The A to Z

Browse for the key concepts in the footcare sector


0-9   A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

Arch pain

Pain across the bottom of the foot at any point between the heel and the ball of the foot is often referred to as "arch pain." Although this description is non-specific, most arch pain is due to strain or inflammation of the plantar fascia (a long ligament on the bottom of the foot). This condition is known as plantar fasciitis and is sometimes associated with a heel spur.

In most cases, arch pain develops from overuse, unsupportive shoes, weight gain, or acute injury. If arch pain persists beyond a few days, see a foot and ankle surgeon for treatment to prevent this condition from becoming worse.

Source: www.foothealthfacts.org


Athlete’s foot

Athlete’s foot is a common condition caused by a fungal infection. An itchy red rash develops in the spaces between your toes.

As well as being itchy, the skin in the affected area may be scaly, flaky and dry. The medical name for athlete’s foot is tinea pedis.

Source: NHS choices


Bunions

A bunion is a bony swelling at the base of the big toe and often leads to the big toe pointing inwards, towards the other toes.

A bunion develops as a result of the small bones in the toes (the phalanges) moving out of line with the longer bones that run through the foot towards the ankle (the metatarsals). Bunions are common and anyone can develop them, although they are more common in women.

The progression of a bunion may be slowed through the use of wider-fitting shoes or insoles and the pain can be easily managed by using painkillers. The only permanent solution is surgery, which may be recommended if your bunion causes you problems.

Source: NHS choices


Charcot Foot

Charcot foot is a condition causing weakening of the bones in the foot that can occur in people who have significant nerve damage (neuropathy). The bones are weakened enough to fracture, and with continued walking the foot eventually changes shape. As the disorder progresses, the joints collapse and the foot takes on an abnormal shape, such as a rocker-bottom appearance.

Charcot foot is a very serious condition that can lead to severe deformity, disability, and even amputation. Because of its seriousness, it is important that patients with diabetes—a disease often associated with neuropathy—take preventive measures and seek immediate care if signs or symptoms appear.

Source: www.foothealthfacts.org


Chilblains

As the name suggests, chilblains develop as a response to cold. They often appear on your extremities – such as your nose, earlobes, fingers and toes – which tend to be more vulnerable to the cold. Chilblains tend to be very itchy and may be accompanied by a burning sensation.

Chilblains start as red lumps that can be painful and tender, and sometimes these lumps can blister. Chilblains will typically last about seven days and will heal on their own. However, if a blister or ulcer forms, there is a risk of infection. Some people will get chilblains each winter and should take extra care to keep their extremities as warm as possible.

Source: NHS choices


Claw toes

A claw toe is a toe deformity consisting in the over-flexion of the proximal and distal interphalangeal joints.

Claw toes are caused by the dysfunction of the extensor and flexor tendons of toes, thus producing an imbalance in the normal functioning of structures and resulting in an abnormal, claw-like position of the toes.

This condition is sometimes painful and leads to skin injuries caused by friction of toe bone protuberances against footwear.

There are different types of medical treatment, such as the removal of skin injuries with a scalpel blade, the use of silicone protective pads or orthotics to compensate for muscle imbalance.

Source: Instituto Valenciano del Pie


Corns and calluses

Corns and calluses are areas of hard skin on the feet caused by excessive pressure or shoes rubbing.

Corns are usually small and circular. Hard corns tend to develop on the bumpiest parts of the foot and soft corns develop between the toes where sweat keeps them moist. Calluses are wider and less well-defined and will often develop on the parts of the foot that take the most weight, such as the ball of the foot.

If they cause discomfort, corns and calluses can be treated by a podiatrist, who can cut away thickened skin. Choosing insoles or more comfortable shoes may also help.

Source: NHS choices


Cracked Heels

There are many potential causes of "cracked heels." Dry skin (xerosis) is common and can get worse with wearing open-back shoes, increased weight, or increased friction from the back of shoes. Dry cracking skin can also be a subtle sign of more significant problems, such as diabetes or loss of nerve function (autonomic neuropathy).

Heels should be kept well moisturized with a cream to help reduce the cracking. If an open sore is noted, make an appointment with a foot and ankle surgeon for evaluation and treatment.

Source: www.foothealthfacts.org


Diabetes

Diabetes is a lifelong condition that causes a person's blood sugar level to become too high.

There are two main types of diabetes, referred to as type 1 and type 2.

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Fungal nail infection

A fungal nail infection is four times more likely to develop in a toenail than a fingernail, and while it can look unsightly it is not serious and is rarely painful. A fungal infection can look ugly because the nail often becomes thickened and can turn white, black, yellow or green.

The nail can sometimes become brittle, with pieces of nail breaking off or even coming away from the toe completely. Underneath and around the nail (the nail bed), the skin can sometimes become inflamed and painful, but this tends to suggest a yeast infection. A fungal nail infection is not serious, but it will not clear up on its own and requires treatment with antifungal medicine.

Source: NHS choices


Gangrene

Gangrene occurs when there is a lack of blood supply to tissue, depriving it of oxygen, and thereby causing death and decay of the tissue. The two types of gangrene are wet (caused by bacterial infection) and dry (no infection). 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.

Source: www.foothealthfacts.org


Gout

Gout is a condition that causes painful swelling in the joints and is caused by a build up of uric acid in the blood. The body usually rids itself of uric acid when we pass urine, but if it builds up, crystals can form and collect in a joint, causing inflammation, swelling and pain.

The base of the toe is the most commonly affected joint and the pain can be severe, making walking very painful. The joint affected will normally swell and the surrounding skin may look red and inflamed. Gout is treated with medication and can be controlled through changes in diet and reducing alcohol consumption.

Source: NHS choices


Hammer toe

Hammer toe is a deformity of the second, third or fourth toe, when the toe appears permanently bent at the joint. There are a number of causes of hammer toe. Ill-fitting shoes are a common culprit. Injury, bunions or rheumatoid arthritis are other causes.

Hammer toe can cause other problems. Because the toe joint sticks out, it is more susceptible to shoes rubbing, meaning corns and calluses can develop. Hammer toes can also cause stress on the ball of the foot, which can lead to pain known as metatarsalgia.

Source: NHS choices


Heel pain

Heel pain is a common foot condition. It is usually felt as an intense pain when using the affected heel.

Heel pain usually builds up gradually and gets worse over time. The pain is often severe and occurs when you place weight on the heel.

In most cases only one heel is affected, although estimates suggest around a third of people have pain in both heels.

The pain is usually worse first thing in the morning, or when you first take a step after a period of inactivity. After walking the pain usually improves, but often gets worse again after walking or standing for a long time.

Some people may limp or develop an abnormal walking style as they try to avoid placing weight on the affected heel.

Being overweight can place excess pressure and strain on your feet, particularly on your heels. Losing weight and maintaining a healthy weight by combining regular exercise with a healthy balanced diet can be beneficial for your feet.

Wearing appropriate footwear is also important. Ideally, you should wear shoes with a low to moderate heel that supports and cushions your arches and heels. Avoid wearing shoes with no heels.

Source: NHS choices


Metatarsalgia

Metatarsalgia is a type of pain that occurs in the ball of the foot, also called the metatarsal region.

The pain can range from mild to severe and often gets worse when you stand or move. It is sometimes described as a burning or aching sensation and you may have shooting pains, tingling or numbness in your toes. Some people also experience a sensation that feels like walking on pebbles.

The pain often occurs in the area where the second, third and fourth toes meet the ball of the foot.

Most cases of metatarsalgia respond well to self-care treatment. In rare cases, orthotic supports or surgery may be required to repair underlying damage to the foot.

Source: NHS choices


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