Common Symptoms

Click the links below for information about some common podiatric problems that we see at The Foot Institute on a daily basis. This method of diagnosis is not nearly as accurate as seeing us for an appointment. However, understanding and educating yourself on potential foot conditions can help you seek the right treatment.

Ankle Pain:
Achilles Tendonitis
Chronic Lateral Ankle Pain
Ankle Sprains

Achilles tendonitis, also sometimes called Achilles tendinitis, is a painful and often debilitating inflammation of the Achilles tendon (heel cord). The Achilles tendon is the largest and strongest tendon in the body. It is located in the back of the lower leg, attaches to the heel bone (calcaneus), and connects the leg muscles to the foot.

The Achilles tendon gives us the ability to rise up on our toes, facilitating the act of walking. Achilles tendonitis often begins with mild pain that worsens with continued activity, and can make walking almost impossible.

Causes of achilles tendonitis may include:

  • Activities that involve sudden stops and starts and repetitive jumping.
  • Overuse resulting from the natural lack of flexibility in the calf muscles.
  • Training on poor surfaces
  • Wearing improper footwear

Other symptoms include:

  • Difficulty walking
  • Fullness in your leg.
  • Mild or severe swelling.

Treatment normally involves:

  • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication.
  • Orthoses, which are devices to help support the muscle and relieve stress on the tendon such as a heel pad or shoe insert.
  • Rest and switching to another activity until condition improves

In severe cases, surgery is performed to remove the fibrous tissue and repair any tears.

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Chronic lateral ankle pain is recurring or chronic pain on the outside part of the ankle that often develops after repeated ankle sprains.

While ankle sprains are the most common cause of chronic lateral ankle pain, other causes may include:

  • Ankle fractures
  • Arthritis
  • Inflammation of the joint lining.
  • Torn or inflamed ligaments or tendons

Signs and symptoms include:

  • Ankle instability.
  • Difficulty walking on uneven ground or in high heels.
  • Pain, sometimes intense, on the outer side of the ankle.

Treatments for chronic lateral ankle pain involve:

  • Over the counter or prescription anti-inflammatory medications.
  • Physical therapy
  • Ankle braces or other supports.
  • Immobilization

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Ankle Sprains and are one of the most common injuries treated by podiatrists and orthopedists. Each year, approximately 2 million patients are treated for ankle sprains and strains.

Ankle injuries usually involve a sudden, unexpected, loss of balance that results in a sharp twist of the ankle. A strain occurs when a muscle or tendon overstretches. A sprain, which is more serious, occurs when strong connective tissue that connects one bone to another (ligaments) become overstretched. If not properly treated, ankle sprains could develop into long-term problems.

Treatment includes resting the ankle and applying ice to reduce swelling. Compressive bandages also may be used to immobilize and support the injury. More serious ankle sprains, particularly in competitive athletes, may require surgery to repair to tighten the ligaments.

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Burning Feet:
Neuromas
Peripheral Neuropathy

A neuroma is a benign growth of nerve tissue that can develop in various parts of your body. Morton's neuroma occurs in a nerve in your foot, often between your third and fourth toes. The condition involves a thickening of the tissue around one of the nerves leading to your toes. Morton's neuroma causes a sharp, burning pain in the ball of your foot. Your toes also may sting, burn or feel numb.

Common treatments for Morton's neuroma include changing footwear or using arch supports. Sometimes, corticosteroid injections or surgery may be necessary.

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Peripheral neuropathy, in its most common form, causes pain and numbness in your hands and feet. The pain typically is described as tingling or burning, while the loss of sensation often is compared to the feeling of wearing a thin stocking or glove.

Peripheral neuropathy can result from such problems as traumatic injuries, infections, metabolic problems and exposure to toxins. One of the most common causes of the disorder is diabetes.

In many cases, peripheral neuropathy symptoms improve with time - especially if it's caused by an underlying condition that can be resolved. Medications initially designed to treat other conditions, such as epilepsy and depression, are often used to reduce the painful symptoms of peripheral neuropathy.

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Cold Feet:
Poor Circulation

Peripheral vascular disease is the medical name given to a group of problems that causes poor circulation to the feet and legs. The most common cause of this is hardening of the arteries in which there is a gradual thickening and hardening of the walls of the arteries (the blood vessels that bring blood to the extremities from the heart).

Diabetes is the most common cause of peripheral vascular disease, but lack of physical activity, smoking, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol are also causes. Poor circulation can be treated by your doctor in a number of ways: controlling blood sugar level or addressing other underlying causes, medication to prevent blood clotting, and surgical correction.

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Discolored Toenails:
Toenail Fungus

Onychomycosis is a fungal infection of the toenails or fingernails. Onychomycosis causes fingernails or toenails to thicken, discolor, disfigure, and split. At first, onychomycosis appears to be only a cosmetic concern. Without treatment, however, the toenails can become so thick that they press against the inside of the shoes, causing pressure, irritation, and pain.

