The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine

5 Most Common Foot Problems Explained: Heel Pain, Pinched Nerves, Bunions, and More

Posted by on Friday, November 1st, 2013

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Many things can go wrong with the 26 bones, 33 joints and 100+ connective tissues in the foot. Yet, there are certain conditions we see more than others. Heel pain, pinched nerves, bunions, ingrown nails, and infections are so commonplace that it’s estimated 80% of Americans will see a podiatrist for at least one of these foot problems at some point.

foot problems
Image Source: UtahFoot.com

Heel Pain

Heel pain occurs when the plantar fascia ligament that supports the heel and the arch tears. It’s often caused by too much stress placed on the heel bone — either through improper footwear, too much time on your feet, repetitive impact, or weakened calf muscles.

To treat this pain, podiatrists focus on relieving heel tension and reducing inflammation. Conservative treatments include: changing shoes, stretches, physical therapy, custom orthotics, over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications, rest and cortisone injections.

Here at The Podiatric Center for Podiatric Care & Sports Medicine, we also offer Extracorporeal Shock Wave Therapy, which uses high-intensity sound waves to prompt faster tissue healing, for patients who have not responded to traditional treatments. Thanks to this innovative treatment, the need for surgery has been reduced by about 90%.

plantar fasciitis
Image Source: Visual.ly

Pinched Nerves

A pinched nerve (or neuroma) is a non-cancerous growth of tissue occurring between the second and third or third and fourth toes. Symptoms include: sharp pain, burning, tingling, numbness in the toes and balls of the feet. The pain is most persistent while walking and may stop with a foot rub. Usually, neuromas are caused by mechanical imbalance and genetic bone structure.

Treatment for neuromas may include anti-inflammatory medication, activity modification, orthotics, adding padding to quality footwear and alcohol injections to shrink the neuroma. At worst case scenario, a neuroma may be surgically removed during a 15-minute office procedure, with very minimal recovery time required.

Bunions

Bunions appear as bony protrusions at the base of the big toe that jut outward and cause the foot to widen. The big toe usually starts to lean toward the second toe. Over time, the bunion can become arthritis and lose mobility in the joint. This hereditary condition is exacerbated by improper footwear. Symptoms of bunions include redness, pain and inflammation.

Treatment begins with a modification of shoes and activities. Orthotics, anti-inflammatory medication, special padding and physical therapy are first-line treatments. If these options fail, surgery to restore alignment may be needed. New techniques used at our NYC podiatrist office enable patients to bounce back much quicker, with minimal pain. Most patients return to work within four days and return to regular shoes again in three weeks.

Ingrown Nails

Usually, healthy nails grow upward and outward until they become so long we must cut them. Yet, sometimes, the nail digs into soft toe tissue, causing pain, redness, warmth and infection. This may occur due to a genetic predisposition, an underlying medical condition like diabetes, from improperly cutting the nail, from shoe pressure, or from an acute injury. If left untreated, the nail plate can loosen and infection may occur.

Podiatrists treat ingrown nails by cutting away the offending nail. This minor surgical procedure is usually done under local anesthesia. The nail may be destroyed using chemicals, lasers or tools. Often, patients are done in less than 30 minutes, the toe is bandaged, and they immediately return to work with minimal discomfort.

Infections

Infections can be caused by bacteria, fungus or viruses. The most common infection we see is fungal toenail infections caused when a person comes into contact with dermatophytes. They can be picked up from locker room floors, showers, day spas or other warm, damp, dark environments. People may be genetically predisposed to infection and certain demographics — diabetics and immune compromised patients, for instance — may also be likelier to come down with an infection.

Treatment may involve oral antifungal pills, topical treatments or painless laser therapy. At our NYC office, we offer the PinPointe Footlaser, which has no side effects and penetrates the nail bed to allow new healthy nail to grow.

The Bottom Line on Foot Problems:

You shouldn’t have to suffer with chronic foot pain. Call a Manhattan podiatrist to ease your suffering today!

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If you have any foot problems or pain, contact The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports MedicineDr. Josef J. GeldwertDr. Katherine Lai, Dr. Ryan Minara and Dr. Mariola Rivera have helped thousands of people get back on their feet. Unfortunately, we cannot give diagnoses or treatment advice online. Please make an appointment to see us if you live in the NY metropolitan area or seek out a podiatrist in your area.