They are some of the most underappreciated body parts you have. They take you where you need to go and keep you upright. When something compromises them, however, you notice their loss. Your feet and ankles do a lot of work for your body. Since they handle so much weight and strain, it isn’t surprising that their job can take a toll on them after a while. Fortunately, Dr. Victoria Melhuish is a specialist experienced in treating a wide variety of conditions.
The Main Problems
You have six main categories of foot problems: wear and tear, arthritis-based, congenital, infectious, neoplastic, and traumatic conditions. Wear and tear problems are anything caused over time by stress on the foot, developing from improper footwear, overuse, and small biomechanical changes. Arthritis-based issues involve a breakdown in the joints. Congenital conditions are any foot problems that were present at birth. These are often inherited and can run in families. Infections issues are conditions caused by bacteria, viruses, or fungi. Neoplastic problems are abnormal tissue growths or tumors. Not all tumors of the foot are cancerous—in fact, several are benign—but they should always be checked to be sure. Traumatic injuries are painful problems that are caused by sudden stress or impact on the feet, like fractures.
All of the specific conditions of the feet and ankles fall under these categories. Some of the most common problems people seek help for include:
Bunions - These appear as large bumps on the side of the foot at the base of the big toe. They develop when the big toe becomes displaced, leaning toward its smaller neighbors. The joint then bulges outward and can rub uncomfortably against footwear. The stress on the ball of the foot can also cause discomfort and lead to several other foot conditions.
Hammertoes - A hammertoe is a small toe stuck in a bent position at the middle joint. This is generally caused by a muscle and connective tissue imbalance. The stiffer the toe becomes, the harder the condition is to fix.
Heel Spurs - These small, pointed growths develop as a result of stress on the bottom of the heel, usually from the large tendon called the plantar fascia pulling on the bone. They grow directly from the heel bone and can poke the soft tissues of the foot when you walk or stand.
Ingrown Toenails - Your nails are supposed to grow straight ahead, but they don’t always do so. Sometimes they grow sideways and push into the skin. Usually, this happens when your nails aren’t trimmed properly, but trauma, poor foot structure, and infection can warp the nails and cause it as well.
Neuromas - These are enlargements or extra growths of nerve tissues in the foot. They usually appear in response to pressure or trauma. The tissue swells and aches, causing burning and tingling sensations.
Plantar Fasciitis - You have a large tendon that runs along the sole of your foot and attaches at the heel. It can easily become strained and irritated with overuse. It swells and tightens over time, so your steps—especially in the morning—become increasingly painful.
Sesamoiditis - There are two small bones called sesamoids underneath the ball of the foot at the base of the big toe, embedded in a tendon. With hard impacts and stress from pushing off the ground, the tendon around these bones can become inflamed and make using the ball of the foot very uncomfortable.
Shin Splints - A common running injury, these develop from improper conditioning or a sudden increase in your activities. Your legs have a hard time adjusting and the tissues along your shins swell uncomfortably.
Stress Fractures - Impacts and high pressures strain the bones in your feet. Over time, thin cracks can appear, causing discomfort when you use the affected foot. They don’t cut through the whole bone, but they do significantly weaken the structure and put you at risk for worse injuries.
If you’re experiencing pain or weakness in your feet or ankles, don’t just ignore it. Most conditions get worse the longer they are ignored or untreated. Small problems with easy remedies become serious issues with long, involved treatments to fix. Instead of waiting until you can’t walk to seek help, contact the experts at Sierra Foot & Ankle for an appointment or more information. Visit the contact page online or call (775) 783-8037 to reach our Carson City, Nevada office.