are over 300 foot disorders, these are the most common.
The most important thing to remember is that early treatment
can save a lot of pain and expense. For this web site,
I’ve included short descriptions of the most common
problems we treat. However, this alphabetical list does
not include all foot and ankle problems. For more extensive
information check the American Podiatric Medical Association
web site at http://www.apma.org.
Athlete's foot is a skin disease caused by a fungus,
usually occurring between the toes. The fungus most
commonly attacks the feet because shoes create a warm,
dark, and humid environment which encourages fungus
growth. The warmth and dampness of areas around swimming
pools, showers, and locker rooms, are also breeding
grounds for fungi. The signs of athlete's foot, singly
or combined, are drying skin, itching scaling, inflammation,
and blisters. Blisters often lead to cracking of the
skin. When blisters break, small raw areas of tissue
are exposed, causing pain and swelling. Itching and
burning may increase as the infection spreads. Athlete's
foot may spread to the soles of the feet and to the
toenails. It can be spread to other parts of the body,
notably the groin and underarms.
A bone spur is an overgrowth of bone as a result of
trauma or reactive stress of a ligament or tendon. This
growth can cause pain and even restrict motion of a
joint, depending on its location and size. Spurs may
also be located under the toenail plate, causing nail
deformity and pain. Surgical treatment and procedure
is based on the size, location, and symptoms of the
A bunion is an enlargement of the joint at the base
of the big toe—the metatarsophalangeal (MTP) joint—that
forms when the bone or tissue at the big toe joint moves
out of place. This forces the toe to bend toward the
others, causing an often painful lump of bone on the
foot. Since this joint carries a lot of the body’s
weight while walking, bunions can cause extreme pain
if left untreated. The MTP joint itself may become stiff
and sore, making even the wearing of shoes difficult
This is an inflammation of the bursa, a sac of tissue
that protects bony prominences. It is typically treated
with conservative measures.
A callous is a build-up of dead skin cells, usually
on the sole of the foot. They are typically painful
and are caused by pressure on bony prominences. They
may be pared down for temporary relief. Other measures
are available for long-term treatment.
A corn is a thickening of the skin on bony prominences,
always on the toe. They can be treated or removed with
surgery, if necessary.
Many foot problems do not respond to "conservative"
management. Often when pain or deformity persists, forefront
surgery may be appropriate to help alleviate them, or
to restore the function of your foot.
Fungal Nails is an infection of the bed and plate underlying
the surface of the nail, and is caused by various types
of fungi, which are commonly found throughout the environment.
When the tiny organisms take hold, the nail may become
thicker, yellowish-brown or darker in color, and foul
smelling. The infection is capable of spreading to other
toenails, the skin, or even the fingernails. The toenails
are especially vulnerable around damp areas where people
are likely to be walking barefoot -- swimming pools,
locker rooms, and showers, for example. Injury to the
nail bed may make it more susceptible to all types of
infection, including fungal infection. Those who suffer
chronic diseases, such as diabetes, circulatory problems,
or immune-deficiency conditions, are especially prone
to fungal nails.
Gout is an extremely painful condition caused by a
build-up of uric acid, typically affecting the big toe
joint. But it can also affect other joints in the body.
It is usually treated with steroids.
A hammertoe deformity is a contracture of the toe(s),
frequently caused by an imbalance in the tendon or joints
of the toes. Due to the "buckling" effect
of the toe(s), hammertoes may become painful secondary
to footwear irritation and pressure. Corn and callus
formation may occur as a hammertoe becomes more rigid
over time, making it difficult to wear shoes. This deformity
may be corrected through a surgical procedure to realign
Heel pain is generally the result of faulty biomechanics
(walking gait abnormalities) that place too much stress
on the heel bone and the soft tissues that attach to
it. The stress may also result from injury, or a bruise
incurred while walking, running, or jumping on hard
surfaces; wearing poorly constructed footwear; or being
overweight. The heel bone is the largest of the 26 bones
in the human foot, which also has 33 joints and a network
of more than 100 tendons, muscles, and ligaments. Like
all bones, it is subject to outside influences that
can affect its integrity and its ability to keep us
on our feet. Heel pain, sometimes disabling, can occur
in the front, back, or bottom of the heel.
Ingrown nails, the most common nail impairment, are
nails whose corners or sides dig painfully into the
soft tissue of nail grooves, often leading to irritation,
redness, and swelling. Usually, toenails grow straight
out. Sometimes, however, one or both corners or sides
curve and grow into the flesh. The big toe is usually
the victim of this condition, but other toes can also
become affected. Ingrown toenail may be caused by improperly
trimmed nails, heredity, shoe pressure, or repeated
trauma to the feet from normal activities.
Toenails often serve as barometers of our health; they
are diagnostic tools providing the initial signal of
the presence or onset of systemic diseases. For example,
the pitting of nails and increased nail thickness can
be manifestations of psoriasis. Concavity—nails
that are rounded inward instead of outward—can
foretell iron deficiency anemia. Some nail problems
can be conservatively treated with topical or oral medications
while others require partial or total removal of the
nail. Any discoloration or infection should be evaluated.
An irritation of a nerve may produce a neuroma, which
is a benign enlargement of a nerve segment, commonly
found between the third and fourth toes. Several factors
may contribute to the formation of a neuroma. Trauma,
arthritis, high-heeled shoes, or an abnormal bone structure
are just some of the conditions that may cause a neuroma.
Symptoms such as burning or tingling to adjacent toes
and even numbness are commonly seen with this condition.
If conservative treatment does not relieve the symptoms,
then surgical treatment may be appropriate.
Orthotics are custom-made shoe inserts, prescribed
by a podiatrist, made to accommodate a foot deformity.
They can improve foot function.
Tendonitis is an inflammation of the tendon (the end
of the muscle that attaches to the bone). It can be
painful and is treated with rest and ice packs. Occasionally,
cortical steroid injections may be a necessary treatment.
Warts are one of several soft tissue conditions of
the foot that can be quite painful. They are caused
by a virus, which generally invades the skin through
small or invisible cuts and abrasions. They can appear
anywhere on the skin, but, technically, only those on
the sole are properly called plantar warts. They are
often mistaken for corns or calluses—which are
layers of dead skin that build up to protect an area
which is being continuously irritated. The wart, however,
is a viral infection.