Foot Pain Management

Foot Terminology

The following resources contain terminology when referring to treatments, education, surgery and medically related information pertaining to the feet.


The arch of the foot is the area of the bottom of the foot between the heel pad and toe pad.

Acrokeratosis verruciformis

A hereditary dermatosis characterized by the presence of numerous flat wart-like papules on the dorsal aspect of the hand, foot, elbow, and knee.


The part of the leg just above the foot; the joint between the leg and the foot. It is a hinge joint formed by the junction of the tibia and fibula with the talus, or ankle bone. The bones are cushioned by cartilage and connected by a number of ligaments, tendons, and muscles that strengthen the joint and enable it to be moved. Because it is in almost constant use, the ankle is particularly susceptible to injuries, such as sprain and fracture. It is also often one of the first joints to be affected by arthritis or gout.

Ankle clonus

A series of abnormal reflex movements of the foot, induced by sudden dorsiflexion, causing alternate contraction and relaxation of the triceps surae muscle.

Athlete`s foot

A fungal infection of the skin of the foot; called also tinea pedis. It causes itching and often blisters and cracks, usually between the toes. Causative agents are Candida albicans, Epidermophyton floccosum, and species of Trichophyton, which thrive on warmth and dampness. If not arrested, it can cause a rash and itching in other parts of the body as well. It is likely to be recurrent, since the fungus survives under the toenails and reappears when conditions are favorable. Although Athlete`s foot is usually little more than an uncomfortable nuisance, its open sores provide excellent sites for more serious infections. Early treatment and health care supervision insure correct diagnosis and prevention of complications. Specific diagnosis is made by microscopic examination or culture of skin scrapings for the fungus.

Babinski reflex

A reflex action of the toes, normal during infancy but abnormal after 12 to 18 months of age, or when locomotion begins; after this, it is indicative of abnormalities in the motor control pathways leading from the cerebral cortex and is widely used as a diagnostic aid in disorders of the central nervous system. It is elicited by a firm stimulus (usually scraping) on the sole of the foot, which results in dorsiflexion of the great toe and fanning of the smaller toes. Normally such a stimulus causes all the toes to bend downward. Called also Babinski`s sign.

Bock-Greissinger foot

A prosthetic foot that allows ankle motion.


An abnormal prominence on the inner aspect of the first metatarsal head, with bursal formation, and resulting in lateral or valgus displacement of the great toe. Bunions can be caused by congenital malformation of the bony structure of the foot or by joint disease such as rheumatoid arthritis and are aggravated by wearing high-heeled shoes with pointed toes. When the shoes do not fit properly they force the great toe toward the outer side of the foot. The result is continued pressure on the joint where the great toe articulates with the first metatarsal head. Chronic irritation causes a build-up of soft tissue and underlying bone in the area. Symptoms are swelling, redness, and pain. Mild cases can be relieved by changing to properly fitting shoes. If there is severe pain making ambulation difficult or impossible, anti-inflammatory agents may be effective. Surgical correction (bunionectomy) is indicated when all other measures fail.


The hindmost part of the foot; the heel.


Affecting the wrist and foot.


A burning pain often associated with trophic skin changes in the hand or foot, caused by peripheral nerve injury. The syndrome may be aggravated by the slightest stimuli or it may be intensified by the emotions. Causalgia usually begins several weeks after the initial injury and the pain is described as intense, with patients sometimes taking elaborate precautions to avoid any stimulus they know to be capable of causing a flare-up of symptoms. They often will go to great extremes to protect the affected limb and become preoccupied with such protection. Any one of a variety of injuries to the hand, foot, arm, or leg can lead to causalgia, but in most cases there has been some injury to the median or the sciatic nerve. Injections of a local anesthetic at the painful site may bring relief. Sympathectomy may be necessary to eliminate the severe pain, and in the majority of cases it is quite successful. Psychotherapy may be necessary when emotional instability is suspected. Emotional problems may have been present before the initial injury, or they may result from the intense suffering characteristic of severe causalgia.

Chopart`s amputation

Amputation of the foot, with the calcaneus, talus, and other parts of the tarsus being retained.


A high-arched foot with the toes hyperextended at the metatarsophalangeal joint and flexed at the distal joints.


