Glossary of Foot and Ankle Care Terms
Abduction: A movement which brings the foot further from the midline of the body.
achilles tendonitis: Microtearing and inflammation of the achilles tendon that results in pain.
accommodative orthotic: An orthotic made to accomadate the foot; made by taking a mold of the foot, generally while the patient is standing. The orthotic is fabricated using soft materials to mold a cushioned insert. Most commonly used for diabetics.
acute: Comes on quickly, but lasts a short time.
adduction: A movement which brings the foot closer to the midline of the body.
anesthesia: General anesthesia involves being put to sleep and having a machine breath for you. Regional anesthesia numbs a larger part of the body such as the entire leg. Local anesthesia involves having an injection and numbing medication placed into your skin to numb a localized area. Both regional and local anesthesia do not affect consciousness.
anti-inflammatories: Medications which decrease inflammation, (example: ibuprofen).
antibiotic: A medication used to treat bacterial infections. The medication can come in the form of a pill, drops or a topical.
apophysis: A growth plate at the end of bones which does not contribute to length.
artery: A vessel which carries blood with oxygen and nutrients from the heart to the surrounding tissues.
athlete’s foot: A skin infection caused by a fungus, most commonly Trichophyton rubrum and Trichophyton mentagrophytes. Foot fungus. Tinea pedis.
arthroplasty: Type of surgery that involves removing an arthritic, dysfunctional or deformed joint.
arthrodesis: Type of surgery that involves removing the joint, and placing the two ends of the bones together (with screws, pins or a plate) so they bones will grow together (ossification). Fusion.
avulsion: Removal of part of the nail or the full nail using a local anesthetic to numb the toe. The nail grows back 100% of the time.
Benign: Used to describe a mass or tumor when it is not threatening nor malignant.
biomechanics: The study of how the muscles, tendons and bones in your body create movement and motion.
biopsy: Removing cells or tissues for examination. In the foot, a small segment of skin, tissue or bone is taken and sent to a pathologist, who then examines the tissue under a microscope. At the microscopic level, the pathologist is able to tell if the tissue is benign or malignant.
bunion: Movement of the bones in the great toe joint that result in a large bump at the inside of the foot. A bunion can result in pain and/or arthritis.
bursa: A small fluid filled sac in the body, located at the point where a muscle or tendon slides across a bone. Irritation of the bursa can causes bursitis. Bursas can also develop as a result of pressure, to protect the body from the pressure.
bursitis: Irritation and pressure which results in inflammation of a bursa.
Calcaneal apophysitis: Also referred to as Sever’s disease. Inflammation of the growth plate in the calcaneus in children 8-12 years of age. The children are generally athletic and complain of heel pain while playing sports.
callus: A thickening of skin secondary to pressure or friction. Calluses generally occur on the bottom or sides of the feet.
capillaries: The small vessels between the veins and the arteries that allow the oxygen and nutrients to be delivered to the tissues.
circulation: A complex system which involves the arteries bringing oxygenated blood and nutrients to the tissues and the veins bringing deoxygenated blood back to the heart. The capillaries, situated between the arteries and veins, allow for transportation of nutrients and oxygen and carbon dioxide into the tissue cells and back into the vessels.
conservative treatment: Any treatment done that doesn’t involve surgery. The less invasive, the more conservative.
corn: A build up of dead tissue (callus like tissue) usually on the top of the toe or between the toes. Many times as a result of a hammertoe.
cuneiforms: Bones in the middle and inside of the foot.
Debrided: Removing dead, damaged, callused or infected tissue with a sharp instrument. Callus debridement, ulcer debridement.
debridements: Debrided. Removing dead, damaged, callused or infected tissue with a sharp instrument. Callus debridement, ulcer debridement.
dermatitis: An inflammation of the skin, generally as a result of an allergic reaction.
diabetic neuropathy: Nerve damage caused by diabetes and is described as a loss of sensation that starts in the tips of the toes and gradually works its way up the legs. Diabetic neuropathy is sometimes referred to as a stocking glove neuropathy because it progresses as if one was pulling on a stocking.
Endoscopically: Visualizing the inside of the body through a small incision with a small camera.
erythrasma: A skin diseases causes inflammation between the toes caused by Corynebacterium.
etiology: The cause of a condition or disease.
eversion: The motion of the foot when the sole of the foot turns outward away from the midline of the body. Everted.
everted: The position of the foot when foot turns out, away from the midline of the body. Eversion.
