Glossary

Arch - The arch of the foot is the area of the bottom of the foot between the heel pad and toe pad.

Acrokeratosis verruciformis - a hereditary dermatosis characterized by the presence of numerous flat wart-like papules on the dorsal aspect of the hand, foot, elbow, and knee.

Ankle - the part of the leg just above the foot; the joint between the leg and the foot. It is a hinge joint formed by the junction of the tibia and fibula with the talus, or ankle bone. The bones are cushioned by cartilage and connected by a number of ligaments, tendons, and muscles that strengthen the joint and enable it to be moved. Because it is in almost constant use, the ankle is particularly susceptible to injuries, such as sprain and fracture. It is also often one of the first joints to be affected by arthritis or gout.

Ankle clonus - a series of abnormal reflex movements of the foot, induced by sudden dorsiflexion, causing alternate contraction and relaxation of the triceps surae muscle.

Athlete's foot - a fungal infection of the skin of the foot; called also tinea pedis. It causes itching and often blisters and cracks, usually between the toes. Causative agents are Candida albicans, Epidermophyton floccosum, and species of Trichophyton, which thrive on warmth and dampness. If not arrested, it can cause a rash and itching in other parts of the body as well. It is likely to be recurrent, since the fungus survives under the toenails and reappears when conditions are favorable. Although Athlete''s foot is usually little more than an uncomfortable nuisance, its open sores provide excellent sites for more serious infections. Early treatment and health care supervision insure correct diagnosis and prevention of complications. Specific diagnosis is made by microscopic examination or culture of skin scrapings for the fungus.

Spasms are contractions of the hands, thumbs, feet, or toes and are sometimes seen with muscle cramps, twitching, and convulsions. The contractions of the muscles can be violent.

Carpopedal spasms, or spasms in the feet or toes, are usually accompanied by numbness, tingling, or a "pins-and-needles" feeling; muscle weakness; fatigue; cramping; twitching; and uncontrolled, purposeless, rapid motions.

Common causes of spasms include:

  • Vitamin D deficiency.
  • Hyperventilation (calcium becomes temporarily unavailable to the body during hyperventilation).
  • Hypocalcemia.
  • Muscle cramps, usually caused by sports or occupational muscle injury.
  • Parkinson's disease and other neuromuscular conditions.

Spasms of the hands or feet can be an important early warning sign of other serious health problems, so it is important to seek medical attention. Treatments may include calcium and Vitamin D supplements (if you have a deficiency).




Sterling and Gaston