Some foot problems start in the foot itself, for example, resulting from a foot injury. Problems can occur in any bone, joint, muscle, tendon, or ligament of the foot.
Foot and ankle fractures Foot Fractures Fractures of the foot include toe fractures and fractures of the middle bones of the foot (metatarsal fractures), the two small round bones at the base of the big toe (sesamoid fractures), or... read more are fairly common.
Other foot problems result from disorders that affect many parts of the body, such as diabetes Diabetes Mellitus (DM) Diabetes mellitus is a disorder in which the body does not produce enough or respond normally to insulin, causing blood sugar (glucose) levels to be abnormally high. Urination and thirst are... read more , gout Gout Gout is a disorder in which deposits of uric acid crystals accumulate in the joints because of high blood levels of uric acid (hyperuricemia). The accumulations of crystals cause flare-ups ... read more , or other types of arthritis.
Discoloration of the toenails Deformities, Dystrophies, and Discoloration of the Nails The terms deformities and dystrophies are often used interchangeably, sometimes even by doctors. However, their meanings are slightly different. Deformities: Changes in nail shape... read more should always be evaluated by a doctor because it may be caused by certain disorders, including a fungal infection.
People who have diabetes or peripheral arterial disease Occlusive Peripheral Arterial Disease Occlusive peripheral arterial disease is blockage or narrowing of an artery in the legs (or rarely the arms), usually due to atherosclerosis and resulting in decreased blood flow. Symptoms depend... read more (narrowing of the arteries that carry blood to the legs, arms, and possibly internal organs) should check their feet daily for signs of infection or ulcers and should have a doctor or foot doctor (podiatrist) check their feet at least twice a year (see Foot Care Foot care Occlusive peripheral arterial disease is blockage or narrowing of an artery in the legs (or rarely the arms), usually due to atherosclerosis and resulting in decreased blood flow. Symptoms depend... read more ).
Foot Problems in Older People
With aging, many changes occur in the feet:
Older people typically have less hair on their feet.
Brown discoloration (pigmentation) may occur in spots or patches.
The skin may become dry.
The toenails often become thicker and curved.
Fungal infections of the nails occur commonly.
The size of the feet may change.
The feet may actually become longer and wider because of changes in the ligaments and joints. A person with these types of changes may need to wear larger shoes. Therefore, feet should be measured periodically or when purchasing new shoes.
Also, feet can be damaged by a lifetime of poorly fitting shoes.
Treatment of Foot Problems
Footwear changes and orthoses
Injections of anesthetics and/or corticosteroids
Many foot disorders are successfully treated by changing a person’s footwear, such as wearing different shoes or using inserts or other devices placed in the shoe that change the position or range of movement of the foot to relieve pressure on affected joints or painful areas (called orthotics or orthoses).
Injections of an anesthetic into the affected joint or painful area can often relieve pain and decrease muscle spasms so that joints can move more easily, and a corticosteroid may also be injected to decrease inflammation.
If these treatments are not successful, sometimes surgery is needed to improve joint alignment and function and relieve pain.