Glossary of Podiatry Terms

  • Abduction
    • Movement of the foot away from the mid-line of the body.
  • Abscess
    • Collection of liquified tissue (pus) within the skin layer.
  • Achilles tendinitis
    • Inflammation of Achilles tendon, causing pain in the back of the heel.
  • Adduction
    • Movement of the foot toward the mid-line of the body.
  • Adhesion
    • A band of contracted scar tissue that binds two parts of tissue or organs together.
  • Ankle braces
    • A brace worn to strengthen/stabilize the ankle.
  • Ankle instability
    • A condition caused by the ligaments of the ankle being overstretched which can predispose the patient to frequent ankle sprains or falling.
  • Ankle sprain
    • A condition usually associated with trauma, where the ankle ligaments are overstretched or torn from excessive force, causing instability, swelling and pain.
  • Apophysitis
    • Irritation and inflammation of a growth plate in the bone.
  • Arthritis
    • An set of degenerative diseases that cause inflammation within a joint (See Osteoarthritis, Gouty arthritis, Rheumatoid arthritis).
  • Athlete’s foot
    • A fungal infection on the skin of the feet.  Also known as Tinea pedis.
  • Benign neoplasm
    • A non-cancerous tumor, or growth of a tissue.
  • Blister
    • Fluid-filled skin lesion caused by friction or rubbing of skin.
  • Bone spur
    • Arthritic bony changes that increases bone mass.
  • Broken bone
    • Fracture of bone.
  • Bunion
    • An enlargement of the large toe joint often associated with pain. Also known as hallux valgus.
  • Bunionette
    • Lateral “bump” on the 5th metatarsal bone at base of 5th toe.  Also known as a Tailor’s bunion.
  • Burn
    • An injury caused by exposure to heat or flame.
  • Bursitis
    • Painful inflammation of bursae (sac subject to friction).
  • Calcaneus
    • Heel bone
  • Calluses
    • A diffuse thickening of the outer layer of skin usually found on the bottom of the foot, caused by sheering pressures.
  • Capsulitis
    • Inflammation of the soft tissue surrounding a joint.
  • Cellulitis
    • Cellulitis is a bacterial infection involving the skin, which can be red, hot, and swollen.
  • Charcot foot
    • This condition, most often occurs as a complication of long-term diabetes, is a progressive degenerative condition that affects the foot. It is characterized by nerve damage in the foot along with severely weakened foot bones that can lead to debilitating foot deformity
  • Children’s foot problems
    • (See warts, ingrown toenails, flatfeet, Severe’s disease, and metatarsus adductus).
  • Clawtoe
    • A deformity that typically affects one or more of the small toes characterized by bending at the two toe joints, which give the appearance of a claw or talon.
  • Compression stockings
    • Elastic stockings designed to treat swollen legs and ankles by compressing incompetent distended veins.
  • Contracted toe
    • Description of a bent toe caused by the excessive pulling (contraction) of tendons.
  • Contusion
    • A traumatic flesh injury (bruise) which does not break the skin.
  • Corns
    • A pinpoint thickening of the outer layer of skin caused by friction that is usually found on the tops of  toes or directly beneath a bone.
  • Crush injury
    • An injury caused by extreme pressure from a heavy object pressing on a body part where bruising, bleeding, broken bones, nerve damage, tissue and muscle damage,  or circulation damage can occur.
  • CVI study
    • A study that assesses the integrity of the veins of the foot.
  • Cyst
    • Soft tissue mass.
  • Dermatitis
    • Inflammation of the skin associated with a rash that can be itchy, red, and swollen.
  • Diabetes
    • Systemic condition associated with elevated blood sugar levels.
  • Diabetic foot care
    • Preventative routine foot care designed to avoid foot complications in patients with diabetes.
  • Diabetic neuropathy
    • Nerve damage that occurs as a complication of diabetes where patients experience abnormal nerve sensation (usually diminished sensation of touch, temperature and pain).
  • Diabetic shoes
    • Protective shoe gear specifically designed to fit the needs of a diabetic patient.
  • Diabetic socks
    • Non-binding and non-elasticated stockings designed so as to not constrict the foot or leg.
  • Diabetic ulcer
    • A major complication of diabetes characterized by a hole in the skin that can be a portal for infection.
  • Diagnostic Ultrasound
    • A non-invasive study that uses high-frequency sound waves to produce an image that demonstrates and quantifies soft tissue pathologies.
  • Digit
    • Toe
  • Dislocation
    • Describes a  misaligned joint between two or more bones that is usually caused by trauma or arthritis.
  • Doppler study
    • A noninvasive test that measures and quantifies blood flow through arteries.
  • Dorsiflexion
    • Bending the top of the foot upwards towards the knee.
  • Drop foot
    • A condition characterized by the forefoot weakness or paralysis that is caused by neuromuscular disorders that prevent a person from lifting their forefoot when they walk.
  • Eczema
    • Inflammatory skin condition of unknown origin characterized by patches of skin become red, rough and inflamed that usually overly joints (sometimes causing blisters that cause itching and bleeding).
