Some common foot problems explained
You will find the most common foot conditions outlined below. Just click on a heading to reveal more information.
Further information can be found under our leaflets sections.
A general tidy up of those bits and pieces of hard skin, corns, cracked heels and thick toenails can make all the difference to the look and feel of your feet.
As podiatrists we can use a variety of methods to help you, including expert use of the scalpel and the podiatry drill. A podiatrist will also be able to assess whether your minor skin and nail problems are being caused by an underlying structural/ biomechanical problem, or footwear problem. Fungal infections are common in the feet, both in the toes and on the skin. A Podiatrist can diagnose these problems and recommend a suitable treatment. (Podiatrists fully sterilize all instruments in an autoclave).
You may have a mild case of ingrowing toenails if you experience discomfort when pressure is put on the toes from shoes, or even from bed clothes at night. Quite often there is a build up of hard skin under the nail that you can’t see or get at. This condition can easily be treated by a podiatrist with an expert cut of the nails and clearance of the hard skin.
A more severe case of ingrowing toenails can lead to acute inflammation and /or infection. This is usually caused by a perforation of the skin, in the nail-fold by the nail. You may be prescribed antibiotics by your GP, however it is a good idea to see a Podiatrist to try and correct the underlying problem with the nail.
Podiatrists are qualified to give local anaesthetic, which means that even the most severe cases of ingrowing toenails can be treated with the minimum of discomfort. A small operation removing a piece of the nail can be performed to permanently solve the problems of recurring ingrowing toenails.
Verrucae are warts on the feet; they are caused by a virus. There are several different strains of the virus that cause different kinds of warts. Some are painless and appear as a single wart and don’t spread, others are very painful and some spread very quickly.
When they occur in very young children there is a good chance that they will disappear on their own in 6 months to a year. If you have had verrucae for longer than 2 years then the chances of them just going without any treatment are very slim.
Podiatrists in general would prefer to see and start treating verrucae in adults as soon as possible. There is a much better chance of a quick resolution. Once verrucae have spread, or have got very large in size, they can be very time consuming to treat.
Even the most experienced podiatrist cannot tell by looking at a verruca how long it will take to get rid of. Not only do the warts vary in themselves but also every person reacts differently to treatment. At the Oakridge Practice we treat verrucae with caustics (a special paste that is strapped onto the foot and has to be kept dry for 2-3 days) and/or with liquid nitrogen (freezing treatment). We can treat weekly, 2 weekly or 3 weekly. Quite often we will ask you to do a home treatment as well.
Getting rid of verrucae can take perseverance and dedication.
As general practitioners of podiatry our main aim in our Diabetic foot care provision is education and prevention of serious problems if at all possible. If you do have a foot ulcer or charcot joint then you should be under the care of the specialist diabetes team at your local hospital where there is a multi-disciplinary approach that is essential for the successful treatment.
Foot care amongst diabetics is incredibly important. Foot ulcers affect as many as 1 out of 10 people with diabetes.
Even small ulcers on the foot can represent a serious risk: they may heal extremely slowly and need rigorous treatment to cure.
Ulcers can develop into serious lower body infections, with the possibility of amputation at an advanced stage.
As general practitioners of podiatry our main aim in our Diabetic foot care provision is education on foot care and prevention of serious problems if at all possible. If you do have a foot ulcer or charcot joint then you should be under the care of the specialist diabetes team at your local hospital where there is a multi-disciplinary approach that is essential for the successful outcome of treatment.
The earlier a foot wound or injury such as a puncture can be treated, the better. For this reason, you should call your podiatrist as soon as you experience a cut, corn, callus or ingrown toenail so that you can receive timely treatment before a small problem becomes a big one.
Foot Health Assessment may include the following:
- Looking at the condition of your skin to see if you have any areas of hard skin (calluses or corns), any dryness or cracks in the skin or any signs of potential infections such as Athlete’s foot or verrucae.
- Assessment of the blood and nerve supply to your feet and legs to make sure that the blood flow is normal and that you are able to feel different types of sensation such as your ability to sense pin-pricks, light touch and vibration. In this way the podiatrist can ensure that any breaks that may occur in the skin will be at less risk of not healing and that you can feel sensations such as pain (which is protective although obviously unpleasant!)
- Assessment of the joints and soft tissue structures and foot shape (forms part of a ‘biomechanical’ assessment). This can help the podiatrist to decide if you require supportive or cushioning insoles/orthoses that will aid your foot function and reduce the risk of developing joint deformity (together with the use of disease modifying anti-rheumatic drugs) from early on in your diagnosis.
- Assessment of the way you walk (your ‘gait’). This is usually part of what is called a biomechanical assessment. By looking at the way your foot, ankle, knees and hips move during walking, Podiatrists can determine how your foot function impacts on the way other joints function during gait and vice-versa. Again this can help podiatrists decide on the need or type of insoles/orthoses you may require.
- Assessment of footwear. The podiatrist will assess the shoes thatyou wear on a day-to-day basis focussing upon the fit of the shoes to your foot shape, the heel height and the way the shoes are held on to your foot (slip-on, laces, buckle etc.)