Frequently Asked Questions


What does a Podiatrist do?

To get a handle on what podiatrists do, it is helpful to understand that these men and women are foot specialists who have earned their doctorate in podiatric medicine (DPM). Podiatrists earn board certification with either the American Board of Podiatric Medicine or the American Board of Foot and Ankle Surgery (or both).

Foot doctors are skilled in diagnosing and treating a wide range of conditions that affect feet, ankles, and toes. Some of the fields which podiatrists may specialize in include sports medicine, pediatrics, wound care, diabetic foot care, surgery, and skin and nail care. Most, but not all, are able to perform surgical procedures, but the goal is typically to treat patients’ foot and ankle issues with the use of conservative care.


What causes bunions?

Generally, a bunion is the result of unstable foot mechanics. An imbalance in the structure in and/or around the metatarsophalangeal (MTP) joint causes it to gradually shift out of position, pushing the big toe toward its neighbors and forming a bony bump on the side of the foot.

The imbalances that can result in bunions are often inherited. If many in your family have bunions, the chances are greater that you will, too. Additional potential causes of an imbalance include prior foot injuries, arthritis, neuromuscular disorders, and flat feet.

Footwear can also have an influence on bunion progression, especially if your shoes have narrow fronts that compress the toes, or high heels that force weight toward the front of the foot. They do not necessarily cause bunions, but they can help make existing cases worse.

Can a bunion be prevented?

The structural instability that can lead to the development of a bunion is often unavoidable. However, much can be done to help prevent a developing bunion from progressing.

The earlier in a bunion’s life that you begin preventative care, the better your chances of slowing or stopping the condition’s progression. Preventative care may involve wearing shoes that place less stress on the toes and forefoot, a regimen of strengthening and conditioning exercises that can increase stability in the joint, the use of custom orthotics or night splints, and other measures.

Even if you are not quite sure you are developing a bunion, it is still very much worth checking out. If indeed you are, you can save yourself plenty of potential pain and trouble by treating it now.

When do you need bunion surgery?

You don’t want to have bunion surgery if it is not necessary, but you don’t want to live with pain and loss of mobility, either. By all means, try more conservative treatment options first, such as wearing different shoes, icing the joint, or using recommended pain relievers or cushioned pads.

Sometimes these just aren’t enough, though. When is it time for bunion surgery? If…

  • You can’t walk very far without pain becoming unbearable.
  • You can’t find any shoes that don’t make your feet feel miserable.
  • You have a swollen, painful big toe that doesn’t get better with non-invasive treatment.
  • You can’t curl or straighten your toe, or it is drifting inward.
  • Your sore toe keeps you from doing normal activities or inhibits your enjoyment of life.

Children’s Foot Care

Does my child need a Podiatrist?

Knowing when to take your child to a podiatrist is tricky, but it is important to understand that foot and ankle issues are not normal and should be treated (or at least assessed by our staff). A child who exhibits either pain or restricted movement from a foot or ankle requires pediatric foot care. Some of the common, general reasons that parents bring their children in to Brook Valley Podiatry include heel pain, sports injuries, ingrown toenails, and fungal nail infections.

Knowing when to seek podiatric care for your child is important, because the majority of such health conditions are most effectively treated at earlier stages. Additionally, early treatment is important for preventing long-term damage or issues.

At Brook Valley Podiatry, we will provide an accurate diagnosis for your son or daughter’s condition and then create an effective treatment plan to relieve any pain or suffering. You can reach our Spring Valley office by calling (845) 352-7507. If you’d prefer, you can also schedule an appointment by using our online form today.

Diabetic Foot Care

Why is diabetic foot care important?

Diabetes can potentially lead to an array of serious—life-threatening, in some cases—medical issues that are related to or adversely affect the health of your feet. Diabetic foot care refers to the measures you can take to prevent these issues from happening in the first place. It is an essential vehicle for ensuring the health and safety of not only your feet, but your entire body as well.

Components of a successful foot care plan include daily foot inspections, protective measures against wounds, and regular appointments with medical professionals, like our staff here at Brook Valley Podiatry. Early detection and treatment is instrumental in preventing serious complications.

Heel Pain

Why does my heel hurt in the morning?

The most common cause of heel pain is plantar fasciitis and it frequently causes an issue in the early morning for those afflicted by it. The condition results from repetitive stretching and tearing that causes a band of thick, fibrous tissue running along the bottom of the foot—the plantar fascia—to become inflamed or irritated.

