Sprains, Strains, & Fractures
A foot or ankle sprain is a soft tissue injury. Most often, a sprain occurs when an injury pulls, stretches, or tears the ligaments that connect bone to bone. A fracture is actually a break in the bone.
Injuries are the most common causes of foot and ankle sprains and fractures. Many fractures and sprains occur during sports or can be caused by simply tripping or stumbling on uneven ground.
The most common symptoms of a sprained or fractured foot or ankle include: pain, swelling, bruising and difficulty walking.
If you suspect you have sprained, strained, or fractured your foot or ankle please make an appointment to see one of our doctors immediately. In the meantime, make sure to follow the acronym RICE:
Rest—Rest the affected area. Stay off the injured foot or ankle until it can be fully evaluated.
Ice—Apply ice to the affected area as soon as possible, and reapply it for 15–20 minutes every three or four hours for the first 48 hours after injury. Ice can decrease inflammation.
Compression—Wrap an elastic bandage (such as an Ace® wrap) around the affected foot or ankle. The wrapping should be snug, but not so tight as to cut off circulation.
Elevation—Elevate the affected extremity on a couple of pillows; ideally, your foot or ankle should be higher than your heart. Keeping your foot or ankle elevated also decreases swelling.
To prevent sprains and fractures make sure you are wearing the proper footwear for your activity. Athletic shoes should be replaced yearly. Running shoes should be replaced every 300 to 400 miles. Always warm up before your activity and avoid walking or running on uneven surfaces.
A bunion is a joint deformity on the joint at the base of the big toe (the metatarsophalangeal -MTP) joint. A bunion forms when the bone or tissue at the big toe joint moves out of place. The toe is forced to bend toward the others, causing an often painful lump of bone on the foot. Because this joint carries a lot of the body’s weight while walking, bunions can cause extreme pain if left untreated.
Bunions form when the normal balance of forces that is exerted on the joints and tendons of the foot becomes disrupted. They are usually caused by the way we walk and our inherited foot type or our shoes. Wearing shoes that are too tight or cause the toes to be squeezed together is also a common factor, one that explains the high prevalence of the disorder among women.
The symptoms of a bunion include the following:
- Development of a firm bump on the outside edge of the foot, at the base of the big toe
- Redness, swelling, or pain at or near the MTP joint
- Corns or other irritations caused by the overlap of the first and second toes
- Restricted or painful motion of the big toe
If a bunion is causing persistent pain, please make an appointment to see one of our experienced doctors. Bunions tend to get larger and more painful if left untreated, making non-surgical treatment less of an option.
Flat feet are relatively normal. They are a postural deformity in which the arches of the foot collapse, with the entire sole of the foot coming into complete or near-complete contact with the ground.
A common and usually painless condition, flat feet can occur when the arches don’t develop during childhood. In other cases, flat feet develop after an injury or from the simple wear-and-tear stresses of age.
Flat feet can sometimes contribute to problems in your ankles and knees because the condition can alter the alignment of your legs. If you aren’t having pain, no treatment is usually necessary for flat feet.
A hammer toe is a contracture, or bending, of the toe at the first joint of the digit, called the proximal interphalangeal joint. This bending causes the toe to appear like an upside-down V when looked at from the side. Any toe can be involved, but the condition usually affects the second through fifth toes, known as the lesser digits. Hammer toes are more common in females than males.
There are two different types:
Flexible Hammer Toes: These hammer toes are less serious because they can be diagnosed and treated while still in the developmental stage. They are called flexible hammer toes because they are still moveable at the joint.
Rigid Hammer Toes: This variety is more developed and more serious than the flexible condition. Rigid hammer toes can be seen in patients with severe arthritis, for example, or in patients who wait too long to seek professional treatment. The tendons in a rigid hammer toe have become tight, and the joint misaligned and immobile, making surgery the usual course of treatment.
A hammer toe develops because of an abnormal balance of the muscles in the toes. This abnormal balance causes increased pressures on the tendons and joints of the toe, leading to its contracture. Heredity and trauma can also lead to the formation of a hammer toe. Arthritis is another factor, because the balance around the toe in people with arthritis is disrupted. Wearing shoes that are too tight and cause the toes to squeeze can also cause a hammer toe to form.
The symptoms of a hammer toe include the following:
- Pain at the top of the bent toe upon pressure from footwear
- Formation of corns on the top of the joint
- Redness and swelling at the joint contracture
- Restricted or painful motion of the toe joint
- Pain in the ball of the foot at the base of the affected toe
Diabetic Foot Care
Diabetes is the inability to manufacture or properly use insulin, and it impairs the body’s ability to convert sugars, starches, and other foods into energy. The long-term effects of elevated blood sugar (hyperglycemia) can lead to serious damage to the eyes, heart, kidney, nerves, and feet.
