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What common foot conditions can a Podiatrist treat?

Podiatrists can treat many common foot conditions. Below is a list of conditions that you, as a podiatrist-to-be will treat on a regular basis.

Conditions affecting the Skin

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Athletes Foot Chilblains Corns and Callus Verrucae

Conditions affecting the Nails

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Fungal Nails Ingrown Toenails Thickened Nails

Conditions affecting the Heel

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Bursitis Haglunds Bump Heel Pain Heel Spurs Plantar Fasciitis Severs Disease

Conditions affecting the Toe

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Bunions Hallux Limitus Hallux Rigidus Hammer Toe Mallet Toe

Conditions affecting the Fore Foot (Ball of the Foot)

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Freibergs Infraction Metatarsalgia Morton's Neuroma Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome

Conditions affecting the Foot Arch


Flat Feet

Conditions affecting Diabetics


The Diabetic Foot 1

Here you are some samples of the conditions mentioned above:

Athletes Foot
Athlete's Foot is caused by a fungal infection on the feet and can cause great discomfort. If left untreated it can spread to other parts of the body.

What is Athletes Foot?

Athlete's foot is a common name given to a fungus infection of the skin that predominately occurs in between toes but can occur anywhere on the foot. If left untreated the condition can spread to other parts of the foot, hands and can even affect the face. This condition can cause a great deal of discomfort and can affect an individual's quality of life. The skin involved may be red, swollen and may contain sticky fluid. Patients may also experience a scaly dry rash on the bottom and sides of feet. This type of athlete's foot is called a "moccasin" pattern. Cracks or "fissures" can occur between the toes. Symptoms include dry and itchy lesions. Patients often report a burning or stinging sensation. A common associated condition with athletes foot is a fungal nail infection. If athletes foot is not treated the lesion can become infected and extremely painful.

What causes Athletes Foot?

Athlete's foot is caused by a fungal infection of either one, or both, of the feet. We all have bacteria and fungi on our skin, most of which are harmless. However, in some conditions, these organisms can multiply and cause our skin to become infected. Athlete's foot is caused by a group of fungi known as dermatophytes. These fungi are parasitic, which means they feed off other organisms to stay alive. Your feet provide a warm, dark and humid environment, which are the ideal conditions needed for dermatophytes to grow. Athlete's foot is a contagious condition, but there are steps that you can take to help prevent the spread of infection. Athlete's foot can spread through both direct and indirect contact. Direct contact involves skin to skin contact. For example, someone may develop the infection if they were to directly touch your affected skin, and not wash their hands afterwards. The infection can also spread through indirect contact. For example, the fungi can be passed on through contaminated towels, bed sheets, and clothing. Showers, swimming pools, and locker rooms are also common places where the infection can be passed on. This is because, like your feet, these places are usually warm and humid, which encourages bacteria and fungi to multiply.

How can we help?

Generally the new anti fungal treatments available from the pharmacist or podiatrist are very effective in their topical applications. It cannot be stressed enough that success is

much higher when combined with a regime of effective laundering of all hosiery, bed sheets and the disinfecting of bathing areas.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------Fungal Nail
Fungal nail infections are very common, particularly in adults. Fungal nail infections can take a long time to resolve.

What are Fungal Nails?

Fungal nail infection (onychomycosis) is very common, particularly in the toenails. Around half of all nail problems are due to fungal nail infection. It usually affects adults, and affects more men than women. It also becomes more common as you get older. There are several types of fungus that cause nail infections. For example, athlete's foot is a fungal skin infection of the toes, which easily spreads to the toenails. Candida is a yeast which can cause an infection of the skin around the nails, usually the fingernails.

What causes Fungal Nails?

About 20% of the population are likely to have a fungal nail infection at some point in their lives. Dermatophytes are the most common cause of fungal nail infections accounting for 85% of cases. The nail can appear as white, yellow, or just a change in its thickness and structure.

How can we help?

There is a choice of either oral or topical anti fungal treatments. Oral anti-fungal treatments can be prescribed by the GP. Topical treatments are available over the counter or from the podiatrist. Fungal nail infections can take a long time to resolve (12months +), but the proper preparation of the nail surface by a podiatrist prior to applying the topical agent can increase the success. ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

A Bursa acts as a cushion between your bones, joints and muscles. If a Bursa becomes inflamed due to injury or infection the condition is known as Bursitis. Simple first aid measures can aid the recovery.

What is Bursitis?
Bursitis is inflammation of a bursa. A bursa (the plural is bursae) is a fluid-filled sac that acts as a cushion between moving parts of the body, such as bones, muscles, joints and tendons. The most common symptom of bursitis is pain in the affected body part.

What causes Bursitis?

There are three main ways that bursitis can develop:

Injury Infection When you have a pre-existing health condition that causes crystals to form inside a bursa.

How can we help?

Rest the affected body part until symptoms improve, and avoid any activity that causes additional pain. Ice. The use of ice packs can be effective in reducing symptoms of inflammation and pain. Wrap an ice pack (you can use a small pack of frozen vegetables) in a towel, and apply the towel to the affected area for 10 minutes twice a day. Compression. Using an elastic bandage or dressing to compress affected joints can help to relieve pain. Elevation. If it is physically possible to do so, elevating the affected body part above the level of the heart will stop blood gathering in the bursa, which should help to reduce inflammation. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Bunions may only need treatment if they are causing pain and discomfort. Ill fitting shoes can cause bunions and also make them worse. Podiatrists can prescribe orthotics to slow down or halt the progression of Bunions.

