Understanding the terms used by your podiatrist or foot care professional is key to receiving better care and fixing your foot problems. The list below includes some of the more common terms likely to be used by foot doctors and foot pain clinics.
The Achilles tendon is the tendon that runs along the back of the heel. The Achilles tendon allows the foot to point. These tendons are susceptible to tearing, strains or rupture because of age, athletic activity and overuse.
Also known as: heel pain, Achilles tendon tears, Achilles tendon rupture, Achilles pain
Athlete’s foot is a skin condition that is usually caused by foot fungus. Athlete’s foot usually affects the sole of the foot and the area between the toes. It causes red, scaly, itchy bumps that may weep. Athlete’s foot is very contagious and can be contracted in locker rooms, gyms, pools, nail salons, and from person-to-person. Athlete’s foot requires a warm, moist environment to grow.
Also known as: tinea pedis, foot fungus
Bunions occur when toes bend to the inside or outside of the foot rather than pointing straight ahead. Bunions usually appear as a bump or lump on the toe that is painful or swollen. This often occurs near toe joints. Bunions may be caused by tight-fitting shoes, especially those that pinch or constrict the toes and ball of the foot.
Also known as: foot bunion, Hallux Valgus
Foot calluses are a thickening of the skin on the bottom of the foot. Many people develop small calluses in areas where their shoes rub; this natural occurrence helps protect the foot. Calluses that become too thick may qualify as Intractable Plantar Keratosis, also known as IPK, which can be a painful condition that needs attention from a podiatrist.
Also known as: foot calluses, heel calluses
Corns are calluses that occur on the top of the toes. These can become thick and uncomfortable, even causing pain when one wears shoes.
Also known as: foot corns, toe corns
cosmetic foot surgery
Some podiatrists or orthopedic surgeons provide cosmetic foot surgery, including narrowing the foot, shortening the foot, narrowing toes, removing unsightly bumps on the foot, or other surgery that changes the size or appearance of the foot. This is often done so that feet fit better in shoes or look better.
Also known as: plastic surgery for feet, toe-shortening surgery, surgery for ugly feet
Dry, cracked heels can also be known as xeorosis. This condition is evident from the thickening of the sole of the foot (usually on the heel) and heel calluses that crack. Cracked heels may start out as a cosmetic problem, but may turn into painful heel cracks that bleed and ache. Cracked heels may become especially problematic in individuals who have diabetes, low blood pressure or other medical issues that can exacerbate the problem.
Also known as: dry cracked heels, heel cracks, heel fissures, painful heel cracks, deep heel cracks
diabetic foot care
Diabetes, characterized by high blood sugar and obesity, often has a negative impact on the feet of diabetics. Those with diabetes often suffer from foot problems, foot infections, and even open sores or toe damage. Diabetics should regularly see a podiatrist or foot doctor to monitor their feet for infection or damage.
Also known as: foot care for diabetics, diabetes foot problems, foot problems associated with diabetes
Most people have foot arches that help absorb shock and keep the body in proper alignment. Some individuals with no arches, known as flat feet, experience foot pain, ankle pain, knee pain and even lower back pain. Flat feet may be treated using custom foot orthotics or other treatments that help support the foot.
Also known as: no arches, low arches, collapsed arches, flat foot pain
Fractures are breaks in the bone. Traumatic fractures of the feet occur as a direct result of an injury, while stress fractures in the feet occur over time and as a result of repeated minor trauma. Fractures often take weeks or months to heal, and may require the use of braces or casts depending on the severity of the fracture.
Also known as: stress fractures in feet, foot trauma, broken foot, foot fracture non-union
Gout can be hereditary, or caused by sudden weight loss, the use of diuretics, or increased uric acid in the body. Gout can be very painful, and should be addressed immediately by a foot care professional or medical doctor.
Also known as: hyperuricemia, elevated uric acid, foot gout
Hammertoes occur when the muscles of the toes become bent or crooked, forcing the toes to buckle under and making the toe joints jut out. Hammertoe can be very painful, and often requires surgery to correct the problem.
Heel spurs are bony growths on the bottom of the heel bone. Heel spurs are often caused by inflamed ligaments on the bottom of the foot that become irritated by the stress of the foot ligament. Heel spurs usually require removal by foot surgery.
Toenails that grow in toward the skin rather than straight out are known as ingrown toenails. If left to grow in the wrong direction, ingrown toenails will cut into the skin and cause pain and infection. Irritation, redness, swelling and pain are signs that a toenail is becoming ingrown. Ingrown toenails often occur when toenails are cut in a round shape, rather than straight across, or may occur if the toenail becomes damaged. Surgery may be needed to repair ingrown toenails.
Neuromas are swollen, irritated nerves in the ball of the foot. Most occur between the third and fourth toes, and can cause pain when walking. Neuromas may also present as a swelling between the toes that feels like a rock in a shoe, and may feel like a shooting electric pain.
Also known as: foot neuroma, foot pain, pain in the ball of the foot
Orthotics are foot care products that provide support and proper alignment for feet. Many orthotics are custom made and fit in shoes. These are supportive devices that help with pain in the bone and ligaments of feet and repair poor biomechanics in the foot.
Also known as: custom orthotics, orthotic inserts, foot orthotics, orthotic devices for shoes
Plantar fasciitis is when the ligament on the bottom of the foot that attaches to the heel bone becomes irritated. This can be a very painful condition that causes aching along the bottom of the foot, the heel and up the back of the calf.
Also known as: foot pain, heel pain, heel spur, plantar fascia pain
Most people’s feet sweat, but some individuals have excessive sweating of the feet. This can lead to foot odor, foot fungus, athlete’s foot and can be an embarrassing and damaging problem. Sweaty feet may be due to anemia, an overactive thyroid or other medical issue.
Toenail fungus infects the nail and nail beds, decaying the nail and causing it to become thick, deformed and often painful. Toenail fungus can spread from one toe to another, and may be a sign of a weak immune system or internal problems. Toenail fungus may occur from athlete’s foot, or when individuals wear dirty socks, or when feet are frequently wet or damp.
Also known as: nail fungus, foot fungus, toe fungus
ulcers on feet
Foot ulcers occur when the skin on the feet breaks down. This is often due to diabetes, low blood pressure, low circulation or other illnesses. If left untreated, foot ulcers can become infected and may even require the foot to be amputated.
Also known as: foot ulcers, ulcerated feet, foot sores
Read moreRead less