Heel and Arch Pain / Heel Spurs
Plantar Fasciitis (heel pain) is the most common injury that occurs at the heel and in the foot. It is caused by an over strain of the plantar fascia band, a ligament like structure that supports the arch of the foot. The symptoms of this condition are pain on the bottom of the heel, in chronic strain situations a heel spur may form. Commonly the heel is more painful in the morning and gradually wears off as the body starts moving.
Corns and Callus
A corn is a hard, circular-shaped thickened skin caused by pressure on a localized area of the foot. Corns are commonly seen on the tops of toes, between toes and on the ball of the foot area. They are painful when the foot is weight bearing.
Callus is dry, hard, thickened skin. It most commonly appears in the ball of the foot and around the heels due to excessive pressure and friction from repetitive rubbing or improper foot function. The shape of the foot can be the cause of this increased pressure.
Bunions are most commonly found in the first (big) toe. They are formed by an abnormal rotation of the bones in a toe, caused from an increase in pressure during walking. Clawed digits, skin lesions such as callus and osteoarthritis of the joint are common. Heredity and footwear can play a part in its appearance.
Fallen Arches / Flat Feet
Flat feet can be described as a loss of the arch in the foot. Flat feet can be due to two types of problems, one is the collapse of the mid foot resulting in the arch of the foot disappearing, or the other is a rotation of the ankle and foot inward (pronation) to create a disappearance of the arch upon weight bearing. The problems that commonly occur from flat foot are usually due to instability and increased strain on the foot while walking.
This is when the arch of the foot is higher than the normal. This can be caused from tight musculature/ a muscle imbalance or an inclined heel bone. The high arch can also be caused by a rotation of the ankle and foot outwards (supination). The problems that commonly occur from the high arched foot are poor shock absorption and increased stress on the foot.
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Hammer toes are bent toes that will not straighten. It can occur in any of the small digits but is most commonly seen in the second digit (toe next to the big toe). Callus and corn formation are common with this condition.
This is when the toe joints are bent and the toe curls inwards towards the foot. Problems can arise with this condition due to an increased pressure on the top and end of the toes. This condition occurs in the small toes and can be caused by ill fitting shoes or a muscle imbalance within the foot.
Thick nails are often discoloured and unhealthy looking. The most common cause of this condition is trauma to the toe nail bed, repetitive rubbing or infection of the nail.
A fungal infection of the nail often appears discoloured, misshapen, crumbly and brittle. This type of infection usually occurs when a nail is damaged and the feet are in moist environments.
Ingrown Toe Nails
An ingrown toe nail occurs when a piece of the nail becomes embedded into the skin around it (usually the big toe). The skin around becomes inflamed and often infected. The toe is usually sore when walking and wearing shoes.
Athletes foot is a fungal infection (Tinea Pedis) of the skin, it usually occurs between the toes. Fungus grows in dark, warm, moist areas of the skin; inside the shoes is an ideal setting. Symptoms that usually occur are pain, itching, redness, cracking blisters and scaling of the skin.
Dry Cracked Skin
When the skin becomes dry, cracks can form in high pressure areas. Callus forms more readily in dry areas and if severe enough cracks and fissures (deep cracks) may form as the skin is stressed. Fissures create the potential for infection and reoccurrence of cracks with a small amount of pressure.
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Plantar warts are caused by a virus called human papilloma virus that infects the sole of your feet. The virus enters the skin through a break in the skin and then develops into a wart. Warts can be single or in clusters and often have black dots on the surface. Plantar warts are usually painful because they are on the weight-bearing surfaces of the foot. They are more difficult to treat because they are embedded in the thick skin on the bottom of the foot. Once you are infected with a wart virus, it can take up to 8 months to develop into a wart.
Diabetics often have problems with their feet for two reasons, poor circulation and neuropathy. Decreased blood flow to the feet means there is less oxygen and nutrients to the skin. As a result, the skin can become dry and cracked, nails weaken and feet swell. Healing time can also be impaired and there is a greater risk of infection as a normal injury takes longer to heal and more serious problems can develop such as wounds and ulcers. Diabetics often experience numbness or loss of sensation in their feet. This leads to a person being unaware of pain or injury to their feet. Without any sensation, injuries are often left untreated. Damaged nerves lead to toe deformities, such as bunions and hammer toes, which can cause further damage to the foot.
Osteoarthritis is a disease of the joints in which there is damage to the bones and possibly the cartilage, synovial membrane, ligament and soft tissue. Arthritis in the feet can lead to joints being out of place and possibly dislocation. Flat feet and toe deformities are common as this condition worsens.
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Sports Injuries - Sprains
A sprain is a soft tissue injury to the ligaments that surround the joints. The most common area of the foot to sprain is the lateral ligaments of the ankle from a sharp, sudden inversion movement. After ligaments are injured, inflammation and swelling occurs, as well as possible bruising. The joint will be painful when weight bearing.
Sports Injuries - Stress Fractures
When bones are repeatedly loaded, the structure is weakened and a hairline crack in the bone can occur, this is called a stress fracture. Increased pounding puts more stress on a bone than it can handle. This type of injury presents with local tenderness on palpation and swelling of the soft tissue skin around it.
Sports Injuries - Achilles Tendonitis
Over use or sudden movement of the Achilles tendon can result in an inflammation of the tendon called tendonitis. This inflammation can result in degeneration or even a rupture in severe cases. The strength and position as well as the alignment of the ankle, leg and knees play a major role in this injury. Excessive pronation of the foot, and high arches are predisposing conditions for this injury. The symptoms of this condition are a burning/pricking pain at the back of the heel and pain as the heel lifts off the ground.
Sports Injuries - Shin Splints
A shin splint occurs when a muscle is irritated or tears at its insertion to the bone. Most commonly this occurs in the Tibialis Anterior muscle at its insertion to the Tibia (shin) bone. Muscle imbalance, muscle weakness and poor mechanics of the foot are causes of this injury. This condition manifests as a dull aching pain in the lower leg.
Sports Injuries - Turf Toe
Turf toe occurs when there is a jamming or forced hyperextension of the metatarsal phalangeal joint of the big toe. Trauma to the capsule of the big toe occurs, causing ligament sprain and sesamoid damage preventing proper toe off during gait. This injury is associated with artificial turf and shoes which are too soft and flexible. The joint feels tender, swollen and painful.
Pinched Nerve, Neuritis or Neuroma
Nerve irritation commonly occurs in the ball of the foot. A pain associated with the nerve can be caused from the nerve being pinched or crushed between two joints rubbing closely together. The nerve can be stretched in high pressure areas. Neuritis is an inflammation of the nerve. A neuroma is the formation of a lump on the nerve caused by chronic neuritis.
The skin is our most important barrier to bacterial infection. If the skin is broken by trauma causing a cut, scratch or a blister, a bacterium has the opportunity to invade the skin and grow. If a person has poor circulation, neuropathy or dry skin, there is an increased risk of a bacterial infection because the body’s ability to fight infection can be weakened and may allow a wound to develop.
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