Foot Conditions - Abnormalities, Diseases, Sprain and Fractures

Conditions of the Foot

Dr.Surya Rao Poodipeddi profile Authored by Dr.Surya Rao Poodipeddi on 27 Mar 2014 - 12:59.

Following from the artcile on The Foot - A Work of Art, where we studied the anatomy of the foot, this article deals with various conditions of the foot as a second part of the same article.

The Foot - A work of Art was Part I, covered the structure and functions of the foot giving an insight into the human foot, outscoring any of the engineering marvels known to mankind combining mechanical complexity and structural strength. The 2nd part deals with various conditions of the foot.

Conditions of the foot ( as part II)

Part II makes an attempt to cover all the conditions which affect a human foot.  Some of these conditions are congenital occurring right from the birth of a child while others can be due to an injury, a disease in the foot itself or a condition elsewhere in the body which can affect the foot as well. 

Only a brief mention of the common conditions will be made with a view to covering as many conditions as possible.

Conditions of the foot:

  • Abnormalities affecting children: One out of every 100 newborns ends up with some abnormality in the foot. Luckily most of them resolve without treatment. The commonest condition is the flat foot where fat pad obscures the arch. If there is pain or cramps as the child grows up corrective shoes can resolve the problem.
  • Blue coloration of the feet occurs in a condition called Acrocynosis due to unexplained spasms in the small blood vessels supplying the foot especially in very cold conditions. Warming the area gives relief in most cases. In rare cases where there is severe pain and discoloration, doctors may advise excision of the sympathetic nerves to relieve the symptoms.
     
  • A condition called ‘The Foot is asleep’ presents itself with an abnormal sensation called paresthesia and tingling when the blood supply to the nerves supplying is cut off due to compression of the nerves. Moving around will restore the blood supply and the compression is relieved.
     
  • A condition called Burgers disease can affect the feet due to obstruction of small and medium sized blood vessels and veins caused due to an inflammatory process triggered by smoking. Also called thromboangitis obliterans, this condition is more common in men over 30 years who smoke excessively. Only 5 percent of women are known to suffer from this disease. Starting from the toe tip, it may progress gradually involving the whole foot leading to gangrene and warranting amputation.  
     
  • Chill Blains: This is a condition which usually follows frostbite of the foot exhibits painful chilling or burning sensations due to exposure to cold. Chilblains are difficult to cure and may persist for a long period.
  • Club Foot: Otherwise known as Talepes, clubfoot is a condition in which the foot is twisted out of shape or position. The arch of the foot may be very high or the foot may get turned inwards or outwards. A true clubfoot is always due to some inherent anatomical abnormalities; In some cases the feet may appear abnormal due to the position of the fetus in the mother’s womb, which cannot be considered as a true clubfoot. If there is no anatomical abnormality the condition can be corrected with plaster casts left for about 6 months to correct the twist. In case of a true clubfoot early casting with plaster can help. Neglected cases require surgical intervention.
     
  • Immersion foot is a condition caused due to prolonged stay of the foot in a cold and moist sock or shoes leading to cold and clammy area and weak circulation of blood. Gentle warming and use of antibiotics gives relief.
  • Corns in the foot are a pea sized thickened area of keratin. Hard corns appear over the joints of the toes. If they occur between toes they are usually soft. They cause pain because of transfer of pressure to the underlying bones.
  • Chronic dermatitis of the foot is a condition where the feet get frequently inflamed and irritated. Dermatologist’s opinion is a must.

Some of the foot problems as explained in the initial paragraph may start in the foot itself, like in case of foot injuries and some result from a disease affecting the whole body. Any bone, muscle, ligament, joint or a tendon in the foot can be affected alone or in combination.

These conditions include ankle sprain, fractures in the foot, heel spurs known as calcaneal spur where we find a sharp bony projection giving intense pain when standing on the heel. Sever’s disease seen in children where there is damage to the cartilage. Acheles Tendon Bursitis due to inflammation of the fluid filled bursa of the tendon which can be anterior (frontward) or posterior (back portion),  bursitis in the heel, pain in the ball of the foot,  in- growing of the toe nail where the edges of the nail grow into the surrounding skin, discoloration of toe nails due to vascular problems and arthritis of the joints in the foot especially gouty arthritis affecting the great toes. Stress fractures of the foot commonly occurring in sports persons and a lot more conditions that can affect either or both feet are some of the common conditions affecting a foot.

Other conditions affecting the foot which need special mention include, plantar fascistic, Talepus equines and Bunions which are common in early or late adult life presenting as a distinct projection of the bone outwards at the metatarsophalangeal joint of the great toe requiring surgical excision for relief of pain. Foot drop is another important condition due to neurological problem

It is not possible to give detailed description of each and every condition affecting the foot due to paucity of space and hence only a brief mention is made about some of the important and commonly encountered conditions.

*Disclaimer: This is not medical advice. The content is for educational purposes only. Please contact your doctor for any health care issues.