Foot Clinic Milton & Cambridge : What causes fungal nails and how can they be treated?

Fungal nails, also known as onychomycosis is caused by an infection of the nails by a fungus.   Fungi can live on nails, dead tissues of the hair, and oouter skin layers. Fungal nails are more common in adults and in most cases follow fungal infections of the skin.  Toenails are more commonly affected then fingernails.

There are a number of ways one can contract a fungal nail infection.  The fungi that cause infection thrive in moist, dark environments.  These include public showers, swimming pools, gyms, and other areas where people sweat a lot.  Those who use these facilities regularly are at a higher risk of contracting the fungi.  Other things that can increase the risk of a fungal infection include getting manicures and pedicures where the tools used are not sterilized correctly, having moist skin for a long time, wearing closed-toe footwear, compromised immune system, and having a nail deformity or nail disease.

There are a number of changes that occur to the nails once infected by fungi.  These changes include discolouration of the nail (yellowish, brownish, and sometimes black), brittleness, thickening of the nail, crumbling of the outside edges of the nail, odour, debris trapped under the nail, and lifting up or loosening of the nail.  The nail(s) can become very hard to cut and in come cases can start to cause pain.

Once a fungal nail is diagnosed, the appropriate treatment option can be advised.  There are a number of topical anti-fungals that are available.  Some of these are prescription strength and some may be available over-the-counter.  Oral anti-fungals are also available, however they pose a higher risk and must be discussed with your health care professional before starting.  Fungal nails can take anywhere from a few months to a year to completely clear out.

For more information or to arrange an assessment, contact Ontario Foot & Orthotics at one of our two locations: 519-623-3000 in Cambridge or 905-878-6479 in Milton. You can also visit us at

Foot Clinic Milton: What causes a plantar wart and how can it be treated?

A plantar wart, also known as verruca pedis, is caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV) that occurs on the sole of the foot or the toes.  The virus enters the skin through tiny cuts, breaks or other sensitive sites on the skin of your feet.  The spread of warts most likely occurs in areas that are contaminated by others with plantar warts.  This can include communal showers, pool areas, activities that include being barefoot such as gymnastics, martial arts, etc. The destruction of HPV once it enters the skin depends on the development of immune lymphocytes (small white blood cells) that destroy the virus-infected cells.

Plantar warts generally develop underneath pressure points in your feet such as the heel or the balls of your feet.  They can also occur on the toes.  Since the warts develop under pressure points, they may develop a callus (thickened skin) over top.  Plantar warts look like small, fleshy lesions or growths on the bottom of your feet.  Many warts have small black pinpoints, which are small clotted blood vessels.  If the wart is scratched, pinpoint bleeding can occur.  A cluster of warts in one area of the skin is called a mosaic wart.  Plantar warts can become very painful if not treated.  They are most painful when squeezed as opposed to direct pressure because the skin striations go around the plantar warts.  Plantar warts mostly affect children and teenagers and those with weakened immune systems.

There are various treatment options for plantar warts.  Treatment options depend on the individual and how long they have had the warts.  Since plantar warts can be resistant to treatment, it requires multiple visits and patience to ensure that the wart has been successfully treated. Treatment options include freezing (cryotherapy), various topical medication that includes salicylic acid, cantharidin, Immiquimod, silver nitrate, etc. If none of these treatment options work, there is laser treatment available as well as minor surgery, which involves cutting away the wart.

For more information or to arrange an assessment, contact Ontario Foot & Orthotics at 905-878-6479 in Milton. You can also visit us at

What are custom made orthotics/insoles and how can they help me?

Custom made orthotics/insoles are a corrective device that is used to support and correct the foot in a functional or accommodative manner.  It is a device that is placed in your shoes and helps correct biomechanical issues that may be occurring.  The orthotics can be prescribed to fit many different styles of shoes such as athletic shoes, dress shoes, safety shoes, and also hockey skates, soccer shoes, etc.

