Dr. Theall's Blog

Posts for category: Arthritis

By Dr. Bruce Theall
February 08, 2016
Category: Arthritis
Tags: swelling   arthritis   achilles tendon  

Everyone has bad habits, whether it is eating snacks late at night, leaving the toilet seat up, or chewing food with your mouth open, these ‘habits’  we are told as children will one day develop into bad habits when we are adults.  A very common ‘habit’ that many people are guilty of is “knuckle cracking/joint cracking”.  Many of us do this on a daily basis in our hands and feet and are not sure of the repercussions it may have in the future.  Let’s discuss how this ‘bad habit’ may affect you. 

When you “crack your knuckles” or cause joint manipulation, you are actually doing more bursting of the joint than cracking.  When you crack your knuckles, it sounds like a “crack”, but nothing is cracking or breaking.  The popping noise you hear is caused by small air bubbles that are between the joints with synovial fluid, which is used to lubricate all joints in your body to decrease friction.  The joints in your hands and feet are common areas for “cracking”, specifically in the foot at the first metatarsalphalangeal joint (1st MPJ), “the big toe joint”, and if that sound that can be produced with voluntary control that may be a sign of arthritis at the joint.  The “cracking” sounds can also be produced in the back/neck vertebrae, hips, wrists, elbows, fingers, shoulders, other toes, ankles, knees, jaws, and around the Achilles tendon.  

If you believe the old wives tale of popping joints, especially the knuckles, leads to arthritis or other joint problems, then you will be sorely mistaken.  Current medical research thus far has been unable to link any correlation between knuckle/joint cracking to any long-term effects on the joints.  However, the cracking sound in the big toe joint in your foot could be a sign of arthritis.  The big toe joint is the site of a great deal of daily abuse from walking or running.   Every step you take, 65% of your body weight is transferred off of that toe with each step.  The first signs and symptoms of arthritis at the big toe can be pain/stiffness, and swelling accompanied by a ‘pop’ or ‘cracking’ sound.  A main cause of this is called hallux limitus, which is the limited motion of the joint.  If this is left untreated, it can develop into a much more painful degenerative joint condition, which is why it is very important for you to see your podiatrist for a full comprehensive foot evaluation for this and other conditions.

A podiatrist is the only person that is trained in a specialized field in medicine for anything concerning the lower extremity, foot and ankle, that is why it is vital for you to visit your podiatrist if there are any problems concerning your feet.  Dr. Theall’s office at Gentle Touch Foot Care is a unique experience because of his expertise in treating a wide variety of foot and ankle problems.  If there are any other questions feel free to contact the office at 973 673 – 3668 (FOOT) or go to our website www.drtheall.com for more information including our video library.  Remember to always support your feet and they will carry you everywhere!!!

By Dr.Bruce Theall
July 25, 2014
Category: Arthritis
Tags: gout   arthritis   obesity  

Gout is a type of arthritis caused when crystals of uric acid accumulate in the joints. Normally uric acid dissolves in the blood. It passes through the kidneys and out of the body in urine, but uric acid can build up in the body when either the body increases the amount of uric acid it makes or the kidneys do not get rid of enough uric acid. This can be caused by eating too many foods high in purines. (Protein Rich Foods)

Although gout is mostly associated with kings of old, nowadays actors, musicians and even athletes suffer from this disease. John Leto developed Gout-like foot pain after gaining 60 pounds for a film and theBritish king, Henry VIII whom was overweight was plagued with gout and was often pictured holding a chunk of meat or glass of wine. All which are direct contributors to increase the risk of gout. This monarch is one reason gout used to be known as the "disease of kings."

The truth is that this type of arthritis is on the rise with 8 million Americans having gout and rates having doubled in the past 50 years. The jump in prevalence rates may be associated with a greater frequency of obesity and hypertension. Gout attacks occur suddenly. The big toe is the most common joint affected but there can be pain in the ankles, knees, hands and wrists. The joint becomes red, hot, swollen and very painful. If left untreated the attacks occur more frequently and eventually permanent damage and deformities can occur.

