Foot Conditions A-Z
Achilles tendinitis is a condition where the tendon connecting the back of your leg to your heel becomes swollen and painful near the bottom of the foot. The swollen tendon is referred to as Achilles tendinitis. Symptoms include pain in the heel and along the tendon when running or walking.
Arch pain occurs when there is inflammation and/or a burning sensation in the arch of the foot. Pain in this area can mean the bones, ligaments, and muscles are overworked and tired. There are many different causes that are attributed to arch pain, such as a structural imbalance or even an injury to the foot.
This foot condition is not confined to athletes, despite the name. Athlete’s foot is a fungal infection that develops in the moist areas between and around the toes but can spread to other areas of the foot as well. This type of fungal infection is highly contagious and can be spread by walking on contaminated objects, on floors, and by person to person. Athlete’s foot may cause itching, burning, pain, and scaling. The condition is more common in men than in women.
If you’re a runner, vigorous walker or participate in sports, chances are you’ve either heard of or personally experienced black toe. Black toe usually occurs when the feet are subjected to stress and strain and generally is the result of impact trauma, especially in the big toe. The toe’s nail bed can turn black as a result of bruising, fluid or blood build up.
No one is immune from aggravating blisters. Blisters often form on the hands from hard work or on the feet from shoes or by walking barefoot on rough surfaces. Blisters, however, are nothing to ignore because they are the potential gateway to more serious conditions, including infection or ulceration, if left untreated.
If the joint that connects your big toe to your foot has a swollen, sore bump, you may have a bunion. More than half of the women in America have bunions, a common deformity often inaccurately blamed on wearing tight, narrow shoes, as well as high heels. Bunions may occur in families, but many are from wearing tight shoes. Nine out of ten bunions happen to women. Nine out of ten women wear shoes that are too small. The misconceptions of the causes of a bunion are misplaced; heredity is almost always the culprit, not high heels or tight shoes. These can aggravate the condition and should still be avoided, however.
Bursitis of the foot is swelling of a fluid-filled sac at the back of the heel bone under the Achilles tendon. Heels bursitis often occurs from repeated use of the ankle, which causes the bursa (located in the back of the ankle by the heel) to become inflamed and fill with fluid.
Calluses and Corns
Calluses and corns are areas of hard, thick, dead skin on the foot. They form to protect the skin from injury, friction, and pressure. Calluses usually form on the ball of the foot, heel and underneath the big toe. Corns are usually found where toes rub together. Corns can be either soft or hard. Soft corns form in between toes whereas a hard corn is often found over a bony part of the toe. Calluses and corns are nothing to ignore. They can become quite thick and painful if not treated or removed.
Charcot foot is a deformity resulting from nerve damage in the foot or ankle and is more common in individuals with diabetes. The nerve damage causes a loss of sensation that increases the risk of injury to the feet. When the foot is injured repeatedly, the weight-bearing joints start breaking down. Early signs of Charcot foot include redness, swelling, and increased temperature of the foot.
Cold feet can be caused by poor circulation, exposure to the cold, a decreased metabolism, low thyroid condition, or a disorder of the nervous system.
Also known as “heel fissures,” cracked heels for most people are a cosmetic issue. However, if the cracks are deep they can be quite painful. Cracked heels are generally caused by dry skin and are difficult to treat if the skin around the rim of the heel is thickened or callused. In severe cases, the cracks or fissures can become infected.
Diabetic foot conditions develop from a combination of causes including poor circulation and neuropathy. Nerve damage from diabetes can cause you to lose feeling in your feet. You may not feel a cut, a blister or a sore. Foot injuries such as these can cause ulcers and infections. Serious cases may even lead to amputation. Damage to the blood vessels can also mean that your feet do not get enough blood and oxygen. It is then harder for your foot to heal if you do get a sore or infection.
Also known as “fallen arches” or referred to medically as “pronation,” flat feet are a cause of abnormal bone structure in which the arch of the foot collapses. This, in turn, causes the entire sole of the foot to come into near or complete contact with the ground.
Gout is a severe form of arthritis that can cause sudden attacks of heat, redness, and extreme tenderness, most commonly in the joint at the base of the big toe. The condition begins with a high build-up for uric acid in the bloodstream, which can form sharp needle-like crystal deposits near a joint. A sudden gout attack is characterized by pain, inflammation, and swelling that some people describe as feeling as though their toe is on fire.
Hammer toe is a deformity of the toe in which the end of the toe bends down into a claw-like deformity. At first, you may be able to move and straighten the toe. Over time, however, the toe will no longer straighten. Usually, a corn will form on top of the toe from rubbing against the top of footwear, and a callus will form on the bottom of the foot. These can become painful, especially when walking.