Fascia: Fibrous connective tissue resembling a ligament which maintains structural integrity and provides support. The plantar fascia extends from the heel to the toes and supports the arch.
fixation: Surgical term describing the type of hardware placed in an area to hold two pieces of bone together.
forefoot: The front of the foot which includes the metatarsal heads and toes.
fracture: Broken bone.
functional orthotic: A semi-rigid balancing device designed to slip into the shoe and control abnormal motion in the foot. The device is made by taking a mold of the foot while it is held in a correct position.
Gait: A style or manner of walking.
ganglionic cyst: A closed sac which develops as an outpouching from a joint or a tendon, usually filled with a jelly like fluid.
Haglund’s deformity: A bone protuberance at the back of the heel that cause be inflammed and cause pain. Usually occurs with high arch feet and with high-heeled shoes. Also called pump-bump.
hammertoe: A deformity at the toe causing the joint to bend. A rigid hammertoe is permanently fixed in the bent and crooked position. A flexible hammertoe is a crooked joint which may straighten with pressure or standing.
hyperkeratosis: Dead tissue built up by the body in an area of pressure or friction. Hyperkeratotic tissue. Callus tissue.
hyperkeratotic tissue: Dead tissue built up by the body in an area of pressure or friction. Hyperkeratosis. Callus tissue.
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Immunocompromised: A state in which the immune system is compromised or absent and lacks the ability to fight infections.
incision: Surgical term for cutting the skin during surgery.
Infection: Colonization by an organism (generally bacteria, fungus or a virus) seeking to utilize the host’s resources.
inflammation: A complex response by the body to harmful stimuli, resulting in redness and swelling to an area. Does not involve infection.
insertion: A place on the bone where a tendon or ligament attaches.
insertional tendonitis: Inflammation of a tendon at it’s insertion.
interdigital tinea: Fungus infection of the skin that occurs between the toes.
inversion: The motion of the foot when the sole of the foot turns inward towards the midline of the body. Inverted.
inverted: The position of the foot when the sole of the foot turns inward towards the midline of the body. Inversion.
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KOH: Potassium hydroxide test that allows for fungus to be observed under the microscope.
Lateral: Away from the central line of the body
ligament: Fibrous tissue, made mostly of collagen, which connects bone to bone.
Matrix: the base of the nail, “the root” where the nail grows.
matrixectomy: Permanent removal of all or part of a nail. This procedure is similar to a nail avulsion except that a chemical is used to destroy the nail root to prevent the nail from growing back.
medial: Towards the central line of the body
metatarsal: Long bone in the foot.
metatarsal phalangeal joint: Great toe (or big toe) joint.
midfoot: The middle of the foot which compromises the cuneiforms, the navicular and the bases of the metatarsals.
MRI: Magnetic resonance imaging. An imaging technique used to view the inside of the body by using magnetic gradients.
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Nail bed: The nail bed lies under the nail and contains blood vessels and nerves. A healthy nail bed is necessary to normal growth of the nail.
navicular: A bone in the middle and inside of the foot.
nerve entrapment: Compression of a nerve resulting in abnormal sensations such as tingling, burning, electrical or sharp shooting pain. A nerve may be caught in scar tissue, rubbed by a tendon or a shoe or caught in a mass, all of which can cause compression.
neuropathy: Disease that affects the nervous system resulting in numbness or abnormal sensations.
Onychocryptosis: Curvature of the nail which may cause pinching or the skin, pain, inflammation or infection. Ingrown toenail.
onychomycosis: A fungal infection of the nails.
orthotics: An orthotic is a device that fits into the shoe and controls motion or accommodates the foot. Custom molded orthotics are made by taking a mold of the foot. Functional orthotics are semi-rigid and designed to control motion. Accommodative orthotics are soft and designed to cushion and protect the foot.
