The Most Common Foot and Ankle Conditions
Since humans walk upright, we place a lot of pressure on our feet to perform. And the result can sometimes be damage to the feet and ankles. However, many common conditions and injuries are easy to avoid if you know about them in advance and you behave carefully. Here are just a few situations you’ll want to steer clear of where your feet and ankles are concerned.
- Sprains, strains, and fractures. Since all of our considerable body weight rests on our feet and ankles, and we rely on them to take us from here to there, it really should come as no surprise that sprains, strains, and broken bones are amongst the most common ailments affecting our feet and ankles. You don’t even have to play sports, jog, or engage in other potentially hazardous activities in order to suffer such mishaps. You could break a toe running into a table in the dark or slip on the stairs and sprain your ankle. You could drop a heavy object on your foot. There are all kinds of ways that these injuries can occur and the results are often debilitating, even if only temporarily.
- Athlete’s foot. The reason this foot fungus is commonly found amongst athletes is that it spreads most easily in warm, moist environments like locker rooms, which is why you should always wear flip-flops in the showers at your gym. You’ll know you have it if you start to notice persistent itching, burning, and stinging, most commonly between the toes. Luckily, it is easy to treat with a variety of over-the-counter remedies, although you may need to see a doctor if the situation worsens. Ongoing symptoms can include dry, flaky, and scaly skin, or even cracking and oozing in severe cases, and you can spread it to other body parts (most commonly hands) through scratching.
- Arthritis. There are three types of arthritis that commonly affect your feet: osteoarthritis, post-traumatic arthritis, and rheumatoid arthritis. The first two are generally caused by regular deterioration of cartilage and damage caused by injuries, respectively, so they could be localized to the foot and ankle region and may therefore have the best chance of treatment. Rheumatoid arthritis, on the other hand, affects your whole system. It is important to get diagnosed so that you understand the type of arthritis you have and how it may be treated.
- Frostbite. Most people who live in a cold climate know that the first parts of the body to get cold are exposed bits (your face, for example) and extremities, including hands and feet. It is your body’s natural defense to divert heat towards the internal organs as a survival mechanism, but this can leave your feet to fend for themselves. Frostbite can often be easily avoided by wearing appropriate cold-weather gear like winter boots and wool socks. But if you do suffer frostbite it’s imperative to get to a hospital as quickly as possible to begin repairing the damage and hopefully avoid the prospect of amputation.
- Plantar fasciitis. This condition occurs when the tissue in the arch of your foot becomes irritated and/or inflamed, possibly as a result of overuse, underuse, excess weight, or even the way you stand or the shoes you wear. And the results can range from discomfort to severe pain. You don’t need an expert from an advanced foot and ankle institute of Georgia to tell you that giving your feet a rest is a good way to ease pain, but at some point you may need to start a targeted regimen of stretching, buy special insoles, or even undergo surgery in extreme cases.