Common Foot and Ankle Conditions page 2
Alaska Foot & Ankle Specialists (AFAS) is an entire clinic dedicated exclusively to diseases and conditions of the foot and ankle. Whatever your condition, the providers at AFAS have the training and experience to provide a solution.
Below is an interactive list of 15 additional foot and ankle conditionss. Click on each title to learn more:
Chronic ankle instability is a condition characterized by a recurring giving way of the outer (lateral) side of the ankle. This condition often develops after repeated ankle sprains. Usually, the giving way occurs while walking or doing other activities, but it can also happen when standing. Many athletes, as well as others, suffer from chronic ankle instability.
People with chronic ankle instability often complain of:
• A repeated turning of the ankle, especially on uneven surfaces or when participating in sports
• Persistent (chronic) discomfort and swelling
• Pain or tenderness
• The ankle feeling wobbly or unstable
Clubfoot (congenital talipes equinovarus) is a deformity that is present at birth in about one of every 1,000 children. It occurs in males more often than females and can affect one or both feet.
The feet of an infant with clubfoot point down and inward. It is not painful, but it must be corrected to avoid a lifetime of disability.
Parents can be assured that, in most cases, clubfoot can be effectively treated if it is undertaken as early as possible. Casting of the legs and feet is usually successful, but in some cases, surgery may be required.
Custom orthotics are medical devices prescribed by a foot-and-ankle doctor. These shoe inserts, which support and align the foot and lower extremities, are formed by making a plaster mold of the foot.
Additional valuable information:
• Flat feet
• Heel pain
The blood supply of the leg is transported by arteries and veins. The arteries carry blood from the heart to the limbs; veins carry blood back to the heart. The leg contains superficial veins, which are close to the surface, and deep veins, which lie much deeper in the leg. Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) is a condition in which a blood clot (a blockage) forms in a deep vein. While these clots most commonly occur in the veins of the leg (the calf or thigh), they can also develop in other parts of the body.
DVT can be very dangerous and is considered a medical emergency. If the clot (also known as a thrombus) breaks loose and travels through the bloodstream, it can lodge in the lung. This blockage in the lung, called a “pulmonary embolism,” can make it difficult to breathe and may even cause death. Blood clots in the thigh are more likely to cause a pulmonary embolism than those in the calf.
Some of the common symptoms of deep vein thrombosis are:
• Swelling in one leg
• Pain in one leg
Diabetes often leads to peripheral neuropathy, a condition in which nerve function deteriorates in the body’s extremities, causing gradual loss of feeling in the legs and feet.
You may experience numbness, tingling in the extremities, shooting pains, or a burning sensation. An inability to sense pain in the affected areas is very problematic because without it, patients often do not seek treatment for cuts, bruises, burns, or blisters that heal poorly and will result in minor skin problems or worst, become infected.
“Fallen arches” is a term commonly used to describe a flatfoot condition that develops during adulthood. This should not be confused with other causes of flatfoot that may develop during childhood or adolescence.
Most cases of fallen arches develop when the main arch-supporting tendon (the posterior tibial tendon) becomes weakened or injured, causing the arch to gradually become lower. With time, the shape of the foot changes and secondary symptoms start to appear.
Common problems associated with fallen arches include:
• Plantar fasciitis
• Increased fatigue
• Arthritis of the foot and ankle.
Flat feet, or fallen arches, is a condition in which little or no arch is formed at the bottom of the foot, thus causing the feet to rest flat on the ground. Flat feet can be an inherited condition or an acquired condition that develops over time.
A flat foot (or feet) can limit activities for some people, while others experience no difficulties. If left untreated, a flat foot can lead to excessive pronation of the feet, which can cause bunions, heel pain, hammertoes, shin splints, knee, and hip and back pain.
Frostbite occurs when a body part is exposed to extreme cold. If conditions are cold enough for the water within the tissues to freeze and form ice crystals, cell death can occur. The feet, hands, ears and nose are particularly prone to frostbite due to their location away from the body’s core.
Mild exposure to cold typically produces pain and irritation of the skin. Greater exposure may produce burning and numbness as well as blistering and reversible damage to the outer skin layers. Eventually, there will be complete loss of sensation and permanent damage to all layers of the skin, arteries, muscles and tendons.
Frostbite can be prevented by limiting exposure and keeping the feet as warm and dry as possible. If, however, frostbite is suspected, the feet should be rapidly rewarmed by immersion in warm water (approximately 100 degrees Farenheit). Avoid vigorous rubbing/massaging and dry heat (such as from a hair dryer), as burns may result if numbness is present.
To avoid infection, blisters or damaged skin should be treated with antibiotic cream and loose bandages, and medical attention should be sought as soon as possible.
