Our feet work hard every day and suffer damage on a regular basis from stress, inappropriate footwear and exercise. Pain most commonly occurs in the three parts of the foot.
The plantar fascia
Plantar fasciitis occurs when the connective tissue between the heel bone and the toes, known as the plantar fascia, is injured and becomes inflamed. It typically causes significant pain in the heel when standing after a long period of rest. Women suffer more commonly from this condition. Some other predisposing factors for plantar fasciitis include being overweight, having high arches and standing for long periods of time.
When experiencing this kind of pain, applying ice packs and resting often helps. Specialized arch supports can help some individuals as well.
The ball of the foot
Located on the bottom of the foot behind the toes, the ball typically experiences pain as a result of joint or nerve damage. Severe pain could require injections of corticosteroids to help relieve the discomfort. Other causes of pain in the ball of the foot can be related to the formation of benign, or noncancerous, growths developing in the area. At times, surgery may be necessary to fix the ailment.
The Achilles tendon connects the calf muscle to the heel bone and is the largest tendon in the human body. When it is overused during exercise, or when strain is put on the calf muscle, the tendon can rupture and suffer from inflammation called tendonitis. Treatment for such an injury typically involves rest and over the counter pain relief such as Ibuprofen. However, in more extreme situations, supportive bandages or surgery could be required.
In addition to pain, conditions of the foot can be debilitating and life-changing if not treated. There are numerous foot ailments that affect thousands of Americans every year. Some of the most common include:
Heel spurs occur when additional bone growth forms on the heel bone. It typically develops on the connective tissue that runs from the heel to the ball of the foot, known as the plantar fascia. If this tissue is over extended during exercise it can become inflamed and painful from pulling on the bone. Because of the stress that occurs from such as injury, extra bone begins to form over time. Treatment for this condition includes:
• Cold compresses
• Over-the-counter pain relievers such as Ibuprofen
• Injections of corticosteroids
In more serious cases, surgery might be needed to correct the heel spurs. To avoid suffering from this ailment, wear properly fitting shoes, stretch prior to exercise and seek medical attention as soon as an injury occurs.
Bunions are classified as tissue or bone that forms around a joint and sticks out from the foot. They are typically the result of the joint being stressed over time by wearing inappropriate shoes or from medical conditions such as arthritis. Women are more prone to bunions because of wearing pointed and confining shoes on a regular basis.
Treatment varies depending on the severity of the condition, but typically includes applying pads to the affected areas, wearing form-fitting shoes and surgery to rectify pain and discomfort.
When yellowish calluses develop on the top of the toes they are referred to as corns. They usually occur because of continuous rubbing of the toes against shoes or other toes and are typically very painful. Wearing shoes that don’t fit properly is the most common reason corns develop.
Treatment typically includes applying protective padding to the area, wearing shoes that are a size larger to prevent further rubbing and trimming the layers of dead skin off of the toe.
A hammertoe is a protrusion of bone from the middle joint of the affected toe. It is typically a result of excessive pressure to the toe from tight-fitting shoes and is often uncomfortable. In addition, hammertoes are more susceptible to developing corns because the protruding bone rubs against the inside of the shoes.
Treatment involves padding the affected toes to cover the protrusion, surgical removal of the bone and wearing shoes that accommodate the deformity.
If any of these foot ailments occur, it is important to seek the assistance of a licensed doctor of podiatric medicine. Allowing any of these conditions to go untreated can affect one’s ability to walk and can cause damage to other parts of the body.
Learn more about foot problems at a seminar at Northern Nevada Medical Center from 6 to 7 p.m. on July 27 at the Sparks Medical Office Building located at 2385 E. Prater Way. Dinner will be served. To RSVP, call 356-6662.
Dr. Joseph Knedgen is a doctor of podiatric medicine affiliated with Sierra Podiatry Associates. Sierra Podiatry Associates offers podiatric care by trained professionals utilizing state of the art equipment. To schedule an appointment, call 826-9559.