The reason this is often so painful in the morning is because of a phenomenon known as post-static dyskinesia. What happens is that the torn tissue begins to repair itself during periods of rest, but is re-injured upon subsequent use. As the tears are reopened, the tissue becomes inflamed, which causes intense pain—not only in the morning after a full night’s sleep, but also after extended periods of sitting or resting.

How can I manage my heel pain?

There are a variety of approaches that can be used to manage heel pain. Determining the best one(s) to use will depend upon the patient and the condition causing the issue. In many cases, conservative methods can be used with great success. These include such approaches as rest, icing, stretches, shoe choices, medication, inserts or custom orthotics, and physical therapy.

For some patients, a surgical procedure can be performed to address severe pain or correct a progressive condition that cannot be resolved with conservative care. As an example, a bunion cannot be corrected without surgery, but its symptoms can be addressed through nonsurgical means.

Pain management can be performed at home, but this is best done under the guidance of an experienced foot doctor, like Dr. Stuart Birnbaum. Our patients consistently choose Brook Valley Podiatry because they know we are committed to their health, so contact us today to experience the first-class care and service we provide. Call (845) 352-0757 to reach our Spring Valley office, or simply request an appointment online today.


What conditions can orthotics help?

There are many tools that a podiatrist can use to help you with a foot or ankle condition, but one of the most versatile and valuable is a pair of custom orthotics. Unlike the mass-produced shoe inserts that can be purchased at retail stores, these devices are crafted for patients by foot doctors and are intended to treat various medical issues and prevent serious complications.

Conditions orthotics help to treat and prevent include bunions, cavus foot (high, rigid arches), corns and calluses, hallux rigidus (stiff big toe), flatfoot, metatarsalgia (forefoot pain), Morton’s neuroma, hammertoes, neuropathic ulceration, and plantar fasciitis.

Custom orthotics can play a key role in treating and preventing various medical conditions. At Brook Valley Podiatry, we may craft a pair that is customized to your unique feet as part of treatment for a foot or ankle condition that is causing you pain.

How long do orthotics last?

The average lifespan of an orthotic varies by factors such as the type of device, the materials it’s made from, and how it’s used and cared for.

The “orthotics” that you get from a drug store—the ones that are mass produced and slide in your shoes—may last for a few months, to a maximum of about 1 year for the highest quality products.

Custom orthotics, fitted by Dr. Birnbaum to your exact specifications, tend to have longer lifespans. If they’re made of softer materials, you might expect 2-3 years of good use. Orthotics made from harder substances, like molded plastic, could last 3-5 years or more.

How you use the orthotics can also make a big difference. If you use them every day, including for vigorous activity like running or sports, they will likely wear down a little faster. On the other hand, if you wear them only with certain shoes or during certain activities, and you take good care of them—including getting them adjusted or refurbished when necessary—a single pair could last 10 years or more.

For more information on custom orthotics, or to get your existing pair evaluated, refitted, or refurbished, please schedule an appointment with Dr. Stuart Birnbaum at Brook Valley Podiatry. Call (845) 352-7507 for Spring Valley, NY or fill out our online form.

Skin and Nail Care

What causes ingrown toenails?

Sore, red toes from the nails pressing into the skin are a rather common problem, likely because there are several different root causes of ingrown toenails. They can develop when you clip your nails too short and/or rounds off the edges. They also can happen when poorly-fitting footwear squashes toes together in the front. Physical trauma, as when a heavy object is dropped, can also lead to ingrown toenails.

While you can learn the proper way to trim nails, pick out shoes that fit correctly, and wear protective footwear when moving heavy items, you can’t change the physical structure of the nails you inherit. Some folks just have unusually curved nails, which can also lead to this condition.

When you have a painful ingrown toenail, you may need professional care to properly address it. In such a case, make sure to reach out and contact our foot specialists here at Brook Valley Podiatry. We will provide the treatment you need, so schedule your appointment at our Spring Valley office by calling (845) 352-7507. You can also use our convenient online form to contact us.

Do I have toenail fungus?

Toenail Fungus is unsightly, embarrassing, and can pose a risk to those who live with diabetes and other disorders. In order to tackle this particular issue, it is necessary to recognize the signs of a fungal toenail infection.

