Your feet are very important to your daily activities. You need to be able to walk to accomplish exercise and many daily responsibilities. However, injuries, wear and tear issues, and orthopedic concerns can make it difficult to accomplish even small tasks. Some of the most common concerns of the feet and ankles include:
The Achilles tendon is located near the heel and is used for walking and running. Tendonitis is characterized by inflammation of the tendon.
Causes: Overuse or repetitive movements are the most common causes.
Symptoms: Pain in the heel is the primary symptom of Achilles tendonitis. Tenderness can also occur.
Conservative Treatments: Ice therapy, rest, physical therapy, and custom foot orthotics can be helpful for relieving pain.
Surgery: If conservative treatments are not helpful, surgery may be used to manually repair the tendon.
Arch Problems (High Arches or Flat Feet)
High arches and flat feet are common problems. Although flat feet may be present at birth, arches should develop normally in early childhood.
Causes: High arches are usually caused by a neurological disorder, such as cerebral palsy. Flat feet can occur when arches simply never form. It is also possible for arches to fall following an injury.
Symptoms: High arches can lead to instability and pain, and can contribute to the development of hammer toes and calluses. Flat feet can be present without any symptoms, or the patient might experience pain.
Conservative Treatments: Custom orthotics, bracing, and shoe modifications may be used to treat arch problems.
Surgery: In severe cases, surgery is performed to reconstruct the foot’s arch.
Arthritis is characterized by inflammation and pain of the joint.
Causes: Foot arthritis can be caused by aging and general wear and tear, but injury can also contribute.
Symptoms: Stiffness, pain, and swelling are common symptoms of foot arthritis.
Conservative Treatments: Orthotic devices, medications, steroid injections, physical therapy, and wearing a brace can all help to relieve symptoms of foot arthritis.
Surgery: For some, surgery is needed to improve the foot’s function.
A bunion is a bony bump located on the side of the big toe.
Causes: Improper foot mechanics cause bunions, as well as tight shoes.
Symptoms: Pain, burning, numbness, and inflammation are common symptoms of bunions.
Conservative Treatments: Padding, orthotic devises, and medications can be used to manage the pain that is experienced with bunions.
Surgery: If pain cannot be relieved, surgery may be performed to remove the bunion.
Chronic ankle instability is characterized by the ankle frequently turning, even on flat surfaces.
Causes: Chronic instability usually developed when a sprained ankle fails to heal properly.
Symptoms: Pain and tenderness are the most common symptoms.
Conservative Treatments: Physical therapy, bracing, and medications can help with chronic ankle instability.
Surgery: In some cases, surgery is used to repair damaged ligaments and restore stability to the ankle.
A fracture in the foot is a small break. A stress fracture is very small and is about the width of one hair.
Causes: Overuse, injuries, foot deformities, and wearing improper shoes can all lead to small fractures.
Symptoms: Swelling, pain, bruising, and redness can be signs of a fracture.
Conservative Treatments: A small fracture can lead to a full break without any treatment, so resting the foot is very important.
Surgery: Surgery is sometimes utilized to stabilize a fracture.
Hammertoes cause the toe joints to buckle, making the toes bend similar to a hammer shape.
Causes: Hammertoes are caused by an imbalance with the muscles and tendons. Wearing tight shoes can aggravate the condition.
Symptoms: Pain and difficulty moving the toes are the most common symptoms.
Conservative Treatments: Medications, splinting and wearing new shoes or custom orthotics can help with managing hammertoes.
Surgery: For extremely rigid hammertoes, surgery may be performed.
Metartarsalgia is characterized by inflammation in the ball of the foot.
Causes: This condition is commonly seen in patients who do a lot of jumping or running, or who wear shoes that are too small.
Symptoms: The inflammation is painful. You might notice that it improves with rest. Many patients also experience numbness or tingling, and report feeling that there is something in their shoe.
Conservative Treatments: Arch supports, shoe inserts, icing, and rest are used to treat metartarsalgia.
Morton’s neuroma is characterized by the thickening of the foot’s nerve tissue.
Causes: Anything that causes the nerve to be compressed can cause a neuroma, including running or wearing tight shoes.
Symptoms: Tingling and pain are common symptoms. Many patients also report feeling like they are stepping on a stone.
Conservative Treatments: Orthotics, ice therapy, padding, medications, and shoe modifications can help to manage mild to moderate neuromas.
Surgery: For more severe neuromas, surgery may be needed to remove the affected nerve.
This is the most common culprit for pain located at the bottom of the heel. The plantar fascia is a ligament that connects the heel to the front of the foot, and it can become inflamed.
Causes: Plantar fasciitis is caused by overuse and poor foot support.
Symptoms: Pain that worsens in the morning or during exercise is a common symptom.
Conservative Treatments: Rest, ice therapy, stretches, night splints, anti-inflammatory medications, and custom orthotics can be used to relieve pain and support the foot’s arch.
Surgery: For pain that does not subside, the plantar fascia may need to be cut to relieve tension.
Ankle sprains are very common, and occur when your foot twists in an abnormal way. There are different severities of sprains—they can involve just stretching the ligament or completely tearing the ligament’s fibers.
Causes: Sprains are typically caused by stepping too hard or stepping onto an uneven surface.
Symptoms: Tenderness, pain, and swelling are common symptoms.
Conservative Treatments: Rest, ice therapy, and wearing compression socks can help relieve symptoms while the sprain heals. Certain exercises are also helpful for restoring strength.
Surgery: In cases of extreme sprains, surgery may be needed to repair a torn ligament.
A tarsal coalition is an abnormal connection made between the tarsal bones. This connection can be made up of fibrous tissue, bone, or cartilage.
Causes: Usually, tarsal coalition is caused by improper development before birth. However, injury and infection can also contribute.
Symptoms: Fatigued legs, stiffness, limited motion, and pain are symptoms of tarsal coalition.
Conservative Treatments: Steroid injections, physical therapy, medications, and custom orthotics can be used to relieve pain and restore motion to the foot.
Surgery: Surgery may be used to remove the coalition.
Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome
Tarsal tunnel syndrome is characterized by the compression of the tibial nerve that occurs when it passes through the tarsal tunnel.
Causes: Tarsal tunnel syndrome is caused by compression on the posterior of the nerve.
Symptoms: Tingling, numbness, and shooting pain are common symptoms.
Conservative Treatments: Custom orthotics, injections, bracing, physical therapy, immobilization, and medications may be used to relieve symptoms.
Surgery: Surgery may be performed to release the tarsal tunnel.
This is a sprain of your big toe.
Causes: Turf toe usually happens if you bend the big toe upward excessively. This is most commonly seen in athletes.
Symptoms: Pain, limited range of motion, and swelling are symptoms of turf toe.
Conservative Treatments: Rest, ice therapy, compression, and elevation are often used to relieve swelling and pain while the toe heals.
Surgery: Surgery might be necessary to repair soft tissues and joints.