Custom made orthotics are recommended for a number of reasons.  These can range from flat feet to high arches, bunions, heel pain, knee pain, lower back pain, and general foot pain and fatigue.   The orthotics can restrict or assist movement of the foot in a specific direction and help redistribute pressure in the foot to avoid excessive pressure on certain weight bearing areas. The orthotics also helps change the alignment of the body to help reduce discomfort in the ankle, knees, and lower back.

Accommodative custom orthotics helps relieve pain and offload areas of the foot without changing the function of the foot.  These types of insoles are recommended for those with osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis, diabetic individuals with sensitive feet, and those who just need more support in their feet in certain areas.

Before custom made orthotics are prescribed, a comprehensive assessment is completed.  This includes a biomechanical exam, which looks at the range of motion in the joints of the feet, knees, and hips.  A gait analysis is then completed to determine how the feet function when the body is in motion.  Once that is completed, a cast is taken of the feet through different means (plaster of paris, serofoam, etc.) and the orthotics are manufactured to your specific needs.

For more information or to arrange an assessment, contact Ontario Foot & Orthotics at 905-878-6479 in Milton. You can also visit us at

You don’t have to live with ingrown toenails

Living in pain shouldn’t be something that becomes a permanent part of your life. Many people simply learn to live with the constant pain associated with ingrown toenails but there are services out there that can permanently relieve the stress you are dealing with as a result of recurring ingrown toenails.

This is an incredibly common problem and the experts at Ontario Foot and Orthotics can provide a variety of preventative and surgical solutions to ensure you don’t have to live another day with that stubborn ingrown nail.

The reasons that nails become ingrown are many. It could be as simple as wearing the wrong type of shoes for your natural foot shape. That is something that will be looked at during the biomechanical assessment provided at Ontario Foot and Orthotic. During your first meeting they can determine whether your footwear is the problem or if it goes deeper. Some people have feet that are anatomically disposed to cause ingrown nails and some people cut their nails improperly. If you have noticed that you are constantly in pain or that you develop infections in this area, it is time to book an appointment.

There are a few solutions that might suit you. The simplest options are to have the nails cut in the correct manner and to have the offending nail spike removed.  If the ingrown nail is a result of the position of your feet and the way you walk, customized orthotics can help reduce the pressure on the nail preventing ingrown nails from recurring. If it is a matter of nails that are being cut improperly, you can book recurring appointments to treat your nail problems. If you want to deal with ingrown nails once and for all, Ontario Foot and Orthotics actually offers a surgical option that will give you a permanent solution. By removing the nail and chemically burning the root that allows your nails to grow, your nail will not grow back in the area that is causing the pain.  There are options to have a portion of the nail removed, or to have the whole nail removed. It’s fairly non-invasive and many patients are back on their feet in the next day.

Call Ontario Foot and Orthotics at 905-878-6479 in Milton or visit for more info.

Foot Doctor : Where does this pain come from? It starts with the feet.

Ouch! Lots of people experience seemingly inexplicable body pain, especially in cold weather. Aches in your lower body and neck can be a result of situational strain but if you are beginning to notice that it is happening frequently then perhaps the answer you are looking for isn’t under your nose, it starts with your toes.

Everything from the back of the heel, knee, calf, hips, lower back and neck can experience muscle pain as a result of problems with the anatomy of your feet and the way you carry weight when you move. These types of dysfunctions are called biomechanical issues and treating such afflictions is the specialty of a little place in Milton and Cambridge called Ontario Foot and Orthotics.

One example of problems many people have with their feet and simply ignore for most of their life is over or under pronation. Pronation is the way the ankle rolls and rotates naturally during a step and it is something everyone does. The heel comes down first and the ankle rolls a few degrees to evenly distribute the weight of your body across your foot. Problems begin to occur when either the shape of your foot or the way you naturally walk cause you to roll your foot either too much or too little during pronation. This causes too much weight to be disproportionally distributed to certain parts of the foot, depending on how you are pronating.

