It’s tough to be at your best when your foot, heel or ankle is hurt or injured. Find answers—and relief—with our state-of-the-art podiatric foot and ankle care.

Relief from foot or ankle pain starts with the right diagnosis and treatment plan. Within The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center’s podiatry practice, you’ll find expert care backed by the research and education that happens only at a major academic medical center.

Here, you’ll find podiatric professionals who are board-certified orthopedic surgeons, and an Orthopaedic program named among the nation’s best.

Conditions We Treat

Bunions

A bunion forms when your big toe points toward the second toe. This causes a bump to appear on the inside edge of your toe.

Bunions are more common in women than men. The problem can run in families. People born with abnormal bones in their feet are more likely to form a bunion.

Wearing narrow-toed, high-heeled shoes may lead to the development of a bunion.

The condition may become painful as the bump gets worse. Extra bone and a fluid-filled sac grow at the base of the big toe.

Symptoms include:

  • Red, thickened skin along the inside edge of the big toe
  • A bony bump at this site
  • Pain over the joint, which pressure from shoes makes worse
  • Big toe turned toward the other toes and may cross over the second toe

Charcot Foot

Charcot foot is a condition causing weakening of the bones in the foot that can occur in people who have significant nerve damage (neuropathy). The bones are weakened enough to fracture, and with continued walking the foot eventually changes shape. As the disorder progresses, the joints collapse and the foot takes on an abnormal shape, such as a rocker-bottom appearance.

Charcot foot is a very serious condition that can lead to severe deformity, disability and even amputation. Because of its seriousness, it is important that patients with diabetes—a disease often associated with neuropathy—take preventive measures and seek immediate care if signs or symptoms appear.

People with neuropathy (especially those who have had it for a long time) are at risk for developing Charcot foot. In addition, neuropathic patients with a tight Achilles tendon have been shown to have a tendency to develop Charcot foot.

Symptoms of Charcot foot may include:

  • Warmth to the touch (the affected foot feels warmer than the other)
  • Redness in the foot
  • Swelling in the area
  • Pain or soreness

Flat Feet

Flat feet (pes planus) refers to a change in foot shape in which the foot does not have a normal arch when standing.

Flat feet are a common condition. The condition is normal in infants and toddlers. Flat feet occur because the tissues holding the joints in the foot together (called tendons) are loose. The tissues tighten and form an arch as children grow older. This will take place by the time the child is two or three years old. Most people have normal arches by the time they are adults. However, the arch may never form in some people.

Aging, injuries or illness may harm the tendons and cause flat feet to develop in a person who has already formed arches. This type of flat foot may occur only on one side. Rarely, painful flat feet in children may be caused by a condition in which two or more of the bones in the foot grow or fuse together. This condition is called tarsal coalition.

Most flat feet do not cause pain or other problems. Symptoms in adults may include tired or achy feet after long periods of standing or playing sports.


Fracture

A fracture is a break, usually in a bone. If the broken bone punctures the skin, it is called an open or compound fracture. Symptoms of a fracture are:

  • Out-of-place or misshapen limb or joint
  • Swelling, bruising or bleeding
  • Intense pain
  • Numbness and tingling
  • Limited mobility or inability to move a limb

You need to get medical care right away for any fracture. You may need to wear a cast or splint. Sometimes you need surgery to put in plates, pins or screws to keep the bone in place.


Hammertoes

Hammertoe is a bending of one or both joints of the second, third, fourth or fifth toes. This abnormal bending can put pressure on the toe when wearing shoes, causing problems to develop.

Hammertoes usually start out as mild deformities and get progressively worse over time. In the earlier stages, hammertoes are flexible and the symptoms can often be managed with noninvasive measures. But if left untreated, hammertoes can become more rigid and will not respond to non-surgical treatment. Because of the progressive nature of hammertoes, they should receive early attention. Hammertoes never get better without some kind of intervention.

The most common cause of hammertoe is a muscle/tendon imbalance. This imbalance, which leads to a bending of the toe, results from structural changes in the foot that occur over time in some people.

Hammertoes may be aggravated by shoes that don’t fit properly. A hammertoe may result if a toe is too long and is forced into a cramped position when a tight shoe is worn. Occasionally, hammertoe is the result of an earlier trauma to the toe. In some people, hammertoes are inherited.

Common symptoms of hammertoes include:

  • Pain or irritation of the affected toe when wearing shoes
  • Corns and calluses on the toe, between two toes or on the ball of the foot. Corns are caused by constant friction against the shoe. They may be soft or hard, depending upon their location.
  • Inflammation, redness or a burning sensation
  • In more severe cases of hammertoe, open sores may form

Source: American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons


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Morton's Neuroma

Morton’s neuroma is an injury to the nerve between the toes, which causes thickening and pain. It commonly affects the nerve that travels between the third and fourth toes.

Morton’s neuroma is more common in women than in men.