Deformity in which the foot is twisted out of normal position; called also talipes. The foot may have an abnormally high longitudinal arch (talipes cavus) or it may be in dorsiflexion (talipes calcaneus) or plantar flexion (talipes equinus), abducted, everted (talipes valgus), adducted, inverted (talipes varus), or various combinations of these (talipes calcaneovalgus, talipes calcaneovarus, talipes equinovalgus, or talipes equinovarus). There are several theories as to the cause of clubfoot. A familial tendency or arrested growth during fetal life may contribute to its development, or it may be caused by a defect in the ovum. It sometimes accompanies meningomyelocele as a result of paralysis. In mild clubfoot there are slight changes in the structure of the foot; more severe cases involve orthopedic deformities of both the foot and leg. Although clubfoot is usually congenital, an occasional case in an older child may be caused by injury or poliomyelitis.

Cristae cutis

Ridges of the skin produced by the projecting papillae of the corium on the palm of the hand and sole of the foot, producing a fingerprint and footprint characteristic of the individual; called also dermal ridges.


Swelling of the lower leg and foot, covering all but the sole of the foot.


Wedge-shaped bone; applied particularly to three of the bones in the tarsus of the foot.

Dermal ridges

Wedge-shaped bone; applied particularly to three of the bones in the tarsus of the foot.


The preferential use, in voluntary motor acts, of the right member of the major paired organs of the body, as the right eye, hand, or foot.


the presence of only two digits on a hand or foot.

Digital ray

A digit of the hand or foot and corresponding metacarpal or metatarsal bone, regarded as a continuous unit.

Dorsalis pedis pulse

The pulse felt on the top of the foot, between the first and second metatarsal bones. In 8 to 10 per cent of the population this pulse cannot be detected.


A genus of fungi. E. flocco sum attacks both skin and nails but not hair, and is one of the causative organisms of tinea cruris, tinea pedis (Athlete`s foot), and onychomycosis.


A condition in which one or more arches of the foot have flattened out.


  • A contracture deformity associated with bed rest and immobility, resulting in the inability to place the heel on the ground.
  • Dropping of the foot from paralysis of the anterior muscles of the leg.


The front part of the foot.


A general term for a group of eukaryotic organisms (mushrooms, yeasts, molds, etc.) marked by the absence of chlorophyll, the presence of a rigid cell wall in some stage of the life cycle, and reproduction by means of spores. Fungi are present in the soil, air, and water, but only a few species can cause disease. Among the fungal diseases (mycoses) are “histoplasmosis, coccidioidomycosis, ringworm, histoplasmosis, coccidioidomycosis, ringworm, Athlete`s foot, and thrush. Although the fungal diseases develop slowly, are difficult to diagnose, and are resistant to treatment, they are rarely fatal except for systemic mycotic infections, which can be life-threatening, especially for immunocompromised patients.

Gait analysis

Evaluation of the manner or style of walking, usually done by observing the individual as he walks naturally in a straight line.

Gibney boot

An adhesive tape support used in treatment of sprains and other painful conditions of the ankle, the tape being applied in a basket-weave fashion with strips placed alternately under the sole of the foot and around the back of the leg.

Grasp reflex

Flexion or clenching of the fingers or toes on stimulation of the palm of the hand or sole of the foot.

Hallux valgus

Angulation of the great toe toward the other toes of the foot.

Hallux varus

Angulation of the great toe away from the other toes of the foot.

Hand foot and Mouth disease

A mild, highly infectious viral disease of children, with vesicular lesions in the mouth and on the hands and feet.


The hindmost part of the foot; called also calx. By extension, a part comparable to the heel of the foot, or the hindmost portion of an elongate structure.

Hey`s amputation

Amputation of the foot between the tarsus and metatarsus.


The posterior portion of the foot, comprising the region of the talus and calcaneus.


The presence of supernumerary digits on the hand or foot.


An autosomal dominant skin disorder, usually occurring in the third or fourth decade of life, characterized by pink or reddish or yellowish brown hyperkeratotic scaly papules on the lower leg and dorsum of the foot, sometimes involving the trunk, thigh, arm, back and palm of the hand, and sole of the foot.


Less than the usual number of digits on the hand or foot.

Immersion foot

A condition resembling trench foot occurring in persons who have spent long periods in water.


The dorsal part of the arch of the foot.

Intermittent double-step gait

A Hemiplegic gait in which there is a pause after the short step of the normal foot, or in some cases after the step of the affected foot.

Lisfranc`s amputation

Amputation of the foot between the metatarsus and tarsus.

Madura foot

Mycetoma of the foot.

March foot

Painful swelling of the foot, usually with fracture of a metatarsal bone, after excessive foot strain.