It seems like a simple fix but these things take an expert to diagnose. The staff at Ontario Foot and Orthotics will schedule an appointment and analyze the shape of your feet and the way you walk. Muscles in your feet span across joints and connect to a whole set of muscles which are connected all the way up your legs, back and neck. Through custom orthotic inserts and preventative strategies to fight pain, Ontario Foot and Orthotics can provide solutions to the mysterious muscle pain you thought would never go away.

Call Ontario Foot and Orthotics at 519-623-3000 in Cambridge or 905-878-6479 in Milton or visit for more info.

Walking straight and growing strong

Nobody knows your child better than you. When they have a problem you can work to help them in any way you can but some issues aren’t always so evident. When a child is having issues with their feet the symptoms aren’t always obvious to them but there are ways a parent can pick up on issues with little feet before they begin to manifest problems later in life.

One popular issue many children have with their feet is walking with their toes turned in towards each other. Being in-toed can result in tripping over feet and not being able to walk in a straight line. Similar symptoms are a result having feet that point away from each other. Being out-toed can also result in symptoms that aren’t sensed directly in the feet. If your child is constantly complaining about pain in their calf muscles, this could be a result of being out-toed. If there is a lot of extra wear on the inside of their shoes, this can also be a result of being out-toed.

Another very common disorder that children experience is a bounce in their walk that can be a result of the shape of their feet. When the heels lift earlier than they should it can result in pain in the legs because muscles attached across the back of the ankles are put under more stress than they should be.

These are three very common problems seen by the professionals at Ontario Foot and Orthotics, in both their Milton and Cambridge offices. The good news is that they are able to treat and correct these disorders, especially in children. The structure of a child’s foot is still very flexible until they reach their teenage years so correcting in-toes, out-toes and a bouncing walk is much easier if it is spotted early.

Call Ontario Foot and Orthotics at 519-623-3000 in Cambridge or 905-878-6479 in Milton or visit for more info.

What is Plantar Fasciitis and how can it be treated?

Plantar Fasciitis is a result of inflammation of the plantar fascia.  The plantar fascia is a thick, non-elastic band of fibrous tissue that runs from the balls of your feet (metatarsal heads) and attaches to your heel.  It is an overuse injury that is usually characterized by acute heel pain first thing in the morning or after rest.

Plantar fasciitis occurs when stress is applied to the plantar fascia causing it to pull away from the insertion point (the heel).  This can cause small tears to the fascia resulting in inflammation and pain.  There are a variety of factors that can cause stress to the fascia such as flat arches (overpronation), tight calf muscles, poor footwear, overuse, and sudden increase in weight.

Symptoms of plantar fasciitis include a sharp pain in the heel that can travel towards the arch of the foot.  Pain persists with every step of the foot.   As the fascia is pulled away from the heel bone, the body reacts by filling in the space with new bone, which can lead to a heel spur.  A heel spur can be detected via x-ray and can be treated in the same way as plantar fasciitis.

Treatment options:

Many of the treatment options for plantar fasciitis consist of conservative therapy.  Short-term treatment includes stretching and icing of the fascia, proper footwear, padding and strapping, and oral ibuprofen or any other anti-inflammatory.  If none of these treatment options are working, physical therapy can be implemented.  Finally for a long-term treatment and preventative solution, orthotics can be prescribed.  Orthotics will help to re-create the arch and reduce stress on the fascia.  Surgical options are available, however not very common.

For more information or to arrange an assessment, contact Ontario Foot & Orthotics at 905-878-6479 in Milton. You can also visit us at

How can diabetes affect the feet?

With diabetes, the whole body is affected, including the feet. As diabetes affects blood circulation and increases nerve sensitivity, feet are particularly prone to problems. It is very important for diabetics to clean their feet daily, to do a daily foot check and to have them checked regularly by a chiropodist, even though there may not be any problems obvious to you. For example, some signs to watch out for and to act upon are itchiness, redness, bruising, burning, blisters, coolness, roughened areas, lack of sensitivity to temperature and of course any pain in the feet.