The symptoms of toenail fungus (onychomycosis) start with nails that are discolored, dull or darkened, and missing the usual shine possessed by healthy nail tissue. A fungal infection can also cause toenails to become brittle, ragged, crumbly, and thickened. There might be a slightly foul odor present and some cases even lead to an infected nail separating from its nail bed (this condition is known as onycholysis).

When it comes to treatment for cases of fungal toenails, we have a couple of options and will work with you to identify the best one for you. Contact Brook Valley Podiatry today so we can restore your nails back to their healthy, natural state. Call our Spring Valley office at (845) 352-7507, or request your appointment at either location online.

Do home remedies for warts work?

Home remedies for warts can actually be rather effective for treating the viral growths, but your first course of action needs to be receiving a professional diagnosis at our office. Too many individuals mistake a corn for a plantar wart and then suffer increased pain and risk for ulceration and infection when they use wart treatments.

One way to treat a wart at home we may recommend that is surprisingly effective is the “duct tape method,” wherein you cover the wart with a strip of duct tape and leave it on for six days. After the time has lapsed, you will soak the area and then use an emery board or pumice stone on the viral growth.

It is important to note that if you have diabetes, do not attempt to treat a wart at home. Instead, contact our office and have our professionals handle it for you.

For help with warts, come see us here at Brook Valley Podiatry. Contact us today by calling our Spring Valley office at (845) 352-0757 or filling out our online form.

Circulation and Nerve Issues

How can I improve my circulation?

Whether your poor circulation is the result of a disease like diabetes or general lack of fitness, it can result in certain problems for your feet and ankles. To prevent poor healing of sores, cramps from lack of oxygen in your cells, cold feet and toes, or other issues, do these 10 things to improve circulation:

  • Stop smoking.
  • Walk every day.
  • Eat healthy foods.
  • Massage your feet.
  • Use relaxation techniques.
  • Alternate warm and cold foot baths.
  • Move your legs and feet while sitting down.
  • Control your blood sugar levels if you have diabetes.
  • Take frequent breaks from deskwork to get up and walk around.
  • Call our office for herbal supplements and medications that may help.

You can mitigate the effects of poor blood flow, and Brook Valley Podiatry can help you. Just call our office in Spring Valley, NY area at (845) 352-0757 for an appointment. You can also schedule using the contact page on our website.

Can nerve damage be reversed?

Traditional treatments for neuropathy or nerve entrapment focus on relieving the painful symptoms. They include things like pain medications and injections, transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS), plasma exchange to remove antibodies from your blood, immune globulin therapy to suppress immune activity, and surgery to remove what is pressuring the nerve—or part of the nerve itself.

At Brook Valley Podiatry we are finding good success in reversing nerve damage with a new treatment—Neurogenx. It contains a pain relieving aspect (nerve bloc) and a regeneration aspect (electrical stimulation to jump start cell repair and growth). Combined, these can deliver a one-two punch to eliminate pain and heal damaged nerves so they function properly again. This may eliminate the need for surgery. Then you can use physical therapy to improve the muscle weakness often associated with the condition.

There is hope for your numb, tingling, painful feet. Let Dr. Stuart Birnbaum evaluate your nerve health and find the best solution for you. Call our location in Spring Valley at (845) 352-0757 and set up your initial appointment today or fill out our online form.

How is nerve damage treated?

High and fluctuating blood sugar levels are a common cause of nerve damage. If your nerve pain is caused by diabetes, the main treatment involves keeping your blood glucose levels within range. This is done with insulin, medications, and strict adherence to a diabetic diet.

If the underlying cause is excessive alcohol, exposure to toxins, infection, or immune or neurological conditions, the same principle applies: first treat what is causing the nerve damage.

Beyond that, treatment for nerve damage focuses on stopping its progression and relieving pain. Many methods are employed here, including oral and topical medications, physical therapy, relaxation and biofeedback therapy, exercise, and taking proper care of your feet. This involves everything from daily hygiene and inspections for cuts or lesions, to wearing proper protection and regular appointments at our office to monitor any problems.

Treating the complications of diabetes in your feet is one of our specialties at Brook Valley Podiatry. You can be assured of expert diagnosis and care when you dial (845) 352-0757 at our Spring Valley office for an appointment. Remember, you can also set one up right now using our contact form online.

Help for Your Foot & Ankle Issues

At Brook Valley Podiatry, Dr. Stuart Birnbaum treats many patients with foot and ankle issues. We invite you to schedule an appointment at our Spring Valley office by dialing (845) 352-0757. If you prefer, our online contact form can also be used to reach out to us.

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