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.
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.
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
There are many causes of heel pain, but the most common cause of heel pain is a diagnosis of Plantar Fasciitis. It is located on the bottom of the foot and commonly caused by inflammation of a ligament that inserts in the heel, called the plantar fascia. The plantar fascia is a very strong ligament that connects the forefoot and the heel together and is a strong force that helps with arch formation of the foot.
Symptoms of Plantar Fasciitis
Typical symptoms of plantar fasciitis include, but are not limited to, pain on the bottom of the heel, pain in the arch and on the medial ankle, pain that is worse after rest such as in the mornings, pain that slowly increases over time with no apparent injury or insult, mild swelling on the bottom of the heel, may be associated with some pain on the achilles.
How does Plantar Fasciitis Occur?
There are really several reasons this condition starts. Recent weight gain and increased activity may bring the symptoms. A sedentary person who suddenly becomes active or changing shoe gear from a supportive athletic shoe to a flip flop type sandal can precipitate the condition. When the arch flattens or collapses, the plantar fascia is stretched and micro tears in the fascia occur. This brings an acute inflammatory process which cause the pain and the symptoms.
How is Plantar Fasciitis Treated?
Multiple treatment modalities exist for this condition. Stretching the achilles tendon, icing the feet, and anti-inflammatory medications are always recommended. Cortisone injections provide relief in the majority of patients. Occasionally physical therapy is warranted in some cases. Surgery is the most invasive procedure and is rarely needed or recommended. Good OTC inserts and custom made orthotics are extremely effective at controlling control the foot during ambulation preventing and treating this condition.
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.
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.
What is an Ingrowing Nail?
An ingrowing nail is when a portion of a toenail on either side of the toe starts growing into the skin which causes significant pain and inflammation and often times infection. Nails that are flat are significantly less likely to have this issue as opposed to those nails which are very curved on the edges as it can be difficult to trim when they grow that way.
Causes of Ingrowing Nails
In my experience, as with other pedal issues, this condition has a strong genetic link. Most kids I treat have parents who have had nail problems in the past that have required treatment from a podiatrist. Although, cutting the nails toes too short and angled down can precipitate this problem. Wearing narrow or pointed shoes can apply pressure to the nail causing it to angle into the skin. Injuring the root of nail in this way will cause the nail to be permanently deformed. This problem can also arise from a traumatic incident such as stubbing the toe.
In mild cases where no infection is present, soaking in epsom salts can help. Applying a moisturizer under a bandaid to soften the skin to allow the nail to grow out can help. I have seen no benefit by cutting a V in the middle of the nail nor using cotton under the toenail. Please don't get one of those torture devices that expand the nail or lift the nail from the nail bed. They do not help and only cause pain and discomfort.
How are Ingrowing Nails Treated?
This is one of my most frequent procedures and probably my favorite. We start by getting the toe numb with local anesthetic and then remove the border of the painful nail. Once the nail is removed we treat the base of the partially removed nail with a medication that will precent the removed nail from growing back. The success rate is right around 95% statistically. The patient comes to me in pain and discomfort and has usually been dealing with this condition for months. They leave my clinic in no pain and they generally have a pain-free post-op period. On the first post-op visit, virtually every patient reports, “why did I wait so long?” If you have an ingrowing nail, don’t wait so long to come in. Get it treated early and you will save yourself many painful days and sleepless nights.