There are 52 bones in your feet and ankles, which means that feet contain about 25 percent of the bones in our bodies. Our feet also contain about 20-25 percent of the total joints in our body; therefore, it’s not too surprising to find out that your feet and ankles are unfortunately more likely to deal with tendon and joint pain at some point, whether through injury or certain conditions such as arthritis. When pain and other foot problems arise it’s important that you have a podiatrist you can turn to.
Common Causes of Tendon and Joint Pain in the Feet
Tendons are soft tissues that connect the muscles to the bones. Everything from overuse and foot injuries to structural imbalances can lead to pain. Common causes of tendon and joint pain include:
- Tendonitis: inflammation of the tendon caused by injury or overuse
- Sprains and strains: a common but usually minor foot and ankle injury, typically caused by physical activity
- Arthritis: a chronic, progressive condition that leads to joint pain, stiffness, and damage (osteoarthritis is the most common type of arthritis to affect feet and ankles)
- Obesity: being overweight or obese can also put excessive pressure on the joints and tendons of your feet and ankles, leading to pain and other problems
Treating Tendon and Joint Pain
Visiting a podiatrist is the best choice you can make if you are dealing with severe, persistent, or new foot and ankle pain. Since some conditions can get worse without proper care and rest it’s important to find out what’s causing your pain so you know how to effectively treat it.
If you are dealing with pain caused by a sports injury or strain it’s a good idea to see a medical professional so you know the extent of the injury. More severe sprains may require protective boots or crutches to reduce the amount of weight being placed on the injured ankle or foot.
Arthritis is also a surprisingly common cause of foot pain. If you notice joint pain and stiffness that affects functionality, range of motion and mobility in your feet then you could be dealing with arthritis. Since arthritis can get worse without treatment, it is important that you work with your pediatrician and a team of medical professionals to determine the best medications and course of action to help manage your foot pain and to prevent permanent joint damage.
If you are experiencing foot pain it’s important to see a qualified medical professional that can determine the best way to treat your symptoms. Call your podiatrist today for a comprehensive evaluation.
Did you know that the metatarsals, or bones in the foot, are the most commonly broken bones in the human body? These long bones run the length of the foot and a fractured metatarsal means that there is a break in at least one of these five bones (the fifth metatarsal is the most commonly fractured metatarsal bone). If you suspect that you’ve broken a bone in your foot it’s important that you see a podiatrist right away.
Broken metatarsals most commonly occur as a result of a sports injury; however, this fracture can also occur over time due to overuse and wear (this is commonly known as a stress fracture). Dropping a heavy item on the foot or experiencing a bad fall can also cause broken metatarsals. Signs and symptoms of a broken toe caused by trauma to the foot include:
- Hearing a snapping or popping sound at the moment of injury
- Severe and sudden pain in the toe immediately after impact or trauma
- Bruising or swelling of the toe (this may not appear until the day after the injury)
- Changes in the alignment or appearance of your toe
Symptoms of a stress fracture will be a bit different from traumatic fractures. Since stress fractures occur over time as a result of overuse you may start to notice foot pain with your routine activities or pain that goes away with rest but is exacerbated by physical activity. A metatarsal that has sustained a stress fracture may also be tender to the touch.
Some people assume that if they can walk on their foot then they must not be dealing with a broken metatarsal, but this is simply not true. This is why it’s always best to play it safe and to schedule an immediate evaluation with a foot and ankle specialist if you have experienced a traumatic foot injury that you suspect has led to one or more broken metatarsals. Not treating the broken bone could lead to certain deformities, which can greatly impact mobility. You may also experience chronic pain or be at an increased risk for arthritis.
Treating Broken Metatarsals
Common ways to treat a traumatic fracture include rest, splinting, or tapping toe affected toe, custom-made shoe inserts and wearing rigid footwear such as a special boot or shoe that provides the foot with protection, support, and cushioning.
If the break is severe enough your podiatrist may recommend surgery, but surgery is rarely necessary for treating broken toes. Those with stress fractures will want to avoid any activity that causes repetitive stress on the foot, to prevent the stress fracture from getting worse.
If you are experiencing symptoms of a broken bone after a fall, accident or injury then it’s time to schedule an immediate appointment with a podiatrist. The sooner you seek treatment the sooner you can begin your road to recovery.
Heel pain is a common foot problem that podiatrists often treat. Knowing the cause of your pain is important in determining the most effective treatment method. Even if the pain seems minor, it’s amazing how much it can affect your whole body, making it difficult to get out of bed let alone go on your regular run. If you are struggling with heel pain you might be dealing with a condition known as plantar fasciitis.
What is plantar fasciitis?
The source of your pain may originate in the plantar fascia, a tough band of connective tissue that connects your toes to your feet. If the fascia becomes inflamed, you may feel pain in your heel. Of course, everything from wearing high heels to long runs can actually irritate and cause inflammation within the plantar fascia. When this happens this is known as plantar fasciitis. This condition is usually the result of overuse and repeated stress rather than an injury.
What are the symptoms of plantar fasciitis?
Plantar fasciitis causes heel pain that originates at the bottom of the heel below the heel bone. The pain may spread to the arches of the feet and may also be accompanied by stiffness. These symptoms are often exacerbated first thing in the morning or after long bouts of sitting or standing. Sometimes, light activity and exercise can momentarily lessen the pain.
