Patient Education

Athlete's Foot:
A skin infection caused by a fungus called Trichophyton that thrives within the upper layer of the skin when it is moist, warm, and irritated. The fungus can be found on floors and in socks and clothing, and it can be spread from person to person through contact with these objects. However, without proper growing conditions, athlete's foot fungus will not infect the skin. It can be treated with topical antifungal preparations. Also known as tinea pedis, athlete's foot is a form of ringworm.


A localized, painful swelling at the base of the big toe due to new bone formation. The affected toe is often curved outward. Bunions are frequently associated with inflammation of the nearby bursa (bursitis) and degenerative joint disease osteoarthritis. Bunions most commonly affect women, particularly those who wear tight-fitting shoes and high heels. Treatment includes rest, a change in shoes, foot supports, medications, or surgery.

Bunionettes (Tailor's Bunions):
An abnormal enlargement and inflammation of the joint at the base of the small toe. Also called a "tailor's bunion".


Corns & Calluses:
A corn is a small conical callosity caused by pressure over a bony prominence, usually on a toe.
A callus is the thickened skin due to chronic rubbing or irritation.


Inflammation of the skin.
Stasis dermatitis is characterized by scaly, greasy looking skin on the lower legs and around the ankles. Stasis dermatitis is most apt to affect the inner side of the calf.

Contact dermatitis is an allergic reaction to something that irritates the skin and is manifested by one or more lines of red, swollen, blistered skin that may itch or seep. It usually appears within 48 hours after touching or brushing against a substance to which the skin is sensitive. The condition is more common in adults than in children. Contact dermatitis can occur on any part of the body, but it usually affects the hands, feet, and groin. Contact dermatitis usually does not spread from one person to another, nor does it spread beyond the area exposed to the irritant unless affected skin comes into contact with another part of the body. However, in the case of some irritants, such as poison ivy, contact dermatitis can be passed to another person or to another part of the body.


Diabetic Feet:
Diabetic foot infections are infections that can develop in the skin, muscles, or bones of the foot as a result of the nerve damage and poor circulation that is associated with diabetes.
People who have diabetes have a greater-than-average chance of developing foot infections. Because a person who has diabetes may not feel foot pain or discomfort, problems can remain undetected until fever, weakness, or other signs of systemic infection appear. As a result, even minor irritations occur more often, heal more slowly, and are more likely to result in serious health problems.

With diabetes, foot infections occur more frequently because the disease causes nervous system changes and poor circulation. Because the nerves that control sweating no longer work, the skin of the feet can become very dry and cracked, and calluses tend to occur more frequently and build up faster. If not trimmed regularly, these calluses can turn into open sores or ulcers. Because diabetic nerve damage can cause a loss of sensation (neuropathy), if the feet are not regularly inspected, an ulcer can quickly become infected and, if not treated, may result in the death of tissue (gangrene) or amputation.

The risk of infection is greatest for patients over the age of 60 and who have one or more of the following:
poorly controlled diabetes
foot ulcers
laser treatment for changes in the retina
kidney or vascular disease
loss of sensation (neuropathy)


Dry Skin:
While dry skin is not a dangerous condition, it can become painful, and if the cracking starts to bleed, it can lead to infection – an especially serious problem for anyone with a chronic disease such as diabetes, or a lowered immune system due to age or illness.

Fractures and Stress Fractures:
A medical condition in which there is a break in the continuity of the bone. A bone fracture/stress fracture can be due to trauma sustained (fall, car accident, fight, etc.), or trivial injury as a result of certain medical conditions that weaken the bones, such as osteoporosis or bone cancer. That fracture is properly termed a pathologic fracture.
Closed (simple) fractures: are those in which the skin is intact.
Open (compound) fractures: involve wounds that communicate with the fracture, or where fracture hematoma is exposed, which can then expose the bone to contamination. Open injuries carry a higher risk of infection.
There are several types of fractures that effect the foot and ankle: Foot fractures: Lisfranc fracture (in which 1 or more of the metatarsals are displaced from the tarsus), a Jones fracture (a fracture of the fifth metatarsal), a March fracture (a fracture of the distal third of one of the metatarsals because of recent stress), or a Calcaneal fracture (a fracture of the calcanealus which is usually caused by a fall from height when one lands on their feet. These fractures represent approximately 2% of all fractures but 60% of tarsal bone fractures). Ankle fractures: Lateral Malleolus fracture (a fracture of the bump on the outer part of the ankle, made up of the fibula bone), Medial Malleolus fracture (a fracture of the bump on the inside of the ankle, made up of the tibia bone), Posterior Malleolus fracture (fracture of the bony prominence of the tibia, its rarely injured on its own), Bimalleolar fracture (two bones are injured in this type of fracture- typically the medial malleolus and the lateral malleolus, these fractures often make the ankle joint unstable), Trimalleolar fractures (in this fracture all three malleoli bones of the ankle, medial, lateral and posterior, are broken. These are often caused by a large amount of force, disruption of the ligaments or a dislocation), Syndesmotic injury (this is also referred to as a "high ankle sprain", usually a result of an oward twisting of the ankle. This injury may or may not be associated with an actual fracture of the bone, but it is often treated as a fracture."

