Calluses are a nuisance and often a source of pain. They are unattractive thick patches of dry dead skin that develop from constant pressure or friction on the soles and sides of the feet. There are several places on the feet where calluses grow, including the ball of the foot, outer side of the large toe, and heel. Most people assume calluses form as a result of wear and tear on the feet, but often, the problem is caused by constant pressure on the bones of the foot or possibly a bone deformity.
You can’t treat the problem until you know the underlying cause, so for an accurate diagnosis, you need to contact a board-certified podiatrist. Among the best in the field are the doctors at La Peer Health Systems. When examining a foot callus, La Peer doctors will check your feet to determine if the problem can be attributed to a problem with foot structure. Depending on the callus’ location, you could have a bone spur or plantar callus requiring medical treatment.
What Causes Calluses?
Calluses form along the foot from constant rubbing against a bony part of the toe, ball of the foot, or heel. Over time, the area thickens to form a callus causing discomfort and sometimes pain. Most people think calluses are a skin problem, but actually they often indicate a problem with a bone or cartilage. By consulting with a podiatrist such as the experts at La Peer Health Systems, you’ll learn the most effective way to treat and remedy the problem.
A common spot for a callus is under the metatarsal head (long bone) of the ball of the foot where poor alignment or deformity causes skin to build up under the bone. Nerves under the callus cause the pain commonly associated with calluses. These symptoms range from intense shooting pain to a dull ache. This is a foot condition which specialists, including La Peer podiatrists, could diagnose and treat for you.
Calluses from Bone Spurs
A bone spur is a growth of bone or cartilage that can develop in different places such as the spine, hips, knees, and feet. Common sites on the feet for these bony growths are the ball or heel of the foot. Thick calluses develop from recurring pressure or friction on your foot and often these can be easily treated with home remedies, but your problem may require a specialist’s attention.
The two most common foot problems from bone spurs include:
- Heel spurs – Calcium deposits under the heel bone.
- Plantar fascitis – Inflammation of plantar fascia, connective tissue that stretches from base of the toes, across the arch, and extend to heel bone. A condition called overpronation, which is overextension of the plantar fascia, is a common cause.
Bone spurs are not always painful, but when there is pain, it is usually the damaged soft tissue which is the problem. Individuals who are active in sports with extensive running and jumping are susceptible to bone spurs.
Conservative treatment is often recommended when first treating calluses. Many people like to have the top portion of the callus shaved off to relieve some of the pressure and reduce thickness. While this appears a simple solution treatable by a manicurist, it’s best to have a specialist like the board-certified podiatrists at La Peer perform the best solution for you. You reduce the risk of infection and complications, and a doctor is more likely to remove enough of the callus to make a difference for you. You could also consult with your doctor about getting custom footpads to place in your shoes to relieve some of the pressure on your feet.
Often initial treatment could be something tried at home. These solutions can include:
- Pumice stone
- Salicylic-acid callus remover
- Foot moisturizer
- Foot pads
Many podiatrists discourage using over-the-counter salicylic-acid solutions since misuse can cause chemical burns or other skin problems. These products shouldn’t be used by people with a health condition like diabetes.
When the spur is caused by bone or cartilage, podiatrists perform a surgical procedure called an osteotomy to trim off excess bone to relieve pressure on the foot. An osteotomy for a bone spur is conducted on an out-patient basis and patients return home within a few hours. Your surgeon will give you recommendations for foot care following surgery, and these typically include ice, compression, and foot elevation. In some cases, it may be necessary for patients to use bandages, splints, surgical shoes, or crutches after an osteotomy.
Q: When is surgery recommended?
A: When necessary, surgery for calluses involves shaving the underlying bone or correcting any deformity that is causing undue pressure or friction on the foot.
Q: Is surgery a permanent solution?
A: A callus could grow back. To minimize the chances, podiatrists recommend keeping the feet dry and friction-free. Wear shoes that fit well and use cotton, not polyester, socks
Q: Who is a candidate for foot surgery?
A: An examination by a board-certified podiatrist can assess the cause of your condition. If bone or cartilage is the problem, then an osteotomy can be performed.
Contact the Foot Specialists
Our team of expert orthopedic surgeons and podiatrists work together to provide the most personalized and effective treatments for conditions of the foot. If you suffer from foot pain that is severe or persistent, and would like to learn about treatment options, contact the Foot and Ankle Surgery Center of Excellence at 888.225.0763 or our Podiatry Department at 855.360.9119.