Watch Your Step

Watch Your Step

Foot problems are common

A lot is riding on your feet. They bear the load of daily living and are subject to injury more than any part of the body.

A quarter of the body’s bones are in the feet. Each foot has 33 joints and more than 100 muscles, tendons, and connective tissues. Due to the foot’s complexity, age, body weight, improper footwear, and other factors can cause foot problems.

A survey by the American Podiatric Medical Association revealed 75 percent of people had some issue with their feet. Problems ranged from troublesome (excess sweating, odor, or nail problems) to painful (bunions or stress fractures). Half of those surveyed said their foot problems are severe enough to limit their activity in some way.

Common foot conditions include the following:

Ingrown nails
Ingrown nails is the most common toenail problem. It occurs when the outer corners of the toenail curl into the skin, causing irritation, pressure, redness, pain, and sometimes infection. Shoe pressure is often to blame. Other causes include improperly trimmed nails and repeated trauma to the feet from normal activities, such as running or walking.

A bunion is a painful bony bump on the side of the foot at the base of the big toe. The common deformity affects women more than men. The exact cause of bunions is unknown. However, risk factors for bunions may include wearing high heels, ill-fitting shoes, rheumatoid arthritis, and heredity.

Plantar fasciitis
This common cause of heel pain is an inflammation of the fibrous tissue (plantar fascia) that runs from the heel to the ball of the foot and toes. The cause of plantar fasciitis is not always understood. It is more common in runners and in people who are overweight.

Corns & calluses
These buildups of hard, thick skin develop from repeated friction, irritation, and pressure. The most common cause is shoes that do not fit properly. Calluses are larger and have a more irregular shape than corns.

Plantar warts
These small, rough growths look like calluses on the ball of the foot or heel. They may appear to have small pinholes or tiny black spots in the center. They are caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV) and are not a serious health concern.

Athlete’s foot
A fungus develops when a person’s foot becomes too moist in a shoe. This causes itchiness, burning, blisters, rashes, odors, redness, or skin peeling. People with athlete’s foot tend to produce an excessive amount of sweat, providing a home for the fungus to grow in a warm environment. The condition is contagious.

Diabetic ulcers
These open wounds or sores are usually found on the bottom of feet and affect many people with diabetes. It is vital to see a diabetes specialist immediately if foot ulcers are suspected.

A podiatrist is a physician and surgeon who specializes in treating the foot, ankle, and related structures of the leg. Podiatrists at Horizon Health treat all types of foot and ankle conditions, including injuries and non-healing wounds.