Fungus of the skin and toenails:
There are two types of toe fungus—the type found on the skin and the type found on the nails. The type that occurs on the skin is commonly known as athlete’s foot. The type that occurs on the nails is medically known as onychomycosis, but is more commonly known as toenail fungus. All toe fungus feeds on keratin. Keratin is a protein nutrient found in the cells of our skin and nails. The fungus begins to attack immediately and spreads quickly due to the breakdown of the keratin. The breakdown causes the skin to become scaly and flaky and the nails to become discolored and crumbly.


A hammer toe occurs when the middle of the toe points upwards abnormally. This most often occurs in the second toe, and is often the result of a big toe bunion pushing on the second toe. A painful callous often forms on top of the first joint in the toe.

Heel Pain:
Heel pain is an extremely common complaint, and there are several common causes. It is important to make an accurate diagnosis of your symptoms so that appropriate treatment can be performed. Some causes of heel pain:
Plantar fasciitis is the most common condition that causes heel pain. It is due to irritation and inflammation of the tight tissue that forms the arch of the foot. Common symptoms of plantar fasciitis include heel pain with prolonged walking and standing.
Tarsal tunnel syndrome causes a large nerve (posterior tibial nerve) in the back of the foot to become entrapped, or pinched. patients commonly complain of numbness over the bottom of the foot, as well as complaints of pain, burning, and tingling over the base of the foot and heel. Occasionally, tarsal tunnel syndrome is confused with plantar fasciitis, or heel spurs.
Stress fractures of the heel are an uncommon cause of heel pain. Stress fractures should be considered especially in athletes such as long distance runners who have heel pain.
Posterior heel pain causes symptoms behind the foot, rather than underneath. Posterior heel pain causes include Achilles tendonitis (irritation/inflammation of the large tendon in the back of the ankle) and retrocalcaneal bursitis (bursa behind the heel that become irritated leading to bursitis and inflammation, and calcaneal spurs which can form over a long period of time at the insertion of the Achilles tendon in the back of the heel. This bony prominence can grow over time. This extra bone can irritate the surrounding tissues and lead to bursitis of the surrounding bursa.

Gout is a condition that causes sudden and severe attacks of pain, redness and swelling of joints, it most often affects a single joint in one episode (often the big toe). It is caused by the collection of uric acid within the fluid in your joints.


Ingrown Toenails:
An ingrown toenail is caused by abnormal growth of both the toenail and the surrounding tissues. When the toenail grows into the tissue surrounding it, a painful toe is the result. The irritation from the toenail causes swelling of the tissues and redness. The causes can be shoes that place excessive pressure on the toes, or trimming the toenail too short.


A tumor growing from a nerve, made of mostly of nerve cells and nerve fibers.
Morton's neuroma is a benign growth of the nerve sheath of a nerve that courses between the toes. This is an abnormal, painful growth.


a functional disturbance or pathological change in the peripheral nervous system, sometimes limited to noninflammatory lesions as opposed to those of neuritis (the inflammation of a nerve or group of nerves).


Toenail Fungus:
Fungus that occurs on the nails is medically known as onychomycosis, but is more commonly known as toenail fungus. All toe fungus feeds on keratin. Keratin is a protein nutrient found in the cells of our skin and nails. The fungus begins to attack immediately and spreads quickly due to the breakdown of the keratin. The breakdown causes the skin to become scaly and flaky and the nails to become discolored and crumbly.


Foot sprains can occur in all people at all ages. It may happen while walking, running, jumping or in any sports related activity. It is most common when one steps on an uneven surface and twists or bends the ankle excessively. In a sprained foot it is the ligaments which are damaged or torn. Ligaments are strong fibrous structures which hold bone together. These structures do not have great elasticity and are often damaged when there is forceful bending or twisting of the ankle joint. In most cases of sprain injury, the ligaments develop small tears which heal. In severe injuries, the ligament may rupture and create a very “loose” ankle.


Tendonitis describes inflammation, swelling, and irritation of a tendon. Tendonitis is a painful condition that is felt most at the tendon insertion site. Tendons are bands of fibrous material that attach muscle to bone. There are many tendons in our body, every muscle has a tendon that attaches it to bone. When these structures are irritated, they swell and become inflamed. A condition called tendonitis.


Ulcers and Wounds:
An ulcer is a sore on the skin or a mucous membrane, accompanied by the disintegration of tissue. Ulcers can result in complete loss of the epidermis and often portions of the dermis and even subcutaneous fat. An ulcer that appears on the skin is often visible as an inflamed tissue with an area of reddened skin. A skin ulcer is often visible in the event of exposure to heat or cold, irritation, or a problem with blood circulation. Ulcers often become infected, and pus forms.
A wound is an injury in which the skin, tissue, or an organ is broken by some external force such as a blow or surgical incision, with damage to the underlying tissue.


Plantar warts as they are refered to (plantar is the medical term for the sole of the foot) usually appear as a single lesion or as a cluster on the sole of the foot. Plantar warts, however, do not stick up above the surface like common warts. The ball of the foot, the heel and the plantar part of the toes are the most likely locations for the warts because the skin in those areas is subject to the most weight, pressure and irritation, making a small break or crack more likely. Plantar warts are usually painful, feeling like a permanent stone in the shoe.









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Definitions courtesy of: "The Free Dictionary", wikipedia and