Common Foot Problems

Heel Pain There are various types of heel pain, the most common being plantar fasciitis, heel bursitis and heel bumps:

Plantar Fasciitis is inflammation of the fibrous band of tissue, connecting the arch to the forefoot, which helps to support the arch of the foot. This can also develop into a heel spur at it's point of attachment to the heel causing extreme discomfort. Usually caused when patients are flat footed and often prevalent in overweight patients, keen walkers or athlete's. To help relieve any pain, we recommend arch supports and sports orthotics. Padding & strapping can also be useful. Physical therapies such as laser treatment and ultrasound are also effective. In extreme cases cortisone injections may be required, although these can be painful.

Heel Bursitis is the inflammation of a bursa which is a small sack of fluid found close to bone or tendon (similar to a blister under the skin) They usually develop to protect the joints against any trauma.

Heel Bumps can develop on the achilles tendon, usually caused from poor footwear rubbing on the back of the heel, causing pain if left untreated.

Fungal Infections / Athlete's Foot

Caused by various different micro organisms such as tinea pedis, symptoms such as itching between toes, burning sensation, redness and blisters often between toes, in extreme cases can develop into a sore, pus-filled weeping lesion. Fungal infections can also affect the toe nails (Onychomycosis) which will appear discoloured and often thick and crumbly; although rarely painful or itchy, can take a long time to treat.

Fungal infections are likely to be contracted in warm and damp conditions, such as communal changing areas, or even an infected towel. There are various products available to treat this condition such as Lamisil, Mycota, Daktarin or Canesten all of which are often successful treatments on skin and can clear within 2 weeks of use. However treatment to nail fungal infections often takes much longer to treat and may require stronger treatment which is available from a Podiatrist.

Over-Pronation (flat footed)

Over pronation is the most common foot pathology, involving exess lowering of the medial arch causing a number of problems. This can be easily corrected with orthotics. The following diagram shows before and after examples of over-pronation:

Verrucae / Warts

Verrucae are caused by a viral infection, the Human Papiloma Virus, although not dangerous, is extremely contagious via direct contact. The virus thrives in damp areas such as swimming pools, changing areas and bathrooms. Children are especially prone to verrucae. If left untreated, the virus will eventually clear on it's own, although this could take many years.

Treatments available : Cryo surgery (freezing). Liquid nitrogen or nitrous oxide will be directly applied to the verrucae or wart. This can prove too painful for many patients, but is the quickest and most effective treatment. Caustic treatments. Salicylic acid is applied directly to the affected area and left with a dressing and kept dry between 4-7 days; most patients will require several treatments of this kind. There are several acid based products available to treat verrucae at home such as Bazuka or Occlusal which can be successful; although often patients will require a stronger treatment. Other treatments include Laser therapy or Homeopathic products such as Thuija ointment, but results can vary dramatically between patients.

The number of treatments required will differ, depending upon size, severity and amount of veruccae present.

Bunions (Hallux Valgus)

As the foot pronates, the arch flattens which changes the alignment of the muscle pull on the big toe. Over time poor foot alignment, combined with excessive pronation can result in deviation of the big toe towards the second toe. Associated bony thickening, or bunion formation, can develop at the base of the first metatarsal phalangeal joint.

Achilles Tendon Pain (Achilles Tendonitis)

As the foot pronates there is a change in alignment of the achilles tendon. The achilles tendon is stretched medially which may result in inflammation and pain where the tendon attaches to the heel.

Shin Splints (Tibial Stress Syndrome)

The muscles Tibialis Anterior and Posterior act to support the arch of the foot. If the foot pronates excessively, the arch is lowered placing an overload on these muscles. Pain and inflammation may result.

Knee Pain (Patella-Femoral Pain)

As the foot pronates, the lower leg internally rotates. If excessive, the alignment of the patella is affected as it crosses from the upper to lower leg. Pain occurs around the patella, with associated weakening of surrounding muscle structures. Patients will often complain of pain when walking up or down stairs.

Advice on this website is a guide only, if in any doubt consult a Chiropodist or Podiatrist who will advise you further.