheral artery disease, a lot of serious infection and injury can go unnoticed until it’s too late. If we can catch these conditions early and treat them, it makes all the difference.”
Of course, diabetes isn’t the only way the health of our feet can be threatened. There are conditions that can result from years of wearing shoes that don’t fit your feet well. This can cause the growth of corns or distortions in your toes like hammertoe. Plantar Fasciitis is a condition in which the tissue in the arch of the foot becomes inflamed. Runners and other athletes who put an extraordinary amount of stress on their feet can be more vulnerable to this condition.
If you want to be kind to your hard-working feet and preserve their health, Dr. Bishara and Dr. Elie have some recommendations:
- Make sure the shoe fits: You need about 1/2″ of space between your longest toe and the end of the shoe.
- Dry feet are happy feet. Don’t forget to dry between the toes. You can use moisturizer if your skin is too dry but start by drying them thoroughly after bathing.
- Exercise your feet. To enhance strength, mobility and circulation, wiggle your toes, flex your ankles and stretch your calves regularly.
- Keep your nails trimmed. It’s not just good hygiene. It can also help prevent painful ingrown nails and bacterial or fungal infections.
Most of all, if you see a problem, see a podiatrist. Dr. Bishara is available for new patient appointments at (316) 866-2000, and Dr. Elie is available at (785) 861-8000.
This post originated in our State of Grace quarterly news magazine. If you would like to receive the magazine, please visit this link and give us your information. Thanks!