There are many complications that can arise due to diabetes.  One of the complications that can lead to foot problems for people with diabetes is peripheral or diabetic neuropathy.  This type of neuropathy causes nerve damage in the feet causing you to lose feeling in your feet or may cause a burning or tingling sensation.  When this occurs, you start to lose sensation and you are not able to feel things like a pebble in your shoes or socks, a blister caused by poor fitting shoes, changes in temperature, etc.   These injuries can lead to ulcers that can eventually lead to amputation.

All people with diabetes are at risk for foot problems.  Certain warning signs can put one at a higher risk for developing ulcers (foot sores).  These signs include calluses or corns, numbness or tingling in the feet, loss of feeling in your feet, poor circulation in your legs or feet, foot deformity such as bunions and hammer toes, etc. It is also important to check your blood sugars daily and have your hemoglobin A1c monitored by your physician.  Normal blood sugar values should be between 4-6 mmol/L and hemoglobin A1c should be kept under 7.

If you are diabetic, visit Ontario Foot and Orthoitcs for a full diabetic screen and for any questions you may having regarding diabetes and your feet.  To arrange an assessment, contact Ontario Foot & Orthotics at one of our two locations: 519-623-3000 in Cambridge or 905-878-6479 in Milton. You can also visit us at

Custom orthotics for all feet

Winter is in full swing and like many people you may only now be realizing that your seasonal footgear is not as comfortable as you remember it. The multitude of boots and shoes you are switching into depending on the weather are designed for fashion and function before comfort but there are custom orthotic solutions in Cambridge and Milton to make all your footwear fit like a dream.

Most stores that sell footgear also sell inserts for their shoes but custom orthotics are a step ahead of those products. While one-size-fits-all inserts might give a little extra cushion to your step, a custom solution created at Ontario Foot and Orthotics will be designed and manufactured to fit your feet perfectly. They can correct underlying problems with your feet that might be causing you pain or putting stress on your body.

Call and set up an appointment for an in-depth analysis. Staff will meet with you to administer a biomechanical assessment of your feet and walking style as well as create a plaster cast of your foot. Once the cause of your discomfort has been discovered, customized orthotics can be created that will not only fit your feet comfortably, but actually work towards correcting the misalignments that are causing stress and pain in your feet and body.

No matter what your job, age or level of activity, customized orthotics can help you get through the cold weather safely and with comfort. Treat yourself and treat your feet to an appointment with Ontario Foot and Orthotics. Call us at 519-623-3000 in Cambridge or 905-878-6479 in Milton or visit for more info.

How to handle common foot problems – nail fungus, athlete’s foot and heel cracks

At some time in your life, you will likely come across one or more of the foot problems detailed below. Here are some ways of dealing with these issues:

Nail fungus:

These thickened and yellow nails are difficult to treat, mostly because the typical topical treatments do not get to the right depth of the fungal organisms. Oral medications are effective, though they can take many months and lead to side effects and liver problems. A chiropodist will assess the level of damage and recommend options to resolve the problem for good. Nail gels are very effective and topical treatments are most effective when the chiropodist first files the nail down to the right level for the topical agent to work.

Athlete’s foot:

This usually occurs between the toes, but can be found on other parts of the foot as well. It can look like dry skin, but moisturizers do not rid this problem. Signs of fungus include dry, itchy, scaling skin, redness and even blistering. Fungal organisms thrive in dark and moist environments such as between the toes, so ensure the area is kept dry and change your socks regularly as you perspire. It is also important to avoid walking barefoot in public areas, especially showers and locker rooms. If these self-care techniques are not working, visit your chiropodist for further care and guidance.

Heel cracks:

There are many skin creams on the market that are touted to resolve heel cracks and fissures. The reason they do not work is that the dead and calloused skin needs to be removed first and effectively, so the skin can come together to heal. By preparing the skin and utilizing strapping, the skin fissures adhere and heal. Besides dry skin and prolonged standing, many do not realize that foot wear is also a major contributing factor in the development of heel fissures, such as open back and thin-soled foot wear. A chiropodist is your best choice for the best solution.

To arrange an assessment, contact Ontario Foot & Orthotics at 905-878-6479 in Milton. You can also visit us at