Conditions affecting the foot & Ankle
Bunions are common foot deformities involving a painful, bony bump on the inside of the foot at the base of the big toe. “Hallux valgus” is another name for bunions. They form when your big toe is consistently pushed against your other toe, causing enlargement of the big toe joint. Wearing tight, narrow shoes can cause bunions or worsen them over time.
Ankle pain includes any discomfort in the area connecting the lower leg and heel. It can result from ankle sprain, ankle instability, overuse, lack of use, or underlying disease or conditions. Swelling, bruising, tenderness, burning, numbness, and tingling are just some of the symptoms that can accompany ankle pain.
Hammer Toe is the curling or bending of the toe, commonly due to wearing shoes that are too short or narrow. It can affect any toe on the foot but most often affects the second or third toe. Wearing roomier shoes, using shoe inserts or splinting the toe are at-home treatments that can help treat mild cases. To fully correct Hammer Toe, a patient may need to consult a podiatrist.
Heel pain results from the consistent stress or pounding of the heel. Plantar fasciitis can also cause heel pain. Heel pain can be very mild or very disabling. A podiatrist can help determine the source of your heel pain, recommend treatments, and provide tips to prevent future pain and inflammation.
Ankle instability is caused by weakness in the bones, ligaments or tendons associated with the ankle joint. The patient may notice their ankle (specifically, the outer/lateral side) giving out during activities, while walking, or even while standing. Chronic ankle instability most notably develops after multiple ankle sprains. Ankle braces or physiotherapy are common treatment methods to strengthen and heal the ankle joint.
Ankle impingement refers to pain in the ankle, and can present along the front or back of the ankle. It occurs due to compression of bony or soft tissue structures, usually from repetitive dorsiflexion (the action of raising the foot upwards toward the shin) of the foot. Posterior (back) and anterior (front) ankle impingement are commonly treated with rest, ice, compression, and elevation.
An ankle sprain occurs after severe overstretching or a tear in the tissues (ligaments) that support the ankle joint. This results from any unnatural twisting or turning of the ankle. Minor sprains can heal with rest and little treatment. However, if you experience severe pain while walking or do not see improvements after 5 - 7 days, you should consult a podiatrist.
An Osteochondral Defect (OCD) is a central area of joint damage to the cartilage and underlying bone, often resulting from injury. In the ankle, this condition usually occurs in the talus. The talus is a small bone that lies between the heel bone and the tibia and fibula (bones of the lower leg).
Achilles Tendinitis results from overuse of the Achilles tendon (the tissues that connect the muscles at the back of the lower leg to the heel bone). It most often appears in runners due to a sudden increase in intensity or duration of their activity. Achilles tendinitis is very treatable, but usually requires self-care strategies to prevent future occurrences.
A Ganglion Cyst is a round or oval, noncancerous sac of fluid that appears over a joint or tendon. Some may be small and go away on their own. If your Ganglion Cyst causes problems or presses on a nearby nerve, the patient may need to consult a podiatrist to have the cyst drained.
ULCERS OF THE LOWER EXTREMITY
Foot/ankle/lower leg ulcers (open sores in the skin) are common in diabetic patients and require removal of the unhealthy tissue and advanced wound care techniques to promote healing.
FOOT & ANKLE FRACTURES
Foot and ankle fractures can occur in the same way sprained ankles do. Unlike a sprain, a fracture results in a break to the bone. The signs of ankle fracture are usually obvious and include pain, swelling around the ankle, and bruising. In severe fractures, the patient may see deformities of the ankle joint or exposed bone in some cases.
Flatfoot is a condition in which the arch of the foot collapses. People with flat feet will notice that the entire sole of their foot touches the floor while standing. There are many causes of flatfoot, including genetics, and many people don’t experience symptoms. In cases of foot pain associated with flatfoot, treatments may include arch supports for footwear, stretching or a more supportive shoe.
A high arch is the opposite of flatfoot and occurs when the sole of a person’s foot is elevated more than normal. In some cases high arch is present from birth, but it commonly results from neurological disorders such as cerebral palsy, polio or muscular dystrophy. There are many conservative measures available to stabilize the lower limbs and relieve pain. However, if these are not enough, a patient may require surgery.
Plantar fasciitis refers to inflammation of the band of tissue along the bottom of the foot (from the heel bone to the toes). Symptoms include pain in the heel or in the bottom of the foot while walking. Plantar fasciitis can often be self-managed with conservative treatments such as icing, rest, and stretching.
