Common Foot & Ankle Issues

Foot and ankle problems typically fall into several categories:

  • A result of physical stress, improper footwear, or minor mechanical changes in the foot
  • Joint problems, usually as a result of arthritis
  • Genetically inherited foot problems that are present at birth
  • Bacterial, viral, or fungal infections
  • Tumors, or abnormal tissue growth on the foot that may be benign or malignant, classified as Neoplastic disorders
  • Severe injuries to the foot or ankle, such as breakages or fractures

The Leading Foot Problems Are:

  • Bunions—joints in the big toes that are not aligned properly and become sore. Typically, the first joint of the big toe will be angled outward at a diagonal while the second joint will be angled in the direction of the other toes. Bunions are either inherited or caused by shoes that are too tight in the toe area. Surgery is necessary to correct the issue.
  • Hammertoes—the toe is bent into a claw-like posture, usually as the result of muscle imbalance. Though any toe can be affected, the second toe is more likely to become affected if a bunion causes the big toe to push into it. To ease discomfort, choose shoes and socks that give your toes plenty of space.
  • Heel Spurs—bone growths on the bottom, forepart of the heel bone caused when the plantar tendon tugs at its connection to the heel bone. The spur is formed as the area begins to calcify. To lessen the tension on the ligaments and prevent the development of heel spurs, wear appropriate athletic shoes and practice a proper warm up before athletic activity.
  • Ingrown Toenails—toenails with sides or sharp corners that dig into the skin and cause pain, usually caused by improper nail clipping. Other causes include poor foot structure, fungal infections, injury, shoe pressure, or heredity. Women are at a higher risk of ingrown toenails than men. Trim toenails straight across and wear suitable shoes to avert the problem. Respond to foot pain immediately.
  • Neuromas—benign growths of nerves usually between the third and fourth toes that become enlarged. The cause is tissue causing friction and irritating the nerves. Abnormal bone structure or ill-fitting footwear can cause the tissues to rub. Orthotics, or shoe inserts, will alleviate minor neuromas while surgical removal is necessary in more severe cases.
  • Plantar Fasciitis—heel or arch pain caused by an inflammation of the foot, caused by improper foot mechanics and an assortment of foot injuries. Orthotics, or shoe inserts, can help lessen pain while other therapies such as foot exercises and icing can adjust the foot position.
  • Sesamoiditis— inflammation or rupture of the sesamoids (2 small bones under the first metatarsal bone). Orthotics and proper footwear can help to alleviate the problem.
  • Shin Splints— pain on either side of the leg bone due to tendon or muscle inflammation. The main cause is excessive foot pronation, but shin splints can also be caused by disproportionate muscle groups in the leg. Stretching both before and after physical activity and using shoe inserts can help prevent the problem.
  • Stress Fractures— partial cracks in the bone caused by overuse. Stress fractures in the foot and toes may heal on their own with complete rest. Additional shoe padding can help prevent fractures. If left untreated, the partial cracks can become full fractures in the bone, which requires casting and movement restrictions.

The foot is made up of 26 bones, 33 joints, 107 ligaments, 19 muscles, and numerous tendons. Complex biomechanics keep all these parts in the right position and moving together. Given these intricacies, it is not surprising that most people will experience some problem with their feet at some time in their lives.

Within each foot, the essential structure can be summed up as follows:

People call a doctor of podiatry for help diagnosing and treating a wide array of foot and ankle problems. Please contact our office if you experience one of the following:

There are signs of bacterial infection, including:

A podiatrist, or a doctor of podiatric medicine, is a professional who provides medical diagnosis and treatment of foot and ankle conditions. Some of the most common conditions a podiatrist treats are calluses, bunions, ingrown toenails, heel pain, spurs, hammertoes, warts, corns, and neuromas.  Podiatrists can also treat more serious conditions such as fractures, sprains, infections, and injuries of the foot and ankle. After attending undergraduate medical school, podiatrists must obtain a doctorate degree in podiatry. They must pass state and national exams and be licensed in their state.

There are an estimated 15,000 practicing podiatrists in the US according to the American Podiatric Medical Association. Because of a rapidly aging population, podiatrists are in high demand. Additionally, foot conditions are among the most ignored and prevalent health complications affecting people in this country.

Typically, podiatrists:

  1. Don’t ignore foot pain. It is not normal. If you experience any type of persistent pain in the foot or ankle, please contact our office.
  2. Inspect your feet regularly. Pay attention to changes in color and temperature. Look for thick or discolored nails (a sign of developing fungus), and check for cracks or cuts in the skin. Peeling or scaling on the soles of feet may indicate Athlete’s Foot. Any growth on the foot is not considered normal.
  3. Wash your feet regularly, especially between the toes, and be sure to dry them completely.
  4. Trim toenails straight across, but not too short. Be careful not to cut nails in corners or on the sides; this can lead to ingrown toenails. Persons with diabetes, poor circulation, or heart problems should not treat their own feet, because they are more prone to infection.
  5. Make sure that your shoes fit properly. Purchase new shoes later in the day when feet tend to be at their largest, and replace worn out shoes as soon as possible.
  6. Select and wear the right shoe for each sport or activity that you are engaged in (e.g., running shoes for running).
  7. Alternate shoes, don’t wear the same pair of shoes every day.
  8. Avoid walking barefooted. Your feet will be more prone to injury and infection. At the beach or when wearing sandals always use sunblock on your feet.
  9. Be cautious when using home remedies for foot ailments. Self-treatment may turn a minor problem into a major one.
  10. If you are a diabetic, please contact our office and schedule a check-up at least once a year.