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4 Rare Diseases of the Foot

Rare Disease Day rolls around at the very end of this odd month with only 28 days. One could argue that it should fall on February 29, since that’s an even rarer day; but if that were the case, we’d miss an annual opportunity to call your attention to some interesting foot conditions.

It’s easy to spot the symptoms of common foot and ankle problems. But what if your swelling, stiffness, or tenderness were actually pointing at something uncommon? By definition, a common condition such as tendinitis or a bone fracture is more likely, so we’re not trying to raise any alarms. But it’s kind of intriguing to learn something about these out-of-the-ordinary foot problems from expert podiatrist Kenneth R. Wilhelm of Clifton Foot & Ankle Center in northern Virginia.

  1. Kohler’s disease is actually a blood supply problem that occurs in children. Arteries in the foot grow improperly and impede blood flow. As a result, foot bones break down and become weak, causing swelling, tenderness, and redness. Kohler’s disease can clear up on its own or with the assistance of rest, custom orthotics, and supportive braces.
  2. Mafucci’s syndrome is another disease that affects children. This condition involves the growth of soft tissue tumors (enchondromas) along the bones, most commonly in the hands or feet. Although the tumors are non-cancerous, they make bones more susceptible to breakage – and they can become malignant. Surgical removal is often the best choice.
  3. Someone with unusually long metatarsal bones (the long bones of your midfoot) or trauma to the foot may develop Freiberg’s disease. Freiberg’s affects the surfaces of the joint, causing bone deterioration, pain, and stiffness. Adolescent girls are the most likely group to develop Freiberg’s disease.
  4. Burger’s disease causes pain and ulcers in the lower limbs and pale toes in cold weather due to a lack of blood flow. A sufferer of Burger’s disease has a compromised vascular system that can almost always be traced back to cigarette smoking.

Once again, pain and stiffness in your foot does not automatically point to a rare disease. But any foot pain is nothing you need to live with. Dr. Wilhelm can diagnose and treat your pain, whether it’s common or rare. Bring your concerns to us by contacting us online, or by calling us at our Centreville, VA office at (703) 996-3000.

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