Foot/Ankle Problems - WREX.com – Rockford’s News Leader

Mary C. White, DPM Mary C. White, DPM Rockford Foot Solutions

Foot/Ankle Problems

Is it painful to exercise because you're suffering from heel or ankle pain? Are you finding that it's becoming increasingly harder to perform everyday tasks? Here are some of the common diseases and conditions. We offer a variety of treatments to help, depending on the type, cause, and severity of your pain..."

Athlete's Foot
Fungal Nails
Ingrown Toenail
Warts
Calluses/Corns
Foot Infection
Bunion
Hammertoe
Mallet Toe
Ankle Sprain
Fracture
Osteoarthritis

Rheumatoid Arthritis
Gout
Scleroderma
Flat Feet
High Arch Feet
Achilles Tendonitis
Heel Pain
General Foot Fatigue
Morton's Neuroma
Diabetic Foot Ulcer
Diabetic Neuropathy
Charcot Foot

Athlete's Foot, TineaPedis

Fungus is a living organism that lives in a warm, dark, and wet environment such as your feet. They reproduce in our feet or nails, and produce discoloration, odors, and itching. This condition can be treated with various kinds of medicine such as topical and oral therapies.

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Onychomycosis, Paronychia

Fungal nails are typically more difficult to treat than athlete's foot because nail fungus resides under the nail and the skin fold where nails grow. This is why oral therapy is more effective than topical treatment. It is recommended to have a simple blood test performed for liver function profile before taking oral medication. Sometimes nails become ingrown and cause a severe pain with infection. This condition could be treated via a minor surgical procedure to remove the offending nail borders permanently.

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Plantar Wart, Verruca

Warts are caused by Human Papilloma Virus, and can be contagious. Environments such as bath tubs, swimming pools, locker rooms can all contribute to viral infections of the feet as more virus is prevalent in these scenarios. Once infected, the virus brings our micro blood vessels to feed themselves. They also make superficial nerve endings very painful when pinched. Many effective treatment options are available such as acid combination, liquid nitrogen freezing, surgical excision with laser, etc.

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Calluses, Corn

Calluses and corns cause lots of pain in the shoes. They usually appear due to improper balance or weight distribution throughout the feet. Hereditary factors also play a role, especially painful corn between toes, or calluses that are caused by malfunction of sweat glands. Patients need to visit a foot specialist to determine the best treatment option.

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Foot Infection, Soft Tissue Masses

Unknown soft tissue masses arise from many different pathologies. If an unusual mass is noticed, make sure to have it examined by a podiatrist. The mass may have originated from bone, tendon, ligament, or skin.

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Bunion

Bunions are generally painful and are a progressive condition in which the big toe joint is growing slowly outwards and produces a big painful bump. This can occur at any age group and is more prevalent in women. Hereditary factors, shoegear, and sports activities could exacerbate the condition. If shoe modification fails to relieve the pain, surgical correction is recommended after a thorough exam including x-rays and biomechanical studies.

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Hammertoe

Hammertoes are caused by biomechanical deformities. Some muscles of the feet are overpowering or weakening than others and this imbalance causes toes to be bent tightly. This deformity causes lots of pain and corns on the top of the toes. Typically, simple surgical correction could relieve the hammertoe deformity and associated pain if conservative treatment fails.

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Mallet Toe

Refer to "Hammertoes" above.

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Ankle Sprain

Ankle sprains are one of the most common sports injuries. The ankle joint is supported by various ligamentous structures. When the ankle is sprained, one or more of these ligaments are typically stretched or torn which causes inflammation and pain. First aid for ankle sprain includes: R(Rest), I(Ice), C(Compression), and E(Elevation). However, ankle fractures often occur with similar mechanisms of injuries. Therefore, it is advised to see a podiatrist to rule out a fracture with further examination.

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Fracture,dislocation

When stress to the bone exceeds the bone's capacity, fractures occur. Depending on the severity of the fracure, it could be an emergent situation, especially when the neurovascular structures are compromised. Therefore, it is very important to seek a podiatrist immediately when injuries occur. Treatment includes: Casting and/or possible surgical intervention in cases of severe displacement of fracture fragments.

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Osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis is the most common type of arthritis, especially among older people. Sometimes it is called degenerative joint disease or osteoarthrosis. Osteoarthritis is a joint disease that mostly affects the cartilage (KAR-til-uj). Cartilage is the slippery tissue that covers the ends of bones in a joint. Healthy cartilage allows bones to glide over one another. It also absorbs energy from the shock of physical movement. In osteoarthritis, the surface layer of cartilage breaks down and wears away. This allows bones under the cartilage to rub together, causing pain, swelling, and loss of motion of the joint. Over time, the joint may lose its normal shape. Also, bone spurs--small growths called osteophytes--may grow on the edges of the joint.

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Rheumatoid Arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis is an inflammatory disease that causes pain, swelling, stiffness, and loss of function in the joints. It has several special features that make it different from other kinds of arthritis. For example, rheumatoid arthritis generally occurs in a symmetrical pattern, meaning that if one knee or hand is involved, the other one also is. The disease often affects the wrist joints and the finger joints closest to the hand. It can also affect other parts of the body besides the joints. In addition, people with rheumatoid arthritis may have fatigue, occasional fevers, and a general sense of not feeling well. Rheumatoid arthritis affects people differently. For some people, it lasts only a few months or a year or two and goes away without causing any noticeable damage. Other people have mild or moderate forms of the disease, with periods of worsening symptoms, called flares, and periods in which they feel better, called remissions. Still others have a severe form of the disease that is active most of the time, lasts for many years or a lifetime, and leads to serious joint damage and disability.