The exact cause is unknown. However, some experts believe the following may play a role in the development of this condition:

  • Abnormal positioning of toes
  • Flat feet
  • Forefoot problems, including bunions and hammertoes
  • High foot arches
  • Tight shoes and high heels

Symptoms of Morton's neuroma include:

  • Tingling in the space between the third and fourth toes
  • Toe cramping
  • Sharp, shooting, or burning pains in the ball of your foot (and sometimes toes)
  • Pain that increases when wearing shoes or pressing on the area
  • Pain that gets worse over time

In rare cases, nerve pain occurs in the space between the second and third toes. This is not a common form of Morton's neuroma, but treatment is similar.


Nail Deformities

Nail abnormalities are problems with the color, shape, texture or thickness of the fingernails or toenails.

Causes of nail deformities include:

  • Disease
  • Infection
  • Injury
  • Medication
  • Poison

Plantar Fasciitis

The plantar fascia is the thick tissue on the bottom of the foot. It connects the heel bone to the toes and creates the arch of the foot. When this tissue becomes swollen or inflamed, it is called plantar fasciitis.

Plantar fasciitis occurs when the thick band of tissue on the bottom of the foot is overstretched or overused. This can be painful and make walking more difficult.

You are more likely to get plantar fasciitis if you:

  • Have foot arch problems (both flat feet and high arches)
  • Run long distances, downhill or on uneven surfaces
  • Are obese or gain weight suddenly
  • Have a tight Achilles tendon (the tendon connecting the calf muscles to the heel)
  • Wear shoes with poor arch support or soft soles
  • Change your activities

Plantar fasciitis is seen in both men and women. However, it most often affects active men ages 40 - 70. It is one of the most common orthopedic foot complaints.

The most common symptom is pain and stiffness in the bottom of the heel. The heel pain may be dull or sharp. The bottom of the foot may also ache or burn.

The pain is often worse:

  • In the morning when you take your first steps
  • After standing or sitting for awhile
  • When climbing stairs
  • After intense activity

The pain may develop slowly over time, or come on suddenly after intense activity.


Plantar Warts

Warts are growths on your skin caused by an infection with humanpapilloma virus, or HPV. Plantar warts show up on the soles of your feet. If they hurt or bother you, or if they multiply, you can remove them. Chemical skin treatments usually work. If not, various freezing, surgical and laser treatments can remove warts.

Tendon and Ligament Damage

Feet and ankles are especially vulnerable to everyday injuries that can cause damage to tendons and ligaments.

Tendons and ligaments are the soft tissues that support the joints and connect one bone to another.

Soft-tissue injuries include:

  • Bursitis
  • Contusions
  • Sprains
  • Strains
  • Stress injuries
  • Tendonitis

Any of these can happen as a result of an acute event, such as a fall, a sudden twist, direct blow or repetitive use.

While it may be tempting to self-treat this type of pain, injuries to the ligaments and tendons require proper diagnosis, treatment and sometimes prolonged healing.


Diagnosis

When you come to one of our clinics, you’ll meet with one of our podiatric physicians and undergo a physical exam and thorough medical history. If necessary, your doctor will order on-site X-rays of your foot or ankle. Using these findings, your treating physician will assess your condition and develop a personalized treatment plan. Your treatment plan may include non-surgical treatment options or therapies, outpatient surgery or referral to one of our other orthopedic specialists.

Treatments

Your doctor will develop a personalized treatment plan based on your condition, medical history and imaging studies. Our podiatric specialists typically start with conservative, non-surgical treatments, including:

  • Braces to properly position foot and ankle joints

  • Cast boots to immobilize the foot or ankle for healing

  • Custom-molded orthotics to correct irregularities in gait

  • Physical therapy to exercise, train or rehabilitate foot or ankle

  • Special shoes to prevent wounds, infection or friction

If conservative treatment is not an option or has previously failed, we offer progressive surgical treatment options, including:

  • Bunionectomy to remove a piece of bone and realign the toe to correct the deformity

  • Surgical removal of spurs to get rid of the bony, abnormal prominence found on the inside of the foot near the big toe

  • Foot and ankle reconstruction to correct complex deformities

  • Open reduction internal fixation of fractures (ORIF) to set bones and facilitate healing

  • Osteotomy, which is surgically cutting the bone to alter it in some way, such as shortening, or to correct bone alignment

  • Plantar fascia release to relieve tension and inflammation of the plantar fascia ligament

  • Tendon repair to surgically treat, repair or re-attach a torn or damaged tendon

Why Choose Ohio State?

Why choose Ohio State for foot pain?

Why choose Ohio State for foot pain?

Comprehensive Care: Our Podiatric specialists are board-certified foot and ankle surgeons, who work to determine the best solution for ailments affecting the foot. We treat a wide variety of foot and lower extremity conditions in a personalized care setting.

Diagnostic Expertise: U.S.News & World Report ranks us among its best, naming our Orthopaedic program a high-performing specialty.

Education: Our podiatric specialists are active educators and national lecturers, helping train the next generation of podiatric professionals.

Our Doctors

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