  • Edema
    • Swelling
  • Equinus deformity
    • A condition characterized by limited upward bending of the ankle joint and ankle rigidity.
  • Eversion
    • Three plane description of a foot position where foot twist out and away from the midline of the body.
  • Exostosis
    • Bone spur
  • Fibroma
    • A benign fibrous tumor of connective tissue.
  • Fissures
    • Skin cracks usually associated with excessively dry skin.
  • Fluoroscopy
    • An imaging technique that uses dynamic x-rays to obtain real-time moving images of bones and joints.
  • Foot odor
    • A condition also know as Bromhydrosis that is associated with foul smells caused by bacteria on the feet.
  • Foreign body
    • Any non-indigenous material that enters the body.
  • Fracture
    • Broken bone
  • Frostbite
    • Injury to body tissues caused by exposure to extreme cold.
  • Fungal toenails
    • Dry, cracked, discolored, and brittle nails caused by a fungal infection.
  • Gait abnormality
    • A deviation from normal walking.
  • Gait analysis
    • Evaluation of the manner or style of walking, usually done by observing the individual as he walks naturally in a straight line.
  • Ganglion 
    • Gel or fluid filled tissue mass usually attached to a tendon or tendon sheath.
  • Gangrene
    • Death of body tissue due to loss of blood supply.
  • Geriatric foot care
    • Describes a foot maintenance program designed to keep geriatrics active and healthy.
  • Gout
    •  A form of inflammatory arthritis caused by elevated blood uric acid levels causing joints to appear red, hot and swollen without trauma or infection (big toe joint most commonly affected).
  • Granuloma
    • An inflammed soft tissue mass composed of granulation tissue, typically produced in response to infection, inflammation, or in the presence of a foreign substance.
  • Haglund’s deformity
    • Bony spur on back of  the heel bone.
  • Hallux
    • Big toe
  • Hallux rigidus
    • Also known as hallux limitus, this form of degenerative arthritis affects the big toe joint causing pain and stiffness and rigidity in the big toe.
  • Hallux Valgus
    • Medical term for bunion deformity.
  • Hammertoe
    • Arthritic toe deformity where the toe joint furthest from the end of the toe is contracted, often causing pain, inflammation, open sores and corns.
  • Heel pain
    • Pain on the bottom or back of the heel bone (Calcaneus).
  • Heel spur
    • Arthritic bony growth that forms on the bottom or the back of the heel bone.
  • Hematoma
    • A collection of clotted blood beneath skin or nails (blood blister).
  • Hyperhidrosis
    • Skin condition caused by excessive sweating.
  • Hyperkeratosis
    • Hard, callused dead tissue built up by the body in an areas of pressure or friction.
  • Infection
    • Inflammatory condition caused by the invasion and multiplication of microorganisms such as bacteria, viruses, fungi and parasites within the body.
  • Ingrown toenails
    • Painful nail problem where the edge(s) of nails curl downward and grow into the skin.
  • Injury
    • An injury is the damage to a biological organism caused by physical harm.
  • Intermittent claudication
    • A clinical description of muscle pain and fatigue which occurs after walking for short periods of time.  The symptoms require a short period of rest., and are due to peripheral arterial disease that causes arterial insufficiency.
  • Juvenile bunion
    • A bunion deformity in a child.
  • Laceration
    • A deep cut or tear in skin or flesh.
  • Laser toenail treatment
    • Painless non-invasive treatment that uses light to eradicate toenail fungal infections.
  • Lesions 
    • Description of skin problems such as a warts, corns, or calluses.
  • Limb length discrepancy
    • A condition in which paired limbs are noticeably unequal (one leg is longer than the other).
  • Lymphedema
    • Refers to swelling that generally occurs in one or both arms or legs that is caused by a blockage within the lymphatic which can compromise the immune and circulatory systems.
  • Metatarsal
    • Long bones (5) of the foot just behind the toes.
  • Metatarsalgia
    • A condition caused by irritation of the ball of the foot which results in sharp pain, numbness or tingling sensations.
  • Metatarsus adductus
    • A child’s foot deformity, where the bones in the front half of the foot turn-in toward the body.
  • Neuritis
    • Neuritis is an inflammation of a peripheral nerve or nerves, usually causing pain and numbness.
  • Neuroma
    • An enlargement and thickening of nerve tissue commonly affecting the nerves between the toes (third and fourth toes most commonly), that leads to pain, tingling, burning and numbness between the toes.
  • Neuropathy
    • Disease or dysfunction of one or more peripheral nerves, typically causing numbness or weakness.
  • Night splints
    • Durable brace used at night to treat heel pain.
  • Onychia
    • Infection of the skin surrounding an ingrown toenail.
  • Onychomycosis
    • Medical term for a fungal infection of nails.
  • Orthotics
    • Custom shoe insoles used for the correction of the biomechanical problems that cause foot problems.
  • Osteoarthritis
    • The “wear-and-tear” type of arthritis that causes the degeneration of joint cartilage and the underlying bone resulting in joint pain and stiffness.
  • Osteochondrosis Dessicans
    • A joint condition where a piece of cartilage, and a thin layer of the bone beneath it comes loose from the end of a bone.