Heel pain has increased in frequency over the years. As our society ages, we are trying to stay more active. Heel pain has become a major problem in America, with over 10% of the population afflicted with the condition. Symptoms tend to be relatively consistent, with pain most prevalent in the morning after sitting. As time goes on, the pain can often intensify during the day.
The heel bone is the largest bone in the foot and unfortunately absorbs the most shock and pressure. A heel spur develops as an abnormal growth of the heel bone due to calcium deposits that form when the plantar fascia pulls away from the heel. This stretching of the plantar fascia is usually the result of flat feet. However, people with unusually high arches can also develop heel spurs. Heel spurs can cause extreme pain in the rear foot, especially while standing or walking.
Ingrown toenails are a painful, yet common condition that occurs when the skin on one or both sides of a nail grows over the edges of the nail, or when the nail itself grows into the skin. Aside from being very painful, this condition can also be associated with infection of the toe. The most common cause is cutting your toenails incorrectly, causing them to re-grow into the skin.
Morton’s Neuroma is a common foot problem associated with pain, swelling and/or an inflammation of a nerve, usually at the ball-of-the-foot between the 3rd and 4th toes. Symptoms of this condition include sharp pain, burning, and even a lack of feeling in the affected area. Morton’s Neuroma may also cause numbness, tingling, or cramping in the forefoot.
If your second toe is significantly longer than your big toe, you have what is termed Morton’s toe. Other nicknames include Greek toe or Royal toe. This hereditary condition can be frustrating at times, especially in the summer months when the toe can hang off the end of an otherwise comfortable pair of sandals. The lengths of the toes themselves are only part of the problem. The metatarsal bones which support the toes are usually involved as well.
Diabetic neuropathy is a complication of diabetes that affects the nerves. The most common type of nerve damage in the feet is peripheral neuropathy, which affects the peripheral nerves. Diabetic neuropathy can cause insensitivity or a loss of ability to feel pain, heat, and cold. Diabetics suffering from neuropathy can develop minor cuts, scrapes, blisters, or pressure sores that they may not be aware of due to the insensitivity. If these minor injuries are left untreated, complications may result and lead to ulceration and possibly even amputation.
Also referred to as flat feet, over-pronation is a common problem occurring in the walking process when a person’s arch collapses upon weight bearing. This motion can cause extreme stress or inflammation of the plantar fascia.
The outer parts of the foot, as a rule, are pressed more by footwear, and over time this can literally squeeze the pinky toe so much that it begins to sit on top of the fourth toe. Very pointy shoes, or shoes with a narrow toe box, are especially notorious culprits for this condition. Left untreated, overlapping toes can cause aggravation or inflammation of the affected toe joints, change in gait, and thickening of the skin and tissue.
Peripheral neuropathy is the most common type of nerve damage in the feet. Because this condition affects the peripheral nerves—the nerves that carry information from your brain and spinal cord–it can lead to changes such as tingling, numbness, and the inability to feel pain. With the loss of feeling minor cuts, scrapes, blisters, or pressure sores can go unnoticed; if these minor injuries are left untreated, complications can arise that lead to ulceration and ultimately even amputation.
Plantar fasciitis is inflammation of the plantar ligament which extends from the knuckle bones to the heel bone on the bottom of the foot and is one of the most common orthopedic complaints related to the foot. The condition occurs due to abnormal biomechanics in the foot which stresses the ligament. This causes an inflammatory, painful response on the bottom of the heel and arch.
Plantar warts are hard, grainy growths that usually appear on the heels or balls of the feet and are caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV). While most plantar warts are not a serious health concern and may not require treatment, they can eventually cause discomfort or pain.
Post tib-tendonitis is a strain of one of the tendons on the inner side of the ankle. Posterior tibial tendon problems usually occur just underneath the prominence of the inner side of the ankle. Most commonly, patients with posterior tibial tendonitis complain of pain in the inside of the foot and ankle, and occasionally have problems associated with an unsteady gait.
Pregnancy and your Feet
Over-pronation and edema a very common foot problem experienced during pregnancy. Over-Pronation, also referred to as flat feet, is caused when a person’s arch flattens out upon weight bearing and their feet roll inward when walking. This can create extreme stress or inflammation on the plantar fascia, the fibrous band of tissue that runs from the heel to the forefoot. Over-pronation can make walking very painful and can increase strain on the feet, calves and/or back.
Toenail fungus is an infection underneath the surface of the nail caused by fungi. When the tiny organisms take hold, the nail often becomes darker in color and smells foul. Debris may collect beneath the nail plate, white marks frequently appear on the nail plate, and the infection is capable of spreading to other toenails, the skin, or even the fingernails. If ignored, the infection can spread.