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Gout

Gout is an inflammatory condition from excessive accumulation of uric acid in your joints. Typically it happens to male patients in their 30's or elderly female patients. When you have excruciating pain at your big toe joint (most common area for gout) with a sudden onset, see a podiatrist for further examination and treatment.

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Scleroderma

Derived from the Greek words "sklerosis," meaning hardness, and "derma," meaning skin, scleroderma literally means hard skin. Though it is often referred to as if it were a single disease, scleroderma is really a symptom of a group of diseases that involve the abnormal growth of connective tissue, which supports the skin and internal organs. It is sometimes used, therefore, as an umbrella term for these disorders. In some forms of scleroderma, hard, tight skin is the extent of this abnormal process. In other forms, however, the problem goes much deeper, affecting blood vessels and internal organs, such as the heart, lungs, and kidneys. Scleroderma is called both a rheumatic disease and a connective tissue disease. The term rheumatic disease refers to a group of conditions characterized by inflammation and/or pain in the muscles, joints, or fibrous tissue. A connective tissue disease is one that affects the major substances in the skin, tendons, and bones.

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Flat feet

If you have flat feet feet with low arches, walking can cause painful pressure. Even flat feet that don't hurt can be the cause of future problems, such as bunions, hammertoes, heel and arch pain, pain and fatigue in your feet and legs, and even pain in your lower back. Mild to moderate flat feet can be treated by using custom-made insoles(orthoses). These devices help controlling your feet function better and minimize stress forces that could cause foot deformity and pain.

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Cavus Feet (High arches)

Excessive high arches can also cause problems, including achy feet, heel and arch pain, and calluses due to poor-fitting shoes. Pain caused by flat feet or high arches can often be relieved by the use of orthotic devices. If you experience persistent pain in your feet and arches, see a podiatrist.

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Achilles Tendonitis/Rupture

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Heel Pain, Plantar Fasciitis

The most common cause of heel pain comes from moving your foot incorrectly while walking. This can place too much stress on the heel bone and the soft tissue around it. This often develops a condition, plantar fasciitis. This is an inflammation of the plantar fascia, the band of connective tissue that runs from the heel to the ball of the foot. Sometimes long term plantar fasciitis results in heel spurs which is a bony growth on the bottom side of the heel bone. When you have heel pain, especially in the morning getting out of the bed, you should see a podiatrist for medical treatment to reduce the pain.

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General Foot Fatigue

As described above, when your feet have excessively high or low arches or have other feet deformities, you experience discomfort and fatigue in your feet/ankles. A wide variety of insoles and custom-made orthoses are available. Especially, custom-made orthoses are intended to adjust an abnormal or irregular walking pattern by altering the angles at which the foot strikes the ground. Orthotic devices are constructed from a mold of your foot. Rigid orthoses are usually made of a firm material like plastic and are primarily designed to control function. Soft orthoses are constructed of flexible materials that help absorb shock, improve balance and take pressure off tender spots.

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Morton's Neuroma

Neuromas are enlarged, benign growths of nerves, most commonly between the third and fourth toes. They are caused by bones and other tissue rubbing against and irritating the nerves, whose anatomy at that location is unusual. Abnormal bone structure or pressure from ill-fitting shoes also can create the condition, which can result in pain, burning, tingling, or numbness between the toes and in the ball of the foot. Conservative treatment can include orthotic devices and/or cortisone injections, but surgical removal of the growth is sometimes necessary.

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Diabetic Foot Ulceration

Diabetic foot ulcer is a condition of which an open sore or wound that commonly occurs on the bottom of the foot. About 15% of diabetic patients of the U.S. develop foot ulcers. Also diabetes is the leading cause of non-traumatic lower extremity amputations in the United States, and approximately 20 percent of patients with diabetes who develop a foot ulcer have an amputation. Peripheral neuropathy and circulatory complications of diabetes are the main causes of this condition. This ulcerations can be prevented by careful selection of shoegear and regular visit to a podiatrist.

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Diabetic Neuropathy

Diabetic and peripheral neuropathy can cause altered or complete loss of sensation in the foot and /or leg. Similar to the feeling of a "fat lip" after a dentist's anesthetic injection, the diabetic with advanced neuropathy loses all sharp-dull discrimination. Any cuts or trauma to the foot can go completely unnoticed for days or weeks in a patient with neuropathy. It's not uncommon to have a patient with neuropathy tell you that the ulcer "just appeared" when, in fact, the ulcer has been present for quite some time. There is no known cure for neuropathy, but strict glucose control has been shown to slow the progression of the neuropathy.

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Charcot's Foot

Charcot foot deformity occurs as a result of decreased sensation. People with "normal" feeling in their feet automatically determine when too much pressure is being placed on an area of the foot. Once identified, our bodies instinctively shift position to relieve this stress. A patient with advanced neuropathy loses this important mechanism. As a result, tissue ischemia and necrosis may occur leading to plantar ulcerations. Microfractures in the bones of the foot go unnoticed and untreated, resulting in disfigurement, chronic swelling and additional bony prominences.

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