5 Common Foot Problems of the Elderly & Applicable ICD-10 Codes

by | Published on May 20, 2020 | Medical Coding

Foot Problems
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Foot problems or foot disorders are common concerns for older people. Reports suggest that foot pain affects approximately one in four older people. As people age, their feet lose cushioning and the skin and nails grow dry and brittle. Many seniors experience poor blood circulation in their foot areas and this can lead to slow healing of foot sores. Problems in the foot area make it harder for a person to even walk; it could affect their balance and interfere with activities such as getting out of a chair or climbing stairs. Several symptoms indicate foot problems and these include – a burning and tingling sensation, dry skin, brittle nails and feeling of cold, numbness and discoloration. Practicing good foot hygiene can help prevent the occurrence of these issues in the long run, limit the possibility of additional medical problems and reduce the chances of hospitalization due to infection. When it comes to reporting diagnoses and symptoms, podiatrists or other physicians can rely on experienced medical billing companies. Skilled medical coding service providers who have extensive knowledge about the codes and related guidelines can easily manage the coding and claim submission processes.

Let’s take a look at some of the common foot problems among the elderly and their ICD-10 codes –

Bunions – A bunion is a foot deformity that consists of both bone and soft tissue. Also known as “Hallux Valgus,” bunions occur when the bone of the big toe excessively angles or pushes against the next toe (instead of straight ahead), forcing the joints to get bigger and protrude. In due course, the normal structure of the bone changes, resulting in a bony bump and the skin over the bunion may turn red and become sore. The condition is most often caused by wearing tight, narrow shoes that squeeze the toes together. In addition, factors such as an inherited structural defect, placing additional stress on the foot over a prolonged period or a medical condition like arthritis can also cause the condition. In most cases, bunion pain is relieved by wearing wider shoes with adequate toe room and using other simple treatments to reduce pressure on the big toe. ICD-10 Codes for bunions include –

  • M20.1 – Hallux valgus (acquired)
  • M20.10 – Hallux valgus (acquired), unspecified foot
  • M20.11 – Hallux valgus (acquired), right foot
  • M20.12 – Hallux valgus (acquired), left foot

Athlete’s Foot – Also called Tinea Pedis, Athlete’s Foot is a fungal infection that usually begins between the toes. It commonly occurs in people whose feet sweat a lot especially when confined within tight fitting shoes. The condition is closely related to other fungal infections (like ring worm and jock itch) and can be easily spread via contaminated floors, towels or clothing. Symptoms of this foot condition include a scaly rash that usually causes itching, stinging and burning. The rash typically begins in between the toes. Itching becomes worst right after you take off your shoes and socks. Treatment for this condition includes – over-the-counter antifungal ointment, cream, powder or spray. In some severe cases, prescription medications may also be recommended. ICD-10 code for this condition-

  • B35.3 – Tinea pedis

Hammertoes – A hammertoe is an abnormal bend in the middle joint of a toe. Although this foot deformity can affect any toe, it most commonly affects the second or third one. Common causes of this foot deformity include traumatic toe injury, arthritis, an unusually high foot arch, wearing shoes that don’t fit properly and tightened ligaments or tendons in the foot. Hammer toe symptoms may be mild or severe. Common symptoms include – a toe that bends downward, corns or calluses, difficulty walking, inability to flex your foot or wiggle your toes, and claw-like toes. The condition can be corrected by wearing properly fitting shoes. In addition, surgery may also be performed to reposition the toe, remove deformed or injured bone, and realign the tendons and joints. Related ICD-10 Codes include –

  • M20.4 – Other hammer toe(s) (acquired)
  • M20.40 – Other hammer toe(s) (acquired), unspecified foot
  • M20.41 – Other hammer toe(s) (acquired), right foot
  • M20.42 – Other hammer toe(s) (acquired), left foot

Ingrown toenails – A common foot condition, ingrown toenails occur when the edges or corners of the nail grow into the skin, next to the nail. The condition may cause pain, redness, swelling and, sometimes, an infection. Ingrown toenails usually affect your big toe. There are several causes associated with the condition and some of the common causes include -cutting your toenails too short or not straight across, wearing shoes that crowd your toenails, having unusually curved toenails and injuring your toe nails. People with diabetes are at high risk of complications of ingrown toenails as the condition causes poor blood flow to the feet. If left untreated or undetected, an ingrown toenail can infect the underlying bone and lead to a serious bone infection. ICD-10 code to report ingrown toenail –

  • L60.0 – Ingrowing nail

Heel spur – A heel spur is a foot condition that’s created by a bony growth, called a calcium deposit that extends between your heel bone and arch. This is a pointed bony outgrowth of the heel bone (the calcaneus bone). This foot condition often starts in the front side and underneath your heel. They eventually affect other parts of your foot and can grow up to half an inch in length. These growths may not necessarily be visible to the naked eye. Symptoms of heel spurs include pain, inflammation and swelling at the front of your heel. These symptoms may spread to the arch of your foot. The affected area may also feel warm to the touch. Eventually, a small bony protrusion may be visible. Heel spur treatment primarily consists of rest and lifestyle changes. Over-the-counter medications, cold compresses, anti-inflammatory medication injections, orthotic show inserts and physical therapy exercises may also be recommended as part of the treatment. Related ICD-10 codes include –

  • M77.3 Calcaneal spur
  • M77.30 Calcaneal spur, unspecified foot
  • M77.31 Calcaneal spur, right foot
  • M77.32 Calcaneal spur, left foot

Normal wear and tear may cause visible changes in the feet. As a person ages, his/her feet tend to spread, and lose the fatty pads that cushion the bottom of the feet. Additional weight can affect the bone and ligament structure. Observing good foot health can increase comfort, limit the possibility of additional medical problems, and reduce the chances of hospitalization due to infection.

Healthcare providers need to be well-informed about the specific ICD-10 codes to report common foot disorders. A reliable medical billing and coding company can help physicians with accurate claim submission for optimal reimbursement.

Meghann Drella

Meghann Drella possesses a profound understanding of ICD-10-CM and CPT requirements and procedures, actively participating in continuing education to stay abreast of any industry changes.

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