A podiatrist can utilize special injection therapy to immediately relieve the pain to the affected foot. If you are suffering from gout, contact Dr.Bruce Theall or Dr.Sam Adegboyega as soon as possible to schedule an appointment. 


Filming Iron Man 3 turned out to be a dangerous proposition for Robert Downey Jr.  A year ago, the star broke his ankle while performing a stunt on the set.  The May 2013 smash has already raked in over $400 million dollars and Downey, no stranger to setbacks, has recovered.  However, it’s possible that this injury, just like Tony Stark’s enemies, will come back with a vengeance. 

The name of this nemesis is post-traumatic arthritis of the ankle, and it occurs after a fracture or other type of severe injury.  If you begin feeling pain, joint stiffness, swelling, tenderness, or other symptoms in your ankle, this may be the reason.  Arthritis pain is caused by the wearing away of cartilage--this buffer eventually erodes to the point that bone rubs against bone causing pain and discomfort.

While a previous break may not have resulted from something as glamorous as a movie stunt, prior injuries affect the health of your feet.  Always remember to note your past medical history during your appointment.  Along with a physical exam, imaging technology may be used to diagnose arthritis of the ankle. 

Star treatment for ankle arthritis can begin with something as simple as new shoes.  Footwear with a wide toe box and plenty of wiggle room will allow for custom orthotics that may help to balance the body’s weight properly.  This even distribution will relieve pressure from the ankle.  Exercises done at home or with a physical therapist may decrease stiffness and increase your range of motion.  Maintaining a healthy weight is another great way to give your feet a break.  If conservative measures fail, surgery may be necessary.

If post-injury ankle pain has you down, arthritis may be the culprit.  Call Drs. Theall and Adegboyega to aid you in your fight against this painful disease of the ankle.  Dial Gentle Touch Foot Care in East Orange, NJ at 973-673-3668, or schedule an appointment online.  

By Dr. Bruce Theall
November 12, 2012
Category: Arthritis


Researchers at Ghent University Hospital in Belgium have developed a digital 3D foot scanner that can identify signs of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) before they become conventionally visible. As reported in the journal Arthritis Care and Research, the scanner was able to detect irregularities in the feet of arthritic patients that earlier tests had been unable to find. This 3D scanner may therefore prove to be an important tool in early detection and diagnosis of RA.

This new digital scanner is good news for patients suffering from RA because it allows podiatrists to tackle the problem right at its source. If you have rheumatoid arthritis or foot pain you think might be associated with RA, it is highly recommended to seek the care of a podiatrist like Dr. Bruce Theall of Gentle Touch Foot Care.  Dr. Theall can determine if your foot pain or ankle pain is being caused by RA and determine the appropriate treatment options.

Arthritic Foot Care           

In an average lifetime, we walk approximately 75,000 miles. This can put a great deal of stress on the 26 bones and 30 joints that we have in our feet. As we get older, our feet lose flexibility and elasticity. Our shock absorbers weaken, and if arthritis comes into play, the joints become inflamed and distorted. Arthritic foot care and treatment would become imperative at this point.

It is best to take care of your feet by wearing well-fitted shoes. Certain conditions may develop when you wear shoes that don’t fit properly, for example hammertoes, neuroma, and bunions. Wearing shoes that have a lower heel and extra room in the shoe can help your feet be comfortable. In cases of rheumatoid arthritis, the arch in your foot may become problematic. Buying shoes with arch support will help; it is also a good idea to buy shoes that contour to your foot.

Alleviating Arthritic Pain

Specific exercises may help; stretching the Achilles tendon can prevent further pain and injury. Stretching can also increase your mobility. Most of the pain can be alleviated with anti-inflammatory drugs, heat, as well as topical medications with capsaicin. Massages can also help to alleviate pain temporarily.

It is best to see your doctor for the treatment that is right for your needs and symptoms. Conditions may vary, and a foot specialist can help you determine the right health care for your feet.

If you have any questions, please visit our video library or contact our office located in East Orange, NJ. We offer the newest diagnostic and treatment technologies for all your foot and ankle needs.