Common Foot Care Disorders

Common Foot Care Disorders

While there are over 300 foot disorders, these are the most common. The most important thing to remember is that early treatment can save a lot of pain and expense. Below are short descriptions of the most common problems we treat.For more extensive information, you can go to the American Podiatric Medical Association web site at

Athlete’s Foot

Athlete’s foot is a skin disease caused by a fungus, usually occurring between the toes. The fungus most commonly attacks the feet because shoes create a warm, dark, and humid environment which encourages fungus growth. Areas around swimming pools, showers, and locker rooms, are also breeding grounds for fungi. The signs of athlete’s foot, singly or combined, are drying skin, itching scaling, inflammation, and blisters. Blisters often lead to cracking of the skin. When blisters break, small raw areas of tissue are exposed, causing pain and swelling. Itching and burning may increase as the infection spreads. Athlete’s foot may spread to the soles of the feet and to the toenails. It can also spread to other parts of the body, notably the groin and underarms.

Bone Spurs

A bone spur is an overgrowth of bone as a result of trauma or reactive stress of a ligament or tendon. This causes pain and even restricts motion of a joint, depending on its location and size. Spurs may also be located under the toenail plate, causing nail deformity and pain. Treatment is surgical treatment.


A bunion is an enlargement of the joint at the base of the big toe—the metatarsophalangeal (MTP) joint—that forms when the bone or tissue at the big toe joint moves out of place. This forces the toe to bend toward the others, causing an often painful lump of bone on the foot. Since this joint carries a lot of the body’s weight while walking, bunions can cause extreme pain if left untreated and may make wearing shoes difficult or impossible.


This is an inflammation of the bursa, a sac of tissue that protects bony prominences. It is typically treated with conservative measures.


A callous is a build-up of dead skin cells, usually on the sole of the foot. They are typically painful and caused by pressure on bony prominences. They may be pared down for temporary relief and we offer other measures for long-term treatment.


A corn is a thickening of the skin on bony prominences, always on the toe. They can be treated or removed with surgery.

Forefront Surgery

Many foot problems do not respond to “conservative” management. Often when pain or deformity persists, forefront surgery may be the most appropriate method for alleviation.

Fungal Nails

Fungal Nails,  caused by various types of fungi, is an infection of the bed and plate underlying the surface of the nail.  Here, the  nail may become thicker, yellowish-brown or darker in color, and foul smelling. The infection is capable of spreading to other toenails, the skin, or even fingernails. The toenails are especially vulnerable around damp areas like swimming pools, locker rooms, and showers.  Those who suffer chronic diseases, such as diabetes, circulatory problems, or immune-deficiency conditions, are especially prone to fungal nails.


Gout is an extremely painful condition caused by a build-up of uric acid, affects joints in the body and often the big toe joint. We usually treat it with steroids.


A hammertoe deformity is a contracture of the toe(s), frequently caused by an imbalance in the tendon or joints of the toes. Due to the “buckling” effect of the toe(s), hammertoes may become painful . Corn and callus formation may occur as a hammertoe becomes more rigid over time, making it difficult to wear shoes. We may correct this via a surgical procedure to realign the toe(s).

Heel Pain

Heel pain is generally the result of faulty biomechanics (walking gait abnormalities) that stress the heel bone and the soft tissues that attach to it. The stress may also result from injury  incurred while walking, running, or jumping on hard surfaces; wearing poorly constructed footwear; or being overweight. The heel bone is the largest of the 26 bones in the human foot, which also has 33 joints and a network of more than 100 tendons, muscles, and ligaments.

Ingrown Toenails

Ingrown nails, the most common nail impairment, are nails whose corners or sides dig painfully into soft tissue , often leading to irritation, redness, and swelling. The big toe is usually the victim of this condition, but other toes can also become affected. Ingrown toenail may be caused by improperly trimmed nails, heredity, shoe pressure, or repeated trauma to the feet from normal activities.

Nail Problems

Toenails often serve as barometers of our health; they are diagnostic tools providing the initial signal of the presence or onset of systemic diseases. For example, the pitting of nails and increased nail thickness can be manifestations of psoriasis. Concavity—nails that are rounded inward instead of outward—can foretell iron deficiency anemia. Some nail problems can be treated with topical or oral medications while others require partial or total removal of the nail. Any discoloration or infection should be evaluated.


An irritation of a nerve may produce a neuroma, a benign enlargement of a nerve segment, commonly found between the third and fourth toes. Trauma, arthritis, high-heeled shoes, or an abnormal bone structure are just some of the conditions that may cause a neuroma. Symptoms such as burning or tingling to adjacent toes and even numbness are common with this condition. If conservative treatment does not relieve the symptoms, then surgical treatment may be appropriate.


Orthotics are custom-made shoe inserts, prescribed by a podiatrist, made to accommodate a foot deformity. They improve foot function.


Tendonitis is an inflammation of the tendon (the end of the muscle that attaches to the bone). It can be painful and is treated with rest and ice packs. Occasionally, cortical steroid injections may be necessary.


Warts are a soft tissue condition that can be quite painful. Caused by a virus that generally invades the skin through small or invisible cuts and abrasions. They can appear anywhere on the foot. Technically, only those on the sole are properly called plantar warts. They are often mistaken for corns or calluses (layers of dead skin that build up to protect an area that is being continuously irritated). The wart, however, is a viral infection.


About: Dr. Shuman provides podiatry services from our offices in Sterling, Va.  Shuman Podiatry offers custom orthotics, diabetic foot care, heel pain and spurs, wart removal and more.  Contact Dr. Shuman today for all your foot care needs.