What comes to mind when you think of disease in your feet? It doesn’t have to mean infection or open, easily-visible sores. Many illnesses that affect your feet are more subtle than that. Some of these conditions are rare, though others, like arthritis, are quite common. They involve numerous structures in your feet and need different treatments to deal with the damage. They all, however, have one thing in common: discomfort.
Arthritis: This is inflammation and swelling in the cartilage that lines the bones in a joint. Frequently this is accompanied by an increase in fluid in the area. The pressure from the irritation makes the whole joint uncomfortable, especially when using it.
Cancer: Cancer can develop in any body structure. In your foot, however, it is most common for it to be found in the bones or the skin. The cancer may not be uncomfortable in the beginning, but may become so as it spreads and develops.
Charcot Foot: This is a severe condition that comes from untreated damage to the bones in the foot. Generally the problems are not noticed because neuropathy has deadened the nerves. The bones crack, collapse, and deform as a person continues walking on the injured foot. This can lead to disability and even amputation.
Freiberg’s Disease: A rare disease that results in the breakdown of the bone caps of the metatarsals, especially the second toe. The exact cause is uncertain, though repeated trauma to the ball of the foot seems to be related. This painful problem makes it difficult to walk normally.
Gout: Though the intense discomfort from gout comes on suddenly, the underlying issue—high levels of uric acid in the blood—usually has been building for some time. It most frequently attacks the big toe. The joints become red, swollen, and tender.
Kaposi’s Sarcoma (AIDS related): This cancerous condition results in unusual growths under the skin. Though these growths might normally develop quite slowly, in patients struggling with HIV/AIDS, the lesions grow quickly. On the feet they can make walking uncomfortable and difficult.
Kohler’s Disease: This rare condition typically affects children ages 5-10, though it can begin as young as age 2. It is a bone disorder that seems to result from abnormal compression, disrupting blood flow to the arch of the foot.
Maffucci’s Syndrome: Another rare condition of the bones. Believed to be present from birth, benign tumors of cartilage grow out from the bones. Though the cartilage deposits themselves are harmless, the condition can result in severe skeletal deformities. It is generally accompanied by an increase in blood vessels in the affected area.
Ollier’s Disease: This malady is very similar to Maffucci’s Syndrome, but doesn’t have the increased blood vessels. It also is believed to be present at birth, though symptoms don’t appear until later in childhood. Benign cartilage growths develop in the bones. Often the spots are replaced by hard bone tissue as the child grows. The uneven bone growth can make the area prone to fractures.
Raynaud’s Disease: A blood disorder that frequently affects the toes, it causes the vessels to constrict when a person is stressed, allowing the area to get very cold. In extreme cases the lack of blood flow can cause tissue damage.
Sever’s Disease: This bone disorder manifests as pain in the heel. It is a common culprit of heel pain in children, caused by the bones growing faster than the tendons attached to them. The tendons then pull more tightly on the bone and result in discomfort.
Many of these conditions are rare and have multiple treatment options to relieve and reduce pain. Without treatment, however, the discomfort not only continues, it can get much worse. Dr. Gerald Mauriello evaluates your feet and works with your individual needs to provide the best possible treatment to protect you from additional damage and allow you to continue your activities, pain-free! If you or someone you care about is experiencing pain in the feet or ankles, don’t ignore it and risk the problem getting worse. Contact us for an appointment or more information by calling our Belvidere or Hackettstown, New Jersey office at (908) 475-8750.