Palpation: Examination technique involving pressure on an area to see if the area is normal or if there is any pain.
painful diabetic neuropathy: Diabetic neuropathy is nerve damage caused by diabetes and is described as a loss of sensation that starts in the tips of the toes and gradually works its way up the legs. Burning, numbness, tingling, hot and cold sensations, shooting and electrical pain are common sensations felt in the feet in individuals with painful diabetic peripheral neuropathy (PDN).
paronychia: An infection in the skin at the base of the nail or surrounding the nail. Generally associated with ingrown nails.
partial matrixectomy: Permanent removal of part of the nail. This procedure is similar to a nail avulsion except that a chemical is used to destroy the nail root and prevent further nail growth.
partial nail avulsion: Removing only part of the nail and allowing it to grow back in. This involves an injection of local anesthetic to numb the toe before nail removal.
pathologic pes valgus: The medical term used to describe a severe flatfoot which develops medical problems as a result. peripheral neuropathy: Damage to the body’s peripheral nerves. resulting in a loss of sensation that starts in the tips of the toes and gradually works its way up the legs.
peroneal tendonitis: Inflammation of the peroneal tendon which runs on the outside of the leg and foot.
pes plano valgus: Medical term for flatfoot.
phalanges: Small bones in the toes. image
plantar fascia: A long ligament type structure on the bottom of the foot which starts at the heel and travels out to the toes and helps to support the arch. image
plantar fasciitis: Microtears and associated inflammation in the long ligament type structure (plantar fascia) on the bottom of the foot.
posterior tibial tendon: The tendon originates in the calf and courses around the inside of the ankle and attaches to the inside of the foot. The function is to pull the foot in and down and to support the arch when walking.
posterior tibial tendonits: Inflammation of the posterior tibialis tendon, usually where it attaches on the foot. Can be a result of a fallen arch or flatfeet.
pronation: A complex motion of eversion, dorsiflexion and abduction. The heel rotates away the center of the body, the little toe moves away from the center of the body, the foot flexes up slightly and the ankle rolls in.
protective sensation: A term used to describe the body’s protective ability in the foot, generally used in diabetic foot care. Once sensation has been lost past a certain threshold (protective threshold) the body no longer has the ability to protect itself from harm (in the case of diabetes, from ulceration and infection).
pump-bump: A bone protuberance at the back of the heel that cause be inflammed and cause pain. Usually occurs with high arch feet and with high-heeled shoes.
Rearfoot: The back of the foot comprising the heel bone (calcaneus) the ankle bone (talus) and the cuboid.
retrocalcaneal bursitis: A small sac of fluid at the back of the heel, usually at the attachment of the achilles tendon, can be associated with a heel spur.
retrocalcaneal heel spur: A bone spur at the back of the heel, usually at the attachment of the achilles tendon.
rule out: In order to be sure of a diagnosis, the physician needs to make sure by considering the other conditions that appear similar to the existing condition. Sometimes lab tests are done or x-rays and other times, only more questioning is necessary. Once this is done, the other conditions have been “ruled out”.
Sesamoid: Small bones under the great toe joint, act as lever arms.
Sever’s disease: Inflammation of the growth plate in the calcaneus in children 8-12 years of age. The children are generally athletic and complain of heel pain while playing sports. Calcaneal apophysitis.
stress fracture: Incomplete break of the bone.
subungual hematoma: A blood blister that forms under the nail.
supination: A complex motion involving inversion, plantarflexion and adduction. The heel rotates towards the center of the body, the big toe moves towards the center of the body, the foot flexes down and the ankle rolls out.
Talar dome injury: Injury to the talar cartilage and part of the talus bone under the cartilage in the ankle joint. Can occur as a result of ankle sprains.
talus: Bone in the ankle that sits between the calf bone (tibia) and the heel bone (calcaneus).
tendon: A structure that connects the muscle to the bone.
tendonitis: Microscopic tears within the collagen matrix of the tendon, occuring as a result of overuse, cause inflammation and weakening of the tendon.
tendonosis: Microscopic tears within the collagen matrix of the tendon, occuring as a result of overuse, weakening the tendon. Many health care providers believe tendonitis is actually tendonosis, microscopic tears and damage to the connective tissue within the tendon, without associated inflammation.
tibia: Long bone in the calf.
tibial periostitis: The inflammation of the fiber like tissue that lines the bone of the tibia (front of the leg). Shins splints.
tinea pedis: Fungus infection of the skin of the feet.
Ulcer: Opening or break in the skin. Ulceration.
ulceration: Opening or break in the skin. Ulcer.
Vein: Blood vessel that carries blood without oxygen and nutrients from the surrounding tissues to the heart.
verrucae: A growth that can resemble cauliflower and look like a callus, caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV). Wart.
vesicular: Small blisters
vesicular tinea: A fungus infection that presents with peeling, redness and tiny blisters.
Wart: A growth that can resemble cauliflower and look like a callus, caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV). Verrucae.
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