Common Foot Problems
What are bunions?
Hallux valgus, also known as a bunion deformity, is a bony bump usually at the base of the big toe. The big toe moves towards the second toe and usually goes over or under it. Your big toe is the hardest working toe and because the big toe is so critical to movement, any problem with it can make walking and standing painful.
What do bunions look and feel like?
The bunion can be painful and present as a cosmetic problem. There is usually redness, swelling, or pain at or near the joint at the base of the big toe.
Increasing deformity can cause the second toe to constantly rub on the shoe and create a corn. Finding appropriate shoes can become difficult. But you do not have to hobble for the rest of your life.
What can you do for relief?
• Wear shoes with a wide and deep toe box.
• If your bunion becomes inflamed and painful, apply ice packs.
• Avoid high-heeled shoes over two inches tall.
How are bunions treated?
If a bunion is not severe custom made inserts(orthotics) may be prescribed to control incorrect foot mechanics.
For severe bunions, day case surgery may be recommended which includes cutting and realigning the first metatarsal (the long bone behind the big toe joint). Once repositioned this bone is held in place with a screw that does not protrude from the skin. The majority of healing should occur within a few weeks but complete healing may take several months.
Bunion surgery can reduce pain and improve the appearance of your feet.
What is a hammertoe?
Hammertoes are a common condition with buckling of any of the toe joints. Joints at the end or middle of the toe may be affected. Toe joints usually curl because of a muscle imbalance, or tight tendons.
What do they look and feel like?
Toes can be hammered at one or two joints, causing claw, mallet or hammer toes. Constant pressure due to shoes can cause irritation and corns on the toes, which lead to pain.
How are hammertoes treated?
If your symptoms are mild, changing the type of shoes worn may slow down the progression of hammertoes. Using a splint to hold your toes may also help. If your symptoms are severe, surgery may be suggested to correct the alignment of the toe. The hammertoe can be corrected by releasing the soft tissues and by removing a piece of bone from the toe.
What is it caused by?
Heel pain also known as plantar fasciitis, can be the result of inflammation of the fascia. The plantar fascia is a dense fibrous band of tissue that inserts into the heel bone and spreads out across the bottom of the foot. Due to mechanical misalignment of the foot, excessive tension is placed on this band of tissue causing inflammation and pain.
What does it feel like?
The symptoms include pain in the centre of the heel with weight bearing. Heel pain is usually worse in the morning, especially the first steps, or after periods of rest. Pain is mostly described as sharp or aching and as pain intensifies the heel can hurt even while resting.
What can be done to treat the condition?
• Supporting the arch with orthotics to help reduce the tension on the plantar fascia.
• An injection of cortisone into the area of the inflamed fascia.
• Anti-inflammatory medication to reduce pain and inflammation in the fascia.
• If pain persists after conservative measures have been exhausted then surgery is recommended to release the fascia partially from the heel bone.
Commonly called a Morton’s Neuroma, is a swelling of one of the small nerves of the foot that develops between two metatarsals (toe bones).
What does it feel like?
Neuroma pain may start gradually and causes pain in the ball of the foot with weight bearing. People with this condition usually describe burning, tingling, cramping or numbness while walking. Many patients report sharp pains that spread out to the two toes where the nerve ends. The area between the third and fourth toes is most commonly affected.
How are neuromas treated?
• Changing to a wider shoe will reduce symptoms.
• Orthotics to prevent nerve irritation.
• Cortisone injection can relieve pain and swelling in the nerve.
• Surgery may be necessary to remove or decompress the neuroma.