An ingrown toenail occurs when the nail begins to grow into the surrounding skin instead of straight outward causing pain and discomfort. If left untreated, the nail may break the skin and allow bacteria to enter leading to infection. An ingrown can occur on any toe, but most commonly affects the big toe. The most common causes of ingrown toenails include:
- Improper trimming of nails
- Poorly fitted shoes
- Repeated trauma to the nail
- Tearing or picking at nails
Certain nail or toe shapes may also be prone to developing ingrown toenails. Signs of infection may include a fluid-filled blister, discharge around the edge of the nail, a foul odor, and even fever. If you notice these signs, seek medical attention as the infection may spread through the toe and into the bone leading to further complications.
The big toe is made up of two joints and a bunion forms when the enlarged joint becomes inflamed due to misalignment of the bones surrounding the joints. The ‘bump’ associated with bunions forms on the joint at the base of your big toe as your bones move out of place.
In most cases, patients find relief without surgery. Though this will not remove the bunion, it can help keep it from worsening as well as reduce pain and inflammation.
However, sometimes these types of treatments are not enough to alleviate your symptoms and surgery may be required. Surgery is recommended as the last form of treatment as it realigns bones, ligaments, tendons, and nerves to treat your bunion. Though the procedure may be done on the same day without a hospital stay, the road to recovery is long, so your decision for surgery should not be taken lightly.
A hammertoe is a foot deformity typically found in the lower digits of the foot. In this condition, the toe is bent at the middle joint, making it look like a hammer. Hammertoes can also lead to other foot conditions such as bunions, corns, or calluses. Foot pain and discomfort are not normal conditions with which you should have to live. Here at Spence D. Harper, DPM, we are proud to offer in-office hammertoe treatment to our patients.
There are two types of hammertoes:
Flexible Hammertoes- This is the first stage of hammertoes where the joint and toe is still moveable. It is less serious and can be treated if caught early on.
Fixed Hammertoes- This type is more developed and often the result of a flexible hammertoe being left untreated. The tendons are tight causing the joint to become immobile
Hammertoes can be similar to other foot deformities such as claw toe or mallet toes. Symptoms of the hammertoe condition may include:
- Pain in your feet, especially while wearing shoes
- Calluses or corns that are caused by toes rubbing against your shoes
- Swelling or redness
- Bent toes
- Open sores from where the joint contracts
- Restricted or painful motion of the joint
Hammertoes are often the result of a muscle imbalance or due to constant improper footwear, but they can also be caused by a combination of factors. Other factors may include genetics, trauma to the toe, and conditions such as arthritis or diabetes.
Treatment varies depending on the type of hammertoe and condition of the patient. After a thorough examination, your podiatrist will recommend the appropriate line of treatment for you.
Heel Spurs/Plantar Fasciitis
A heel spur is a common foot condition that is defined by a bony-like growth made from an excess of calcium deposits that develops from the bottom of your heel bone towards the arch of the foot over time. Heel spurs are often a result of strain on the muscles and ligaments within the heel and foot.
As the spur grows, they can begin to affect other parts of your foot, growing up to half an inch in length. A heel spur may not always be visible without x-ray and do not always cause symptoms of pain or irritation.
The common symptoms of heel spurs may include the following:
- Dull ache at the heel and bottom of the foot
- Sharp pain at the heel and bottom of the foot
- Inflammation and swelling around the heel area or bottom of the foot
- Small visible bone-like protrusion under the heel
- Tenderness or warmth felt around the heel area
Certain conditions such as arthritis and plantar fasciitis can increase your risk of developing heel spurs, along with various other lifestyle factors such as obesity, abnormal walking gait, improper footwear, and trauma to the foot.
Heel spurs are generally diagnosed during exams for heel pain or other foot conditions. Your podiatrist will conduct a physical exam and note any inflammation, tenderness, redness, or warmth around the area that may be an indication of a heel spur. Other physical tests and a diagnostic x-ray will be used to confirm a diagnosis.
If you have suffered repeated ankle sprains or strains, you may be experiencing chronic ankle instability. Symptoms of ankle instability include constant swelling or inflammation, tenderness, and weakness of the ankle, and they typically occur after a sprain.
It is important to seek proper rehabilitation after any type of ankle sprain or strain to help strengthen those muscles that support the ankle and affect your balance. In cases of chronic ankle instability, physical therapy, bracing, and certain medications are often prescribed to help aid in your rehabilitation and are often successful in helping prolong or even eliminate the need for surgery and preventing future injury.
Foot and ankle injuries are unfortunately very common. These types of injuries often occur when the ligaments that support the foot or ankle stretch beyond their limits and tear. This can be very painful, and can limit your ability to walk or bear weight. A sprain to the foot or ankle can happen to anyone with symptoms that can range from mild to severe depending on the injury.
When you seek treatment for a foot or ankle sprain, even if the injury is visible to the naked eye, your doctor may order imaging tests such as an x-ray, ultrasound, and/or MRI to rule out any broken bones. Broken bones in the foot or ankle can often present the same symptoms as a sprain. After testing and confirming that it is a sprain, your doctor will then perform a more thorough examination to diagnose the type of sprain and will prescribe any necessary treatment.