Podiatrists play a key role in helping patients manage diabetes successfully and avoid foot-related complications.
Diabetes warning signs include the following:
- Skin color changes
- Swelling of the foot or ankle
- Numbness in the feet or toes
- Pain in the legs
- Open sores on the feet that are slow to heal
- Ingrown and fungal toenails
- Bleeding corns and calluses
- Dry cracks in the skin, especially around the heel
If you have diabetes, follow these foot care tips:
- Inspect feet daily. Check your feet and toes every day for cuts, bruises, sores, or changes to the toenails, such as thickening or discoloration.
- Wear thick, soft socks. Avoid socks with seams, which could rub and cause blisters or other skin injuries.
- Walking can keep weight down and improve circulation. Be sure to wear appropriate athletic shoes when exercising.
- Have new shoes properly measured and fitted. Foot size and shape may change over time. Shoes that fit properly are important to those with diabetes.
- Don’t go barefoot. Don’t go without shoes, even in your own home. The risk of cuts and infection is too great for those with diabetes.
- Never try to remove calluses, corns, or warts by yourself. Over-the-counter products can burn the skin and cause irreparable damage to the foot for people with diabetes.
Diabetic Foot Ulcer
A diabetic foot ulcer is an open sore or wound and it is commonly located on the bottom of the foot.
Anyone who has diabetes can develop a foot ulcer. Ulcers form due to a combination of factors, such as lack of feeling in the foot, poor circulation, foot deformities, irritation (such as friction or pressure), and trauma, as well as duration of diabetes.
Because many people who develop foot ulcers have lost the ability to feel pain, pain is not a common symptom. Many times, the first thing you may notice is some drainage on your socks. Redness and swelling may also be associated with the ulceration and, if it has progressed significantly, odor may be present.
Once an ulcer is noticed, call our office immediately to schedule an appointment. Foot ulcers in patients with diabetes should be treated to reduce the risk of infection and amputation, improve function and quality of life, and reduce health-care costs.
Heel pain can occur in the front, back, or bottom of the heel. It’s generally the result of faulty biomechanics (walking gait abnormalities) that place too much stress on the heel bone and the soft tissues that attach to it.
Common Causes of Heel Pain:
Heel Spurs: A bony growth on the underside of the heel bone. Heel spurs result from strain on the muscles and ligaments of the foot, by stretching of the long band of tissue that connects the heel and the ball of the foot, and by repeated tearing away of the lining or membrane that covers the heel bone.
Plantar Fasciitis: Both heel pain and heel spurs are frequently associated with plantar fasciitis, an inflammation of the band of fibrous connective tissue (fascia) running along the bottom (plantar surface) of the foot, from the heel to the ball of the foot.
The condition occurs when the plantar fascia is strained over time beyond its normal extension, causing the soft tissue fibers of the fascia to tear or stretch at points along its length; this leads to inflammation, pain, and possibly the growth of a bone spur where the plantar fascia attaches to the heel bone. The inflammation may be aggravated by shoes that lack appropriate support, especially in the arch area, and by the chronic irritation that sometimes accompanies an athletic lifestyle. Resting provides only temporary relief.
Corns and Calluses
Corns and calluses are areas of thickened skin that develop to protect that area from irritation. They occur when something rubs against the foot repeatedly or causes excess pressure against part of the foot. If the thickening of skin occurs on the bottom of the foot, it’s called a callus. If it occurs on the top of the foot or on a toe it’s called a corn.
Corns and calluses typically have a rough, dull appearance. They may be raised or rounded, and they can be hard to differentiate from warts. Corns and calluses may become painful if they get too thick.
Athlete’s foot is a skin disease caused by a fungus, usually occurring between the toes. The fungus most commonly attacks the feet because shoes create a warm, dark, and humid environment, which encourages fungus growth. The warmth and dampness of areas around swimming pools, showers, and locker rooms are also breeding grounds for fungi. Because the infection was common among athletes who used these facilities frequently, the term “athlete’s foot” became popular.
- Symptoms of athlete’s foot include: dry skin, itching and burning, scaling, inflammation, and blisters.
- The organisms that cause athlete’s feet can spread to the rest of your foot as well as other parts of the body. If proper foot hygiene does not clear up your athlete’s foot within two weeks, contact our office to schedule an appointment.