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Foot and Ankle Conditions

At UC San Diego Health, our board-certified specialists have extensive training in the diagnosis and treatment of a wide range of foot and ankle conditions. Learn more about the different foot and ankle conditions we treat, below.

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Achilles Tendon Disorders

The Achilles tendon connects the bones of your heel to your calf muscles and allows you to flex your foot and point your toes. As the longest and largest tendon in the body, it’s also one of the most commonly injured. The most common Achilles tendon injuries are Achilles tendinosis and Achilles tendon rupture.

Read more about the specific Achilles tendon disorders we treat:

Ankle Disorders

The ankle allows us to move our foot up and down and supports us in our daily activities. The demands on the ankle make it prone to injury, especially in athletes. Roughly 25,000 ankle sprains occur in the United States every single day. The most common ankle problems are sprains and fractures, followed quickly by arthritis and tendonitis.

Read more about the specific ankle disorders we treat:

  • Acute ankle stress fractures describe a break in one or more of the ankle bones.
  • Ankle sprains describe damage to ligaments when they are stretched beyond their normal range of motion.
  • Chronic ankle instability is characterized by the recurring “giving out” of the ankle joint, usually after multiple sprained ankles.
  • Subtalar instability is a chronic looseness or the “giving out” of the joint between the ankle bone and the bones of the foot.
  • Tearing or dislocation of the peroneal tendon or peroneus quartus muscle, which lie near the outside ankle bone.
  • Osteochondral injury of the talus is a joint disorder which causes cracks to a segment of bone and cartilage in the talus, located at the bottom of the ankle joint. Sometimes this injury occurs to the bone and cartilage on the tibia, located above the ankle joint.
  • Syndesmosis injury, or a high ankle sprain, where at least one of the ligaments connecting the bottom ends of the lower leg bones is sprained.
  • Injuries prevalent among dancers, including:
    • Posterior and anterior ankle impingent, where soft tissues around the ankle are pinched through extreme flexing of the foot.
    • Certain people have an extra bone behind the ankle, called the os trigonum or "accessory talus." Os trigonum syndrome is when this extra bone is pinched and the surrounding tissue stretches and tears.
    • Flexor hallucis longus (FHL) tendonitis, or dancers tendonitis, is when repetitive pointing and flexing of the foot leads to inflammation of the FHL tendon.

General Foot Disorders

Nearly 80 percent of people ages 21 and older have had at least one problem with their feet. Some of the most common foot problems include bunions and plantar fasciitis.

Read more about the specific foot disorders we treat:

  • Plantar fasciitis is the irritation and inflammation of the thick fibrous tissue at the bottom of the foot.
  • Plantar fascia ruptures occur when weakened fibers of the plantar fascia tear.
  • Sesamoiditis, or inflammation of the bones at the bottom of the foot, just behind the large toe, as well as fracture to the bottom of the big toe (sesamoid fracture).
  • A metatarsophalangeal joint sprain is an injury to the connective tissue between the foot and one of the toes. When the big toe is involved, it is known as "turf toe."
  • A bunion is a bony protrusion at the base of the big toe, where the big toe turns awkwardly in to the other toes. More than half of women in the U.S. have bunions due to wearing tight, narrow shoes and high heels.
  • Fractures, or the breaking of one or more bones, includes acute foot fractures and foot stress fractures.
  • Lisfranc injury is a fracture, dislocation or sprain to the midfoot, the area above the arch in the middle of the foot.

Nerve Disorders

Compression neuropathies, or nerve injuries, of the foot and ankle occur in patients for reasons including stress, genetics, autoimmune disorders, trauma or other causes. Two of the most common nerve disorders of the foot and ankle are Morton’s neuroma and tarsal tunnel syndrome.

Read more about the specific nerve disorders we treat:

  • Morton’s neuroma involves a thickening of the tissue around one of the nerves leading to the toes.
  • Similar to carpal tunnel in the wrist, tarsal tunnel syndrome is a painful foot condition where the tibial nerve is compressed as it passes through the tarsal tunnel.
  • Baxter’s nerve entrapment occurs when the first branch of the lateral plantar nerve becomes entrapped in the heel.

Toe Disorders

Our toes help us balance, assist in everyday activities and help us bear weight. Playing sports, running, receiving a blow to the foot or wearing shoes that are too loose or too tight can cause toe problems. Roughly 36,000 job-related toe injuries occur every year.

Read more about the specific toe disorders we treat:

  • Hallux rigidus, or stiff big toe, is stiffness caused by degenerative arthritis or bone spurs that affect the base of the big toe.
  • Hammertoe is where the middle joint of a toe bends and becomes stuck, resembling a hammer.

Appointments & Referrals


La Jolla


Our Specialists

Foot and Ankle Surgeon is Athlete at Heart

Ahmed Sonya

Dr. Sonya Ahmed is the chief of foot and ankle surgery in the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery at UC San Diego Health. See how this 1996 Olympic hopeful vaulted her way through medical school. Read article.

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