Gangrene occurs when there is a lack of blood supply to tissue, depriving it of oxygen, thereby causing death and decay of the tissue. The two types of gangrene are wet (caused by bacterial infection) and dry (no infection). The most common causes of gangrene are diabetes, arteriosclerosis, tobacco abuse, burns and frostbite.
Treatment for gangrene includes surgical removal of the dead tissue and use of antibiotics when infection is present.
Looking for more information?
• Peripheral Arterial Disease
Hammertoe conditions occur when a normal foot becomes flat and the flexor muscles overpower the smaller muscles, causing the outer two joints of the toe to bend downward. In this unnatural position, the inside of the shoe rubs against the bent toe joints, gradually causing calluses to form on the tops of the toes.
Early treatment is important when hammertoe first begins to develop so toes don’t become rigid.
Heel pain, or plantar fasciitis, can occur with excessive exercise, occupations that require you to spend a lot of time on your feet, inadequate warm-up before physical activity or poorly fitted shoes. The two structures primarily associated with heel pain are the plantar fascia (a band of connective tissue along the bottom of the foot that supports the arch) and the flexor digitorum brevis muscle. When these muscles experience prolonged stretching, bone spurs and tears damage are created.
An ingrown toenail occurs when the skin on the side of a toenail grows over the edge of the nail, or when the nail grows into the skin.
Ingrown toenails can develop for many reasons. Here are some examples:
• Toenails that are too large
• Toes that curl from arthritis
• Stubbing a toe or having one stepped on
• Frequent running
• Trimming nails incorrectly
• Excessively tight stockings
• Shoes with narrow toe boxes
Bedridden patients commonly develop ingrown toenails if the bed sheets are tucked-in tightly.
The foot contains 26 bones and more than 30 joints. Many people experience pain involving one or more of these joints. The pain may be accompanied by swelling, tenderness, stiffness, redness, bruising and/or increased warmth over the affected joints.
Joint pain may be caused by trauma, infection, inflammation, arthritis, bursitis, gout or structural foot problems. This type of foot pain is initially treated with rest, elevation and limitation of walking/weight-bearing. Use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen, and ice can help reduce local inflammation and pain.
Custom orthotics may also be prescribed to support the foot and reduce pain. A foot-and-ankle surgeon at AFAS can best determine the cause of joint pain and recommend the appropriate treatment.
Need more information?
• Capsulitis of the Second Toe
• Osteoarthritis of the Foot and Ankle
The Lisfranc joint is the point at which the metatarsal bones (long bones that lead up to the toes) and the tarsal bones (bones in the arch) connect. The Lisfranc ligament is a tough band of tissue that joins two of these bones. It is important for maintaining proper alignment and strength of the joint.
Injuries to the Lisfranc joint most commonly occur in victims of automobile accidents, military personnel, runners, horseback riders, football players and participants of other contact sports. But it can be caused by something as simple as missing a step on a staircase.
Lisfranc injuries occur as a result of direct or indirect forces to the foot. A direct force often involves something heavy falling on the foot. Indirect force commonly involves twisting the foot.
There are three types of Lisfranc injuries, which sometimes occur together:
• Sprains. The Lisfranc ligament and other ligaments on the bottom of the midfoot are stronger than those on the top of the midfoot. Therefore, when they are weakened through a sprain (a stretching of the ligament), patients experience instability of the joint in the middle of the foot.
• Fractures. A break in a bone in the Lisfranc joint can be either an avulsion fracture (a small piece of bone is pulled off) or a break through the bone or bones of the midfoot.
• Dislocations. The bones of the Lisfranc joint may be forced from their normal positions.
Melanoma is a cancer that begins in the cells of the skin that produce pigmentation (coloration). It is also called malignant melanoma because it spreads to other areas of the body as it grows beneath the surface of the skin. Unlike many other types of cancer, melanoma strikes people of all age groups, even the young.
Melanoma that occurs in the foot or ankle often goes unnoticed during its earliest stage, when it would be more easily treated. By the time melanoma of the foot or ankle is diagnosed, it frequently has progressed to an advanced stage, accounting for a higher mortality rate. This makes it extremely important to follow prevention and early detection measures involving the feet as well as other parts of the body.
Most cases of melanoma are caused by too much exposure to ultraviolet (UV) rays from the sun or tanning beds. This exposure can include intense UV radiation obtained during short periods or lower amounts of radiation obtained over longer periods.
Anyone can get melanoma, but some factors put a person at greater risk for developing this type of cancer. These include:
• Fair skin; skin that freckles; blond or red hair
• Blistering sunburns before the age of 18
• Numerous moles, especially if they appeared at a young age