Common Health Issues and Facts about the Bones in the Feet

Amethyst Lake- UT

 Dr. Spence D. Harper

Diseases and Surgery of the Foot and Ankle

Diplomate, American Board of Foot and Ankle Surgery®

Wasatch Foot and Ankle Center


Common Health Issues and Facts about the Bones in the Feet

Feet are complex anatomical structures, all-in-one stabilizers, shock absorbers, and propulsion engines that are instrumental to our overall health and well-being. Pain in the feet is never normal, and should be evaluated by a podiatrist (DPM). Everyone can have pain in their feet from the bones, tendons, muscles, and toenails. Here are some common health issues and facts about the bones in the feet, to help to evaluate whether seeing Dr. Harper is right for you! 

Please feel free to contact our office with any questions, concerns, or to schedule an appointment at 801-274-9062

What are stress fractures, and can you prevent them from happening?

Stress fractures are usually overuse injuries, but can also happen to people with low bone density. Overuse injuries are caused from repetitive stress on the body. 

Example: A marathon runner deciding to push his training from 4 miles a day to 8 miles a day, without working his way up gradually to 8 miles a day, could cause a stress fracture from the runner not giving his body enough time to adjust to the increase in activity. 

Stress fractures can sometimes be hairline fractures (A really small crack that can be hard to see on an x-ray) but hairline fractures are most commonly caused from a traumatic event like falling down the stairs or dropping a heavy object on your foot. Stress fractures and hairline fractures can be commonly confused with each other.

The best way to prevent a stress fracture is to gradually increase your activity and training. If you already have low bone density in your feet, the best way to prevent a stress fracture is to participate in lower impact activities, like swimming. 

What are symptoms of foot and ankle arthritis, and how can a podiatrist help? 

Symptoms of arthritis can be pain and swelling around the joints, experiencing a gradual loss of Range of Motion (ROM) or reduction of ROM without a known injury. 

There are multiple types of Arthritis:

Traumatic Arthritis– Condition triggered by an acute joint trauma, such as a sports, vehicle accident, or fall injury. 

Metabolic Arthritis– Develops when the body’s uric acid builds up and deposits in the joint causing damage, or when other, underlying medical conditions exist, such as autoimmune disorders (Rheumatoid, Lupus, psoriais).

Osteoarthritis (Most Common)– Occurs when the protective cartilage that cushions the ends of your bones wears down over time. 

Dr. Harper can help pinpoint the type of arthritis you are experiencing, and can help offer conservative care options such as helping with the pain and swelling, or possibly giving an injection. He can also explain and perform the benefits of surgical options such as joint replacement and cleaning the joint. When deciding whether a conservative or surgical treatment is best for you, Dr. Harper will always individualize your care and provide you with the most unique treatment plan, taylored to you.


What is osteoporosis, and how can a podiatrist help?

Osteoporosis is low bone density, caused by a lower density of minerals in the bone. There can be a number of reasons why someone may have osteoporosis: it’s most common in older females because estrogen plays a role in bone density, it can be a genetic issue, and may be a metabolic problem. Osteoporosis cannot be caused by a trauma to the foot. 

Metabolic issues causing osteoporosis: The body will not hold on to calcium like it is supposed to and will drain it by taking it from the bones. Resulting in a lower bone density.

Often Osteoporosis is a silent disease, patients don’t know they have it but will experience stress fractures often even though they are not very active. 

Dr. Harper can help patients with osteoporosis by taking an x-ray, if the image appears to be washed out or duller than a normal x-ray appears, he would order a bone density test to get a specific number to help reference and manage your bone density. Depending on the results of the test, Dr. Harper and your primary care will work together to create the best plan of care for you. 


Fun Facts About the Bones in the Feet!

  • There are usually 103 bones in the human body and 26 of them are located in the feet, a fourth of the body’s bones! 

Sometimes the foot can have accessory bones causing the number of bones in our feet to increase and other times the foot can fuse bones together causing the foot to have less bones than the average human!

  • All three types of bones in the body are located in the foot: Long, Short, and Sesamoid (Round bones)!
  • About 6% of the U.S population experiences some form of injury to the bones in their feet every year

Thank you for taking the time to review this information. We hope it was benefical and helped you to decide if scheduling an appointment with Dr. Spence Harper is right for you! 

To schedule an appointment you can call either office at 801-274-9062 or 435-657-0329, we also offer online scheduling through our main webpage

Best Regards,

Dr. Spence D. Harper and Staff from Wasatch Foot and Ankle Center

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