Half of all nail disorders are caused by onychomycosis, and it is the most common nail disease in adults. Toenails are much more likely to be infected than fingernails. The incidence of onychomycosis has been increasing and is related to diabetes, a suppressed immune system, and increasing age. Adults are 30 times more likely to have onychomycosis than children. In fact, only 2.6% of children younger than 18 years are reported to have onychomycosis, but as many as 90% of elderly people have onychomycosis.

Treatment for Nail Fungus May Include

  • Oral or topical medication
  • Trimming nails regularly
  • Surgical removal of nails

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Foot Lumps & Bumps:
Bunions
Hammertoes

A bunion is generally considered as an enlargement of the joint (a lump of bone) at the base and side of the big toe - (specifically, the first metatarsophalangeal joint). Bunions form when the toe moves out of place. As the big toe bends towards the others this lump becomes larger and the bunion can become painful - arthritis and stiffness can eventually develop. Hallux valgus or hallux abducto valgus (HAV) is the name used for the deviated position of the big toe and a bunion refers to the enlargement of the joint - most of the time the two go together and can just be referred to as 'bunions'.

Bunions cause the base of your big toe (Metatarsophalangeal Joint) to enlarge and protrude. The skin over it may be red and tender. Wearing any type of shoe may be painful. This joint flexes with every step you take. The bigger your bunion gets, the more it hurts to walk. Bursitis may set in. Your big toe may angle toward your second toe, or even move all the way under it. The skin on the bottom of your foot may become thicker and painful.

Pressure from your big toe may force your second toe out of alignment, sometimes overlapping your third toe. If your bunion gets too severe, it may be difficult to walk. Your pain may become chronic and you may develop arthritis.

Bunions are often treated with wider shoes, pads, splints, and orthoses. These all help to reduce the symptom of pain and slow down the progression of the bunion deformity but they don't "get rid" of the condition.

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Hammertoe is a deformity of the second, third or fourth toes. In this condition, the toe is bent at the middle joint, resembling a hammer. Left untreated, hammertoes can become inflexible and require surgery. People with hammertoe may have corns or calluses on the top of the middle joint of the toe or on the tip of the toe. They may also feel pain in their toes or feet and have difficulty finding comfortable shoes.

The most common cause of hammertoe is a muscle and tendon imbalance. This imbalance, which leads to a bending of the toe, results from mechanical (structural) changes in the foot that occur over time in some people. Improperly fitting shoes often times aggravate the condition.

Treatment for the condition typically involves proper shoes with roomy toe boxes, toe exercises to stretch and strengthen the muscles, and surgery in severe or longstanding cases.

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Foot Odor:
Sweaty Feet

Sweaty feet (hyperhydrosis) and smelly feet (bromohydrosis) are two very common, annoying conditions of the feet. While some cases of excessive smelling or sweating of the feet are systemic (throughout the whole body) in nature, such as anemia (low blood count) or hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid), these conditions are usually of a local cause.

The warm, moist environment inside shoes especially athletic shoes promotes bacterial growth on the feet. The interaction between your perspiration and the bacteria that thrive in your shoes and socks generates the odor. So any attempt to reduce foot odor has to address both your sweating and your footwear. The bacteria that are often found in foot odor are usually corynebacterium and micrococcus species. Fortunately, foot odor can usually be controlled with simple measures such as: keeping your feet clean and dry by applying baby powder or wearing clean cotton socks.

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Foot Rash:
Athlete's Foot

Athlete's foot is a very common skin infection of the foot caused by fungus. When the feet stay moist, warm, and irritated, this fungus can thrive and infect the skin. Fungal infections can occur anywhere on the body, including the scalp, trunk, extremities (arms and legs), hands, feet, nails, groin, and other areas.

The fungus that causes athlete's foot can be found on many locations, including floors in gyms, locker rooms swimming pools, nail salons, and in socks and clothing. The fungus can also be spread directly from person to person or by contact with these objects. Up to 70% of the population may have athlete's foot at some time during their lives.

Symptoms of athlete's feet include drying skin, itching scaling, inflammation, and blisters. Athlete's foot may spread to the soles of the feet and to the toenails, and can spread to other parts of the body, including the groin and underarms.

To Prevent Athlete's Foot:

  • Avoid walking barefoot. Use shower shoes.
  • Reduce perspiration by using talcum powder.
  • Wear light and airy shoes.
  • Wear socks that keep your feet dry, and change them frequently if you perspire heavily.

Take the Next Step If you have further questions or comments, don't just stop here. Take the next step and contact us.



Foot Swelling:
Poor Circulation

Peripheral vascular disease is the medical name given to a group of problems that causes poor circulation to the feet and legs. The most common cause of this is hardening of the arteries in which there is a gradual thickening and hardening of the walls of the arteries (the blood vessels that bring blood to the extremities from the heart).

Diabetes is the most common cause of peripheral vascular disease, but lack of physical activity, smoking, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol are also causes. Poor circulation can be treated by your doctor in a number of ways: controlling blood sugar level or addressing other underlying causes, medication to prevent blood clotting, and surgical correction.

