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Our feet are made up of 26 bones and more than 33 joints arranged in columns and arches that vary in stiffness and flexibility. The foot is usually separated into three different parts:
- The back of your foot (hindfoot) is made up of your heel bone (calcaneus) and your ankle (talus). They’re joined together by your subtalar joint, which allows your foot to move from side to side. Your ankle bone is joined to your leg bones (tibia and fibula) at your ankle joint, which acts like a hinge. This allows your foot to bend up and down.
- The middle of your foot (midfoot) is made up of five tarsal bones. These form the arch of your foot. Your tarsal bones are connected to the front and back of your foot by muscles and the arch ligament (the plantar fascia). They act as shock absorbers when we’re walking or running.
- The front of your foot (forefoot) is made up of your toe bones (phalanges), which are connected to five long bones (metatarsals) by joints. The joints in your toes don’t move very much. Your forefoot takes half of your body’s weight.
The muscles in your lower leg are attached to bones in your feet by tendons, and they control movement that allows us to stand, walk, go on tiptoes and jump. These muscles move your toes and control the position of your foot as it hits the ground, allowing it to become flexible and cushioning the impact. They also make the arches of your feet more rigid to push your body forward when you move.
Your heel bone is connected to the calf muscles in your lower leg by your Achilles tendon, which is the most important tendon for movement. The tibialis posterior tendon, which attaches the underside of your foot to your lower leg, helps supports the arch of your foot and allows you to turn it inward.
The main nerve of your foot controls the muscles in your sole and gives feeling here and to your toes. Other nerves give feeling to the top and outside edge of your foot.
Foot and Ankle Treatments
When issues arise in the foot and ankle, it may be necessary to see a specialist. For some conditions, a foot and ankle specialist will first try to resolve the problem with nonsurgical treatments, such as a course of physical therapy. When nonsurgical foot and ankle pain treatments aren’t enough, your doctor may recommend surgery to relieve pain. Surgery is also necessary to correct physical problems with any of the foot or ankle structures. The general treatment goals are to improve ankle or foot function, reduce disability, and improve your quality of life. Below are lists of both nonsurgical and surgical treatments.
Common Podiatry Services
- Ingrown Toenails
- Plantar Fasciitis
- Pain in the ball of the foot
Common Foot and Ankle Treatments
- Ankle arthroscopy is a minimally invasive surgical method of diagnosing and treating many ankle symptoms and problems from torn or weak ligaments to fractures.
- Ankle replacement surgery removes a diseased or damaged joint and replaces it with an artificial joint.
- Foot and ankle fracture and dislocation treatment may be necessary when a bone in the ankle is dislocated out of place or part of the bone has broken off.
- Foot and ankle ligament and tendon reconstruction including Achilles tendon surgery repairs or reconstructs torn or weak ligaments.
Surgical Foot and Ankle Treatments
- Acute injuries including fractures, dislocations, torn cartilage, and ligament or tendon tears
- Bone spurs
- Degenerative joint disease including arthritis
- Inflammatory forms of arthritis including rheumatoid arthritis and psoriatic arthritis
- Overuse injuries including plantar fasciitis
- Synovitis, which is inflammation of the lining of the joint
- Unexplained ankle or foot symptoms including pain; foot and ankle swelling; and joint locking, catching or grinding
At Iowa Specialty Hospitals & Clinics, our foot and ankle specialists have years of training, education, and practice. They are experts in their field and are focused on providing the best treatment for each patient's individual situation. If you are experiencing foot or ankle issues, please schedule an appointment now to work with our specialists to restore your foot health.