Mendel-Bechterew reflex

Dorsal flexion of the second to fifth toes on percussion of the dorsum of the foot; in certain organic nervous disorders, plantar flexion occurs.


The part of the foot between the ankle and the toes, its skeleton being the five bones (metatarsals) extending from the tarsus to the phalanges.


A topical antifungal agent available in two formulations: one for dermatophytic infections such as Athlete`s foot, and the other for vulvovaginal candidiasis.


The presence of only one finger or toe on a hand or foot.

Morton`s neuralgia

Pain in the metatarsus of the foot.

Morton`s toe

Tenderness or Pain in the metatarsal area of the foot and in the third and fourth toes caused by pressure on a neuroma of the branch of the medial plantar nerve supplying these toes. The neuroma is produced by chronic compression of the nerve between the metatarsal heads. Called also plantar neuroma and Morton`s disease, foot, or neuralgia.


A chronic, slowly progressing bacterial or fungal infection usually of the foot or leg, characterized by nodules that discharge an oily pus.


Pertaining to the foot or feet.


The design, manufacture, fitting, and modification of shoes and related foot appliances as prescribed for the amelioration of painful or disabling conditions of the foot and leg.

Pes abductus

A deformity in which the anterior part of the foot is displaced and lies laterally to the vertical axis of the leg.

Pes cavus

A foot with an abnormally high longitudinal arch, either congenital or caused by contractures or disturbed muscle balance.

Planta pedis

The bottom of the foot; called also sole.


Pain in the sole of the foot.

Plantar reflex

Plantar flexion of the foot when the ankle is grasped firmly and the lateral border of the sole is stroked or scratched from the heel toward the toes.

Plantar space

A fascial space on the sole of the foot, divided by septa into the lateral, middle, and median plantar spaces.

Plantar wart

A viral epidermal tumor on the sole of the foot, sometimes the result of going barefoot; unlike other warts, this type is usually sensitive to pressure and may be painful during walking. Called also verruca plantaris.


Walking or running flat on the full sole of the foot; characteristic of humans and of such quadrupeds as the bear.


The specialized field dealing with the study and care of the foot, including its anatomy, pathology, medical and surgical treatment, etc.


Neuralgic pain of the heel and sole; burning pain without redness in the sole of the foot.


A supernumerary bone of the foot growing from the medial border of the scaphoid.


The act of assuming the prone position, or the state of being prone. Applied to the hand, turning the palm backward (posteriorly) or downward, performed by medial rotation of the forearm. Applied to the foot, a combination of eversion and abduction movements taking place in the tarsal and metatarsal joints and resulting in lowering of the medial margin of the foot, hence of the longitudinal arch.

Sach foot

A prosthetic foot with a solid ankle and a cushion heel.

Safe Foot

A prosthetic foot with a stationary attachment and a flexible endoskeleton.


Using the left foot in preference to the right.


Flatfoot; talipes valgus.


The act of turning the palm forward or upward, or of raising the medial margin of the foot.

Syme`s amputation

Disarticulation of the foot with removal of both malleoli. tarsal bones of the foot.

Tarsal tunnel syndrome

A complex of symptoms resulting from compression of the posterior tibial nerve or of the plantar nerves in the tarsal tunnel, with pain, numbness, and tingling paresthesia of the sole of the foot.


Surgical fracture of the tarsus of the foot.


The seven bones composing the articulation between the foot and leg, including the talus, calcaneus, navicular bone, cuboid bone, and medial, intermediate, and lateral cuneiform bones.


The presence of four digits on the hand or foot.

Thomas heel

A Shoe correction consisting of a heel one half inch longer and an eighth to a sixth of an inch higher on the inside; used to bring the heel of the foot into varus and to prevent depression in the region of the head of the talus.

Trench foot

A condition of the feet resembling “frostbite, ” frostbite, due to the prolonged action of water on the skin combined with circulatory disturbance due to cold and inaction.


The presence of only three digits on the hand or foot.

Tripier`s amputation

Amputation of the foot through the calcaneus.

Two-point gait

That in which the right foot and left “crutch” crutch or cane are advanced together, and then the left foot and right crutch.

Volkmann`s contracture

Contraction of the fingers and sometimes of the wrist, or of analogous parts of the foot, with loss of power, after severe injury or improper use of a tourniquet or cast in the region of the elbow.

Volkmann`s disease

Congenital deformity of the foot due to tibiotarsal dislocation.


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