Nerve impingement is caused by the compression or squeezing of a nerve. In the foot and ankle, it is commonly caused by tarsal tunnel syndrome (compression of the tibial nerve) or sciatica (compression of the sciatic nerve in the low back). Numbness, tingling or weakness in the foot are common symptoms.
TARSAL TUNNEL SYNDROME
Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome causes ankle pain, burning, numbness, or weakness due to a compressed tibial nerve. It requires a medical diagnosis and treatment by a medical professional. In many cases, tarsal tunnel results from a prior injury. Treatments include avoiding specific activities and the use of orthotics or anti-inflammatories.
Venous insufficiency is a condition in which weak valves in the veins cause pressure buildup and a reverse of blood flow in the feet and legs. Swelling in the feet and ankles can be an early sign of venous insufficiency. Those who experience symptoms of venous insufficiency should consult a medical professional.
Infection of the bone is called Osteomyelitis. It is a rare, but very serious condition and requires emergency care. It commonly results from recent trauma, surgery, or in some cases from an injection administered in or around the bone. Symptoms include pain, fever, and chills.
An ingrown toenail is a very common condition in which the corner of a nail grows into the skin surrounding it. Proper cutting of the toenails can prevent ingrown nails. Symptoms are noticeable and include pain, redness or swelling at the site of the ingrown nail. Many people can remove the toenail on their own. In some cases, especially if infection occurs, it is best to consult your podiatrist.
Fungal infections of the toenail can occur in anyone and the associated signs are usually cosmetic. Thick, crumbly or weakened nails are some of the noticeable changes in appearance. In rare cases, a fungal infection may lead to pain or produce a foul odor. Fungal infections do not go away on their own and require the advice of a medical professional.
Athlete’s foot is a fungal infection that appears between the toes but can also spread to the toenails. Hence the name, athlete’s foot is most commonly seen in people with frequently sweaty feet who wear tight-fitting footwear. Because it can be easily spread, it does require treatment using topical antifungal medications.
Calluses are tough, painful areas of skin that are commonly found on the soles of the feet, particularly in the heel or ball of the foot (due to friction or rubbing). Many calluses can be treated at home with a topical medication or pumice stone. In cases of pain due to a callus, please seek the advice of a medical professional.
Plantar warts typically occur on weight-bearing areas of the foot. These are hard, coarse growths caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV) and easily spread. Treatments for plantar warts include topical remedies, salicylic acid or surgical removal in some cases.
There are many causes of accumulation of fluid in the feet. Standing or walking a lot can cause fluid retention, as well as pregnancy. In some cases, swelling can result from a reaction to medication, an injury or heart, liver or kidney disease. If you experience any signs of infection, pain, fever, or a change in color of the leg, call your doctor immediately.
Neuropathy occurs when there is damage to the nerves that lie outside of the brain and spinal cord. There are many conditions that can cause neuropathy. The patient may experience weakness, numbness or pain in the feet as a result of a compromised nerve.
Metatarsalgia is inflammation in the ball of the foot. Though not a disease in itself, metatarsalgia can be a symptom of other conditions or diseases. It commonly results from overuse or frequent high-impact activities, making athletes very susceptible to forefoot inflammation or injury. Pain at the end of the metatarsal bones is the primary indicator of metatarsalgia. The pain is usually worsened by walking or running.
Gout is a type of arthritis that causes severe pain, redness, warmth, tenderness, and swelling (often around the big toe). It is caused by excessive uric acid buildup and crystallization in the joints. People who suffer from gout should consult their doctor for medical advice. Treatments include behavioral and lifestyle modifications and medication.
PERIPHERAL ARTERIAL DISEASE
Peripheral arterial disease is a common circulatory condition which reduces blood flow to the limbs. It is caused by a narrowing of blood vessels due to build up of fat and calcium inside the arteries. Age, diabetes, and smoking are common risk factors. Symptoms include pain, numbness, weakness or cramping in the legs, hair loss or reduced growth on the feet and legs, slowed growth of the toenails or coldness in the leg or foot.
A neuroma is a benign growth or thickening of the nerve tissue and can be found anywhere in the body. In the foot, neuromas are commonly found between the third and fourth toes. The majority of patients who present with neuromas are women who wear high-heeled shoes. Symptoms may include pain, burning, tingling or numbness.
Arthritis is inflammation of any joint. In advanced stages it can result in thinned cartilage and bone-on-bone friction. Arthritis is common in the joints of the foot and ankle. Signs and symptoms include stiffness, swelling around the joint, bone spurs, deformity or instability. There is no cure for arthritis, but there are many options available to slow its progression and relieve pain.