Feet are probably the most undervalued part of the body. They face daily wear and tear and are subjected to constant pressure. Quite frequently, foot health is not afforded the attention it deserves and feet are left neglected. However, the health of the foot (or feet), can have a significant impact on the overall health of the body. Simple conditions, if left untreated, can deteriorate to a point where they become problematic for the rest of the body, causing complications and health concerns. The best course of action is to treat problems with the feet when they first appear. Feet can suffer from a range of conditions. Below are some common ailments that affect foot health and the respective treatment methods.
A bunion is a painful bony lump that develops on the outer side of the foot, at the big toe joint. A bunion forms when there is constant pressure on the big toe joint, causing the big toe to lean inwards towards the others. Over time this will result in bone deformity and a large, often painful bump. Bunions cause pain, inflammation and in extreme cases, can limit a person's mobility.
Anyone can get bunions, but there are certain factors that make the formation of a bunion more likely:
Treatments for bunions will depend on how severely a bunion is affecting a person's daily life. If a bunion is only causing mild to moderate pain, and not limiting mobility, then a doctor may suggest a number of non-surgical methods of relieving pain and discomfort. This can include but is not limited to:
If a bunion has progressed and is causing severe pain and/or is limiting mobility, a person may be referred to an orthopaedic surgeon. An orthopaedic surgeon will be qualified to perform a number of procedures to remove the bunion and reduce any symptoms experienced. A consultation will be needed to determine the suitability of certain procedures. Bunion surgery realigns bone, ligaments and tendons, bringing the big toe/joint back into the correct position. Most procedures can be performed in a day patient capacity with very little recovery time needed.
Hammer toe is a deformity caused by a contracture of the toe. The toe becomes bent upwards in the middle (around one or both joints), causing a hammer like appearance. Although it can affect any toes on the foot, hammer toe usually occurs in the second, third, fourth or fifth toes and often in conjunction with other toe/foot conditions. Generally, the deformity starts out mild but progresses in severity over time, causing pain, swelling, the development of corns and difficulty or pain whilst walking.
Common causes of hammer toe include:
If a hammer toe is not presenting with severe symptoms, some commonly advised, non-surgical treatments include:
If a hammer toe is severely impacting on daily living, or causing acute pain and discomfort, then an orthopaedic surgeon will be able to perform surgery to correct the deformity. In more simple cases, a small piece of bone will be removed to bring the toe joint back into alignment. If the hammer toe has significantly progressed, more complex surgery will be needed. Exact surgical procedures will vary on a case by case basis.
Gout is caused by an excess of uric acid in the blood. Uric acid crystals accumulate in the joints and tendons causing inflammation, pain and swelling. Gout commonly occurs in the joint of the big toe but can occur in ankles, fingers, wrists, etc. Gout will occur in 'attacks' that will usually last for a number of days. After an initial attack of gout, preventative treatment is advised to reduce the occurrence of subsequent attacks.
Common causes of gout include:
The treatment of gout will usually involve a reduction of contributory factors to limit reoccurring attacks, things like a change in lifestyle or a review of medication. Preventative treatment should be availed of and there are many medications that can be prescribed to prevent attacks. When an attack occurs, pain relief will be needed to manage the symptoms.
In extreme cases, where gout has caused significant medical complications, orthopaedic surgery may be required. There are various treatments available and an orthopaedic surgeon will advise based on individual cases and symptoms.
Talk with an orthopaedist if you have specific questions about potential foot surgery.
As a football coach and first aid marshal, I'm used to my players getting injured and my role involves helping them walk through their treatment plan and come back to the team fully fit and ready for action. Over the years, I've had my fair share of football-related injuries, including a dislocated shoulder and torn cartilage in my knee. Torn ligaments, pulled muscles and joint pain are all part of the game, but I've seen players ready to give up on a sport they love due to injury. So, I started this blog to provide information about treatment options for common injuries and encourage those who are struggling with a football injury.