How is plantar fasciitis treated?
If you know that you have plantar fasciitis (perhaps you’ve had it before) then you know it’s important to rest, avoid physical activity, and take over-the-counter pain relievers. Of course, if you’ve never experienced heel pain before it’s important to see a podiatrist to find out whether it’s plantar fasciitis or another condition such as heel spurs or Achilles tendonitis. A thorough evaluation from a medical professional is often necessary, especially if this is the first time dealing with heel pain.
Your podiatrist can also show you stretching and strengthening exercises that you can perform to help stretch the plantar fascia to reduce pain and discomfort. Some patients also choose to wear a night splint to reduce morning stiffness and arch pain.
If your symptoms aren’t being alleviated through conservative treatment methods or if you are experiencing chronic heel pain your podiatrist may recommend surgery.
If you are dealing with stubborn and painful heels turn to a podiatrist for a consultation.
Peripheral artery disease (PAD) is a condition that often affects blood flow to the legs due to narrowing of the arteries. PAD is caused by atherosclerosis, a serious condition in which fat deposits known as plaques build up in the arteries and eventually restrict or block blood flow.
If you have PAD you will most likely experience painful cramping, weakness or numbness in the legs, particularly during movement. You may also notice that the leg or foot is colder than the rest of your body. Sometimes persistent sores can develop that won’t heal. Your legs may also change color or the skin may appear shiny. While the pain will often go away at rest, if PAD is left untreated you may notice these symptoms even at rest. Sometimes symptoms can even be bad enough to affect your sleep.
While these symptoms can also be indicative of other conditions you should not ignore your symptoms, as undiagnosed PAD can lead to heart attack or stroke. This is why it’s important to see your podiatrist if you notice leg or foot numbness, weakness, tingling or pain.
You may be at an increased risk for peripheral artery disease if you:
- Are obese
- Have high cholesterol
- Have high blood pressure
- Have diabetes
- Are over age 65
- Have a family history of peripheral artery disease or stroke
Preventing Peripheral Artery Disease
Your podiatrist’s goal is to reduce your risk for peripheral artery disease, especially if you are at an increased risk. This involves implementing a variety of lifestyle changes. Some ways to prevent PAD include:
- Getting your diabetes under control
- Lowering your cholesterol
- Exercising regularly several times a week
- Quitting smoking
- Eating a healthy balanced diet and avoiding junk foods
- Losing weight or maintaining a healthy weight
Treating Peripheral Artery Disease
If you do end up developing PAD a podiatrist can be an instrumental part of your medical team to help you manage your symptoms and prevent complications. PAD treatments are designed to reduce symptoms such as leg pain while also stopping the buildup of fat deposits within the arteries.
Again, modifying your lifestyle can greatly improve your condition. The same lifestyle changes that prevent PAD can also treat PAD. Of course, lifestyle modifications alone won’t be enough to prevent atherosclerosis from progressing. Therefore, your podiatrist may also prescribe certain medications including cholesterol and blood pressure medications, diabetes medication, and medication that prevents blood clots. Sometimes surgery or angioplasty is recommended if there is a blockage within the arteries.
If you are experiencing any of the symptoms of PAD it’s important that you turn to a podiatrist right away for an evaluation.
Oddly enough, there are a lot of Old Wives Tales and folk remedies surrounding warts. Perhaps you’ve even heard of some one them; however, if you end up dealing with one or clusters of these hard, skin-colored bumps you may be wondering how you got them and how to treat them. If you develop warts, particularly on the soles of your feet, this is something that your podiatrist can help you treat.
What are plantar warts?
All warts are the result of a virus that invades the skin through cuts or tiny open wounds. Warts, especially on the feet, can be mistaken for a corn or callus; however, unlike corns or calluses that often go away in a couple of weeks, it can take years for a wart to go away. During this time, warts can also spread to other areas of the body including the hands and face.
How do I know that I have plantar warts?
If you’ve never had a wart before you may not be able to distinguish this growth from other common foot problems. This is where a podiatrist can help. A foot doctor can diagnose warts through a simple physical exam. Plantar warts can cause pain, particularly when standing or walking. Patients who have diabetes or circulation problems in their feet should seek immediate medical care if they develop warts or experience any changes in their feet.
How are plantar warts treated?
While warts can go away on their own this can usually take years for the body to fight off the viral infection. Since plantar warts can be uncomfortable or even painful many people turn to a podiatrist to treat warts. The type of treatment that your foot doctor will recommend will depend on the size, amount and location of the wart or warts. Common wart treatments include:
- Medication: a special acid-based medication (e.g. salicylic acid) is applied to the skin where the acid will break down the wart. Several applications may be required over the course of several weeks in order to get rid of the wart.
- Freezing: sometimes warts can be frozen off through a procedure known as cryotherapy
- Curettage: this is the surgical removal of a wart using a special scalpel (local anesthesia is applied to the area to numb it before treatment)
- Laser: laser treatment can also be used to breakdown and destroy the wart
It’s important to protect your feet from potential reinfection. If you are prone to developing plantar warts then talk with your podiatrist about measures you can take to keep your feet healthy and free from infection.
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