A bunion is a bony bump that forms on the joint at the base of your big toe. They can develop from an inherited structural defect, excess stress on your foot, or can result from an existing medical condition.
For the most part, bunions require no medical treatment. However, if you are experiencing one or more of the following, a podiatrist can help alleviate your symptoms.
Corns tend to be smaller than calluses and are the hard center is surrounded by irritated skin. While corns can be found on the bottom of the foot where pressure is usually applied, it is more common that you find corns on the tops and sides of your toes and even between your toes. When pressure is applied, corns can cause significant pain and discomfort.
Calluses, on the other hand, don’t usually cause pain. They usually develop on the soles of your feet, especially under the heels or balls, on your palms, or on your knees. Calluses vary in size and shape and are often larger than corns.
Hammertoe is a deformity where one or both joints of the second, third, fourth or fifth toes begin to bend outside of their normal alignment. Pressure can begin to weigh heavy on the toes as you wear shoes which is where pain and other symptoms develop.
Hammertoes typically begin with small symptoms and deformities and continue to worsen with time. In its beginning stages, hammertoes are often impressionable which means they can be controlled using minimal treatment. It is important to know the signs of hammertoes to get them evaluated early. If left untreated, hammertoes can become more firm and difficult to manipulate, requiring surgery.
Plantar warts are caused by the HPV virus and cause tiny cuts and breaks on the bottom of your feet.
While most plantar warts are not a major health concern, it is advised you see a doctor to have the warts examined and removed. Some symptoms include small, rough lesions on the base of the foot, calluses in one spot, and tenderness when walking or standing for long periods of time.
Heel Spurs/Plantar Fasciitis
Heel spurs occur in at least 50% of people who have plantar fasciitis. Past treatments for heel spurs, a bony growth that begins on the front of your heel bone and points toward the arch of your foot, included surgery to remove the growth. Nowadays, surgery is rarely a treatment option and more plans for physical therapy, ice, and pain medications are used to treat heel spurs.
Chronic ankle instability is usually caused by repeated ankle sprains and is described as the gradual giving way of the outside of the ankle. Some symptoms of ankle instability include constant inflammation or swelling, tenderness, and instability in the ankle. After a sprained ankle, the ligaments become stretched and torn. Proper rehabilitation is required to strengthen the muscles around the ankle and rehabilitate the tissues within the ankle that affect your balance. In addition, physical therapy, medications, and bracing can help treat chronic ankle instability. Failure to do so may result in repeated ankle sprains, or possibly surgery.
Flat foot is a condition where the arches on the inside of your feet are flattened which causes the sole of the foot to touch the floor when standing upright. It is likely for flat feet to be caused by the arches not fully developing during childhood and is considered a very common and painless condition. On the other hand, flat feet can occur after an injury or from the normal aging process.
While it is common not to experience any pain or symptoms of flat feet, some people do tend to sense pain in the heel or arch area. Physical activity can irritate the area and inflame the foot along the inside of the ankle. This can be caused by the tendon that is supporting the arch being stretched as it is depreciating.
Athlete’s foot (tinea pedis) is a specific type of fungal infection that typically begins between the toes. A common cause of athlete's foot is sweaty feet that are confined to tight shoes for a long period of time. Signs and symptoms of athlete’s foot include a scaly rash that usually causes itching, stinging and burning. Athlete’s foot is contagious and should be carefully monitored and treated. Athlete’s foot can easily be treated with antifungal medications, but the infection is likely to recur. Prescription medications also are available.
Achilles tendinitis is caused by overuse of the band of tissues that connects the lower region of your calf muscle to your heel bone, also known as your Achilles tendon. Those at a higher risk for Achilles tendinitis are runners engaging in intense training or middle-aged people who participate in sports on occasion.
A neuroma can occur in many areas of the body when nerve tissue thickens. Morton’s neuroma is the most typical neuroma that occurs in the foot and it occurs between the third and fourth toes. Also known as an intermetatarsal neuroma, the name describes its location in the ball of the foot.
Compression and irritation typically cause the nerve tissue to thicken. This pressure creates inflammation of the nerve, ultimately causing untreatable damage to the nerves in the foot.
Geriatric Foot Care
As we age, foot problems are almost inevitable and completely normal. However, there are important steps to take to make sure you stay on your feet.
Health problems such as diabetes, arthritis, and circulatory issues may cause problems that present themselves in the feet. It is very important to monitor your foot health and seek medical attention whenever you notice a problem. Below are some daily tips and tricks to keep your feet healthy.
A sprained ankle occurs when you twist your ankle in an abnormal way causing the ligaments holding your ankle bones together to stretch or tear. Most sprained ankles involve injuries to the ligaments on the outer side of the ankle. Treatment for a sprained ankle depends on the severity of the injury. Although you may just need proper rest and pain medications to heal, it is important to have the sprain looked at by a professional to determine the severity and proper treatment.
Fungal infections in the toe or fingernails can appear as thickened, discolored, or disfigured. While it may seem like the condition is just an aesthetic concern, fungal infections can lead to worsened symptoms and pain. Diabetes, a weakened immune system, and the normal aging process are all causes associated with fungal infections. It is more likely for senior citizens and adults to develop a fungal infection as opposed to children.
As a result of damaged peripheral nerves, peripheral neuropathy can occur causing symptoms like weakness, numbness, burning, and tingling in the hands and feet as well as other parts of the body. Traumatic injuries, diabetes, and even some exposure to toxins can cause peripheral nerve damage.
Once damage to nerves occurs, the symptoms of peripheral neuropathy are gradual and worsen with time. It is important to maintain a healthy lifestyle to aid in the prevention of damage to those specific nerves.
Diabetic Foot Care
Daily preventative care can help you decrease your risk of developing these other serious conditions like ulcers and infections. Inspecting your feet at the end of the day to look for any abnormalities, maintaining proper hygiene, keeping your feet warm in cold weather, encouraging blood flow in the feet, and maintaining an overall healthy lifestyle can discourage other conditions from developing.
While many people know that diabetes affects blood sugar, some may not know that one of the complications of long term issues with high blood sugar happens in the feet. Those with diabetes are especially prone to nerve damage in the foot, as well as infections, ulcers, fungal infections, and, at worst - amputation. Diabetic shoes are one way to help ease the discomfort and reduce the likelihood that these conditions will develop or worsen.
A doctor must prescribe diabetic shoes, and an orthotist or therapeutic shoe fitter must fit them individually. At Steven A. Hartung, DPM, we are proud to offer these services to our patients. Sometimes diabetic shoes also entail inserts, arch supports, wedges, and customized heels. The combination of these deep, cushioned, tailored shoes and any additional supporting structures help to prevent discomfort, increase circulation, and help those with diabetes stay mobile and active - two things integral to a healthy lifestyle.
Swift is a cutting edge, FDA Cleared technology that has proven to be highly effective in the removal of plantar warts. It delivers low dose microwave energy through a specialized probe that targets and effectively treats the underlying HPV virus by stimulating a natural immune response in the body. We like to say that we’re addressing the root cause; not the symptom.
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