COMMON INJURIES ASSOCIATED WITH THE FOOT
posted: Jun 10, 2018.
As long as we participate we consider ourselves athletes and maybe we all are. From the man who after his heart attack is on a treadmill daily, to the woman who jogs every morning, to the child who plays soccer ultimately to the marathon runner, each are capable and usually run into injury or problems many of them foot related.
- Plantar fasciitis – this is an inflammation of the soft tissue connecting to the heel bone. Most common complaint is extreme heel pain first few steps getting out of bed in the morning or after sitting. There can also be burning pains after standing or walking any extended period of time that can radiate into the long arch. Treatment can include ultra sound, taping and padding, cortisone injections and orthotic devices.
- Black discolored toenails – this situation can arise from the trauma of the nails hitting against the top of the shoe, especially in joggers and runners. Sometimes they are painful initially if blood is caught under the nail but usually they are not painful. The reason for the discoloration is the blood under the nail. The treatment depends on whether there is pain involved. There is no discomfort with the nail care.
- Knee complaints – many people have knee complaints with activity (skating, running, tennis). This can be due to the foot not functioning properly. For example if the foot rolls inward excessively (pronation) this does affect the knees. Often a properly made orthotic device can be a great help.
- Low back complaints – people with a high arch rigid foot that remains high on and off weight bearing can have low back pain because the foot, not being flexible, has a jarring affect on the foot, knee and back. This can occur in sports with running or jumping e.g. basketball. This often can also be helped by a flexible, soft cushion orthotic device, which can absorb the jarring and as a result help the back pain.
- Discolored yellow nails – these are discolored because of the fungus that invades the nail. Treatment starts with a test (culture) to determine the fungus organism involved. There are available oral medications such as Lamisil and topical medication, the newest being Penlac that is a clear liquid that is painted on the nail daily. This fungus is acquired walking barefoot at swimming pools or public showers.
- Athlete’s foot – is a peeling itching usually found between the toes. Prescription topical medications are usually very effective for this fungus infection.
- Stress fractures – this is a fracture of one of the metatarsal bones i.e. one of the small bones in the ball of the foot. It used to be called a march fractures because it was seen in young males in the army when they has to walk long distances with packs in heavy shoes. It is common in young runners, soccer players, etc. There is tenderness and symptoms develop such as arch strain. There is pain on activity, none on rest. Treatment includes mobilizing the area and no active sports.
- Morton’s neuroma – this is an inflammation of the nerve usually the one going to the 3rd and 4th toes. The symptoms can be feeling of tingling, numbness or electric shock going to those toes. It only occurs when wearing shoes. Typically when the pain occurs while walking the person takes off his shoes and massages the area to get relief. Treatment is generally an orthotic device, which takes pressure off that metatarsal area and gives relief.
- Strains and sprains – can occur in any sports activities. The most common sprain occurs on the outside ankle joint, when one goes over on the ankle during activity. Classically R. I. C. E. (rest, ice compression, elevation) is the best treatment.
- Heel bump – a not uncommon complaint, this is bursitis, a bump at the back of the heel near the attachment of the Achilles tendon. This bursitis can get quite tender with the irritation of the boot against the bump, ice skaters and hockey players often suffer from this, as can anyone in an active sport. The bump is genetic and wearing the proper orthotic device can eliminate pressure and give relief. Another bursitis can occur in the ball of the foot just behind the big toe. Often in track athletes a blister can occur in this area. The blister should be opened professionally and pressure should take off the area with padding/orthotic devices.
- Blisters – these occur when there is a lot of friction in an area of the foot not uncommonly on the bottom of the big toe and that area of the foot just below it, these can occur in persons that play racquet sports and basketball because participants have to stop and start frequently. These blisters can be filled with clear or dark (blood) fluid. A professional biomechanical examination by a chiropodist can determine the cause and course of treatment.
- Corns and callouses – are due to pressure and friction. The most common corns are found on the 5th or smallest toe. These can be most painful when they rub on shoes or boots during activity. Corns can also be found on hammer-toes (toes where the knuckle of the toe sits up). Callouses can be found on the bottom of the big toe, anywhere across the ball of the foot and the heels. Corns and callouses tell us that weight is improperly placed on the foot whenever there is weight bearing. A biomechanical examination by a chiropodist can determine the cause and treatment can follow.
- Problems can occur on the top of the foot as well. A jelly-like mass, a ganglion, can be seen on the top of the foot. When pressure is applied to this mass it tends to spread out and if painful should be removed. Also arthritic changes can cause bumps on the top of the feet, which make it difficult to buy comfortable shoes ’ due to the irritation on the area.
- Bunions – which are protrusion on the inside of the foot just south of the big toe. These can be painful if they rub against the inside of shoes. A biomechanical examination by a podiatrist can determine the cause and ultimately the treatment. Taylor’s bunions, which are protrusions on the outside of the foot south of the small toe.
- Small cysts can occur mainly on the bottom of the foot. A professional should determine the diagnosis. If the cyst is not painful, treatment is not necessary.
- Ingrown toenails – which occur mainly on the big nails, can be painful especially if infected, to someone participating in athletic activities.
- Plantar warts – which are found on the bottom of the feet and can be painful with walking and running.
Brought to you by Doctor John A. Hardy, owner of Toronto's foot clinic, Academy Foot and Orthotics Clinic.