Foot and ankle problems can range from minor complaints like ingrowing toenail, through to more serious conditions like osteoarthritis and toe deformities.
Among the factors that can cause damage to the bones, joints or soft tissues of the foot and ankle are old age, wear and tear, injury, trauma, and lifestyle. Athletes are particularly prone to sporting injuries, such as fractures or Achilles tendon ruptures, which often occur as a result of jumping or running.
Common foot and ankle conditions
Our specialist consultants treat all types of conditions affecting the foot and ankle, including:
Achilles tendon problems
Overuse injuries of the Achilles tendon – which connects the calf muscles at the back of the leg to your heel bone – are often linked to running and sport.
Ankle sprain and instability
A sprained ankle occurs when the outer side of the ankle gives way, normally during walking or running. Repeated sprains can lead to chronic ankle instability.
Ankle arthritis is caused by the breakdown of cartilage in the ankle joint, leading to pain, stiffness and swelling when walking or exercising. It is a degenerative condition which means it worsens over time.
These are bony bumps that form on the joint at the base of the big toe. They are caused by the bones in the foot being pushed out of position, sometimes due to injuries but also as a result of genetics or deformities from birth.
Rather than having a naturally arched shape, in some people the foot is flattened so the entire sole is in contact with the floor. This can alter the alignment of the legs, contributing to ankle and knee problems.
There can be different causes of foot and toe pain, including fractures, ingrowing toenails, chilblains, gout, sprains and tendonitis. Getting an accurate diagnosis is vital to determine the best type of treatment.
Ganglions, cysts & nodules
A ganglion cyst is a fluid-filled swelling that develops near a joint or a tendon. Sometimes they can become very large and painful. A nodule is a benign lump that grows in the arch of the foot, often thought to be genetic.
Heel pain (plantar fasciitis)
Plantar fasciitis is caused by straining the area of your foot that connects you heel bone to your toes. It may be linked to certain types of footwear, exercise or being overweight.
This is pain in the ball of your foot which may be due to over-exercising or wearing shoes that are too tight. It can also be the result of foot deformity, such as hammer toes or high arches.
This is irritation or damage to a nerve in your foot between your 3rd and 4th toes. It causes a sensation like having a small stone stuck under your foot, or a stabbing or burning pain, or sometimes numbness.
These affect the smooth surface on the ends of bones which may become cracked or small pieces may break off. Such injuries cause pain during weight-bearing activities.
Posterior ankle impingement
This is pain at the back of the ankle caused by compression of the bone or soft tissue during certain ankle movements. It is common among ballet dancers, gymnasts and footballers.
Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune condition that can affect joints throughout the body. It often begins in the small joints of the feet and hands causing pain, swelling and stiffness.
Sports injuries and trauma (broken bones, sprains, tendon injuries)
Foot and ankle injuries are commonly associated with sports. They may include sprains, strains, fractures, Achilles injuries, plantar fasciitis and heel spurs.
These can be present from birth or occur later in life due to wearing certain types of footwear. They may also be associated with diseases like diabetes and arthritis as well as strokes.