  • Osteomyelitis
    • An infection of the bone cells or the bone marrow that can lead to death of the bone tissue.
  • Pain
    • Physical suffering or discomfort caused by illness or injury.
  • Pain in joint
    • Common symptom most commonly caused by joint disease, injury or arthritis.
  • Paronychia
    • Infection in the skin at the base or side of a nail caused by an ingrown toenail.
  • Peripheral neuropathy
    • Damage of the body’s smaller nerves that branch off of bigger nerve trunks.
  • Peripheral Vascular Disease (PVD)
    • Systemic circulatory problem where narrowed arteries reduce blood flow to the extremities, causing pain and delayed healing.
  • Pes Cavus foot
    • High-arched foot type
  • Pes Planus foot
    • Flat foot type
  • Physical therapy
    • Treatment of inflammation and pain using non-invasive modalities (whirlpool, ultrasound, massage).
  • Plantar fasciitis      
    • Inflammation of the “arch muscle” or plantar fascia that is characterized by pain on the bottom of the heel (the origin of the fascia) and along the long arch of the foot.
  • Plantarflexed metatarsal
    • Foot deformity where the head of one of the long bones in the forefoot (metatarsal) is lower then the other four metatarsals, causing pain and inflamation.
  • Plantarflexion
    • Bending the the foot downwards.
  • Porokeratosis
    • A lesion caused by a  clogged sweat gland.
  • Pressure ulcer
    • Skin breakdown caused by continuous pressure on weight bearing body part.
  • Pronation
    • A three plane description of a foot position that is associated with flat feet.
  • Psoriasis
    • An autoimmune disease that causes a skin rash marked by red, itchy, scaly patches and thick, and discolored toenails.
  • Psoriatic nails
    • Thick, discolored toenails found on patients who have psoriasis that are not caused by a fungal infection.
  • Raynaud’s phenomenon
    • A disease characterized by pain, numbness and pallor (pale colored skin) of the extremities (mostly fingers and toes) triggered by cold sensitivity.
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
    • Autoimmune arthritic condition characterized by misshapen or discolored toes and fingers.
  • Scars
    • A thick mark left on the skin or within body tissue where a wound, burn where fibrous connective tissue has developed.
  • Septic joint
    • Infected space between two bones.
  • Sesamoiditis
    • Inflammation of one or two of the small bones located under the joint between the big toe and the first long bone (metatarsal).
  • Severe’s disease
    • Heel pain caused to inflammation of the growth plate of the heel bone (Calcaneus) in adolescent children.
  • Shin Splints
    • An overuse injury causing pain in the front of the leg associated with running/exercise.
  • Shockwave therapy
    • Noninvasive pain-relief treatment used to treat heel pain achilles tendonitis and neuromas.
  • Soft tissue mass
    • Tumors (benign or malignant) that emerge within the body that do not involve bone.
  • Sprained ankle
    • An ankle sprain occurs when one or more ligaments – fibrous bands of tissue that provide stability to the joint – are stretched or torn from excessive force such as a sudden twisting during sports, stepping on an uneven surface, or a blow to the ankle.
  • Sprains
    • Overstretching or tearing of the ligament that connects bone to bone.
  • Stress fracture
    • An overuse  fracture of bone caused by repeated (rather than sudden) mechanical stress.
  • Stretching exercises
    • A set of activities designed specifically to stretch and flex muscles and joints.
  • Subluxation
    • A partial dislocation resulting in the misalignment of a joint.
  • Supination
    • A three plane description of a foot position found in high arched people.
  • Tailor’s bunion
    • Bone adaptation (bump) found on the outside of the fifth metatarsal head associated arthritic change, that is also known as a bunionette.
  • Tarsal coalition
    • A condition in which 2 or more bones in the midfoot or hindfoot (rearfoot) are joined/fused.
  • Tarsal tunnel syndrome
    • Pain, numbness and tingling on the sole of the foot resulting from compression of the posterior tibial nerve or of the plantar nerves in the tarsal tunnel.
  • Tendon rupture
    • Torn tendon
  • Tendonitis
    • Inflammation of a tendon.
  • Tenosynovitis
    • Inflammation of a tendon and the sheath around tendon.
  • Tinea pedis
    • Athletes foot, caused by a fungal infection, which can cause cracking skin, itching, & skin rash.
  • Turf toe
    • A sprain (sports injury) found at the base of the big toe caused by a hyperextension of the first metatarso-phalangeal joint.
  • Urticaria
    • Itchy rash
  • Varicose veins
    • Enlarged veins associated with the loss of elasticity of the veins.
  • Venous insufficiency
    • Failure of the veins to adequately return blood to the heart, especially from the lower extremities.
  • Verruca
    • Wart
  • Warts
    • Skin lesion caused by a virus that enters the body through cuts or breaks in the skin and causes non-cancerous growths to build up on the soles of the feet.
  • Wound
    • An injury to living tissue caused by a cut, blow, or other impact, typically one in which the skin is cut or broken.
  • Wound dehiscence
    • A surgical complication in which a wound ruptures (splits open) along a surgical site.
  • Xerosis
    • Dry, cracked skin