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Foot Pain:
Heel Spurs/Plantar Fasciitis
Flat Feet

Plantar fasciitis (or heel pain) is commonly caused by poor foot mechanics that led to an inflammation on the bottom of the foot. Often there is pain in the heel on taking the first several steps in the morning with the pain lessening as walking continues.

Plantar fasciitis is caused by inflammation of the soft tissue that stretches from the base of the toes, across the arch of the foot, to the heel bone. A heel spur may or may not be present and is rarely the source of the pain. Also called "heel spur syndrome," the condition can usually be successfully treated with conservative measures such as use of anti-inflammatory medications and ice therapy, stretching exercises, orthotic devices (shoe inserts), and physical therapy. When these conservative measures are unsuccessful we offer the most advanced surgical treatments such as endoscopic fasciotomy and shockwave therapy.

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Flat feet are a common condition. In infants and toddlers, the longitudinal arch is not developed and flat feet are normal. Most feet are flexible and an arch appears when the person stands on his or her toes. The arch develops in childhood, and by adulthood most people have developed normal arches.

Most flat feet usually do not cause pain or other problems. Flat feet may be associated with pronation, a leaning inward of the ankle bones toward the center line. Shoes of children who pronate, when placed side by side, will lean toward each other (after they have been worn long enough for the foot position to remodel their shape).

Foot pain, ankle pain or lower leg pain, especially in children, may be a result of flat feet and should be evaluated.

Painful progressive flatfoot, otherwise known as Tibialis Posterior Tendonitis, is caused by inflammation of the tendon of the tibialis posterior. The tendon then becomes inflamed, stretched or suffers a partial or total tear. If left untreated, this condition may lead to severe disability and chronic pain. Some people are predisposed to this condition if they have flatfeet or an abnormal attachment of the tendon to the bones in the midfoot.

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications, ice, physical therapy, supportive taping and bracing, or orthotic devices are the common ways of treating painful progressive flatfoot. Contact your physician before taking any medication. In some cases, a surgical operation may need to be performed to repair the torn or damaged tendon and restore normal function. To prevent reinjury, orthotic devices may be recommended. In severe cases, surgery on the midfoot bones may be necessary to treat the associated flatfoot condition.

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Itchy Feet:
Athlete's Foot

Athlete's foot is a very common skin infection of the foot caused by fungus. When the feet stay moist, warm, and irritated, this fungus can thrive and infect the skin. Fungal infections can occur anywhere on the body, including the scalp, trunk, extremities (arms and legs), hands, feet, nails, groin, and other areas.

The fungus that causes athlete's foot can be found on many locations, including floors in gyms, locker rooms swimming pools, nail salons, and in socks and clothing. The fungus can also be spread directly from person to person or by contact with these objects. Up to 70% of the population may have athlete's foot at some time during their lives.

Symptoms of athlete's feet include drying skin, itching scaling, inflammation, and blisters. Athlete's foot may spread to the soles of the feet and to the toenails, and can spread to other parts of the body, including the groin and underarms.

To Prevent Athlete's Foot:

  • Avoid walking barefoot. Use shower shoes.
  • Reduce perspiration by using talcum powder.
  • Wear light and airy shoes.
  • Wear socks that keep your feet dry, and change them frequently if you perspire heavily.

Take the Next Step If you have further questions or comments, don't just stop here. Take the next step and contact us.



Numb Feet:
Peripheral Neuropathy

Peripheral neuropathy, in its most common form, causes pain and numbness in your hands and feet. The pain typically is described as tingling or burning, while the loss of sensation often is compared to the feeling of wearing a thin stocking or glove.

Peripheral neuropathy can result from such problems as traumatic injuries, infections, metabolic problems and exposure to toxins. One of the most common causes of the disorder is diabetes.

In many cases, peripheral neuropathy symptoms improve with time - especially if it's caused by an underlying condition that can be resolved. Medications initially designed to treat other conditions, such as epilepsy and depression, are often used to reduce the painful symptoms of peripheral neuropathy.

Take the Next Step If you have further questions or comments, don't just stop here. Take the next step and contact us.



Toenail Pain:
Ingrown Toenails

An ingrown toenail is a painful condition of the toe. Any toenail can become ingrown, but the condition is usually found in the big toe. It occurs when a sharp corner of the toenail digs into the skin at the end of or side of the toe.

Pain and inflammation at the spot where the nail digs into the skin occurs first. Later, the inflamed area can begin to grow extra tissue or drain yellowish fluid. Ingrown toenails are common in adults but uncommon in children and infants. Teenagers and young adults are most at risk. If left untreated, an ingrown toenail can progress to an infection or even an abscess that requires surgical treatment.

Treatment involves removing the offending nail border. This is a procedure that is performed in our office and usually takes about ten minutes. You will be able to leave our office most time with the shoes you wore in to the office. Aftercare includes daily foot soaking and topical antibiotic treatment for approximately one week. You will be able to resume most of your daily activities after the procedure.

Prevent Ingrown Toenails By

  • Trimming your toenails straight across with no rounded corners.
  • Ensuring that your shoes and socks are not too tight.
  • Keeping your feet clean at all times.

Take the Next Step If you have further questions or comments, don't just stop here. Take the next step and contact us.

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