What is a Bunion?

A bunion is a bony swelling at the base of the big toe. The medical name for a bunion is hallux valgus. Sometimes, the big toe can become angled inwards, towards the middle of the foot and the second toe. This can force the top of the first metatarsal to protrude (stick out) from the side of the foot, at the base of the big toe. If this happens, a painful, swollen bunion forms.

What causes a Bunion?

If other members of the family have bunions, the patient is more likely to develop them him/herself. This is because the bend of his/her big toe that causes bunions tends to run in families. In many cases, bunions may develop as a result of wearing shoes that do not fit properly. Women get bunions more often than men from wearing tight, pointed or high-heeled shoes. High heels push most of the body weight on to the front of the foot, placing a great strain on the toe joints. If shoes are too tight, they rub against the big toe joint. Continuing to wear badly fitting shoes will make bunions worse.

How can we help?

A person may only need to have treatment for a bunion if it is causing you pain or discomfort. It is advisable for anyone with a bunion to wear flat or low-heeled, widefitting shoes. We may also find that shoes with laces or straps are preferable to slip-on shoes because they can be adjusted to fit. An ice pack or cold compress can also be used to numb pain and reduce swelling. Orthotics can slow or halt the progression of bunions by addressing the instability which causes the deformity, often providing complete symptomatic relief. However, orthotics cannot reduce the pre-existing bony deformity. In more serious cases the Podiatrist may refer the patient for Surgery. ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Freibergs Infraction is often the result of stresses or injury to the foot. Simple rest can often be the best treatment but orthotics can also be manufactured to relieve pressure.

What is Freibergs Infraction?


Freiberg's Infraction occurs when the head of the 2nd metatarsal bone (the toe closest to the big toe) has a focal loss of blood supply. The result is a collapse of the metatarsal head. Sometimes the heads of the third and fourth metatarsal bones are also involved. It is most common in girls and boys and most often appears between the ages of 11 and 17 years.

What causes Freibergs Infraction?

Freibergs Infraction can often be the result of stress or injury to the foot. Overzealous sporting activities such as running and jumping, as well as rapid skeletal growth can increase the risk of developing Freibergs Infraction.

How can we help?

Sometimes simple rest for 1-4 months with no sporting activity may be adequate for a teenager to be treated of this condition. Custom made orthotics can be manufactured to relieve the pressure on the metatarsal head. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Flat Feet
Flat Feet have a low arch or no arch at all and symptoms can vary depending on the severity of the condition. Flat feet can be effectively treated with orthotics.

What are Flat Feet?

Flat feet is a condition in which the foot doesn't have a normal arch. It may affect one foot or both feet. Most people have a gap between in the inner side of the foot and the ground when they are standing. This is referred to as an "arch". Feet that have a low arch or no arch at all are referred to as flat feet or fallen arches. On standing the patient will have a flat arch and the foot may roll over to the inner aspect. The symptoms vary depending on the severity of the condition. Individuals may experience corns and hard skin under the sole of the foot. The arch area may be tender and shoes will tend to wear out quickly. In severe cases the patient may experience calf, knee, hip and back pain.

What causes Flat Feet?

Painful flat feet in children may be caused by a condition called tarsal coalition. Tarsal coalition is a condition where two or more of the bones in the foot fuse together, limiting motion and often leading to a flat foot. Flat feet can also be caused by fallen arches. Years of wear and tear can weaken the tendon that is responsible for shaping the

arch. Fallen arches can also be caused by injury such as inflammation of the tendons in the foot.

How can we help?

Flat Feet can be effectively treated with orthotics that provide biomechanical support and help feet to function more efficiently. The most effective orthotics are those which are custom made to fit the foot. The orthotic should provide both support for the longitudinal arch and medial rear foot posting to combat over pronation. Orthotics should be combined with supportive footwear that fits the foot correctly and contains a firm, low heel. In the most extreme circumstances the Podiatrist may suggest Surgery, but this would only be if all treatment options had been exhausted. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Diabetic Foot Care

People with Diabetes must pay particular attention to the care of their feet.

How can we help?

Foot care amongst diabetics is incredibly important. Even small ulcers on the foot can represent a serious risk: they may heal extremely slowly and need rigorous treatment to cure. Foot ulcers affect as many as 1 out of every 10 diabetes sufferers, during the entirety of their condition. Ulcers can develop into serious lower body infections. Diabetics must pay particular attention to their foot health for a number of reasons:

Diabetes can lead to a loss of sensation in the feet (distal polyneuropathy), meaning that damage is more likely to go unnoticed. There can be changes to the muscle power in the leg, leading to changes in foot shape and high pressure areas. The skin can become dry (anhidrotic) due to autonomic nerve neuropathy. Dry skin is more likely to crack and create a portal of entry for infection. Diabetics are more likely to develop problems with their blood supply to the feet (due to calcification of arteries in the periphery).

A podiatrist can perform vascular, neurological and functional tests which will tell the patients foot health status. It is important to have the feet checked regularly, and they should check their own feet daily if he/she is a diabetic. Podiatrists are experts at offloading pressure from areas of the foot that are at risk of ulceration. A condition called diabetic neuropathy sometimes occurs over time. Commonly, this manifests itself as peripheral neuropathy, and usually affects the sensory nerves in the legs. If the nervous system is even slightly damaged, the extremities of the body can become numb. For this reason, the patient may not be able to feel foot problems until they have developed. 7