Posts for tag: Hammertoes
A hammertoe is a common foot deformity that affects the middle joint of the smaller toes. As a result, this causes the toes to bend downward. Since this bend causes the joint to stick out this can put more pressure on the affected joints when wearing shoes, which can also make the deformity worse over time. As with most foot deformities a hammertoe will start out minor and continue to progress over time if left untreated.
During the earlier stages you may not notice much pain and discomfort. In fact the only way you may be able to tell that you have a hammertoe is by examining the foot and noticing that the small toes bend downward like a claw. Of course, at this stage the deformed joint is still flexible enough to be straightened out.
However, if the deformity progresses this can cause the joint to become rigid, which won’t respond effectively to simple conservative treatments. As you might imagine, the sooner you see a podiatrist to treat your hammertoe the better. Early intervention is key, as a hammertoe will not get better without the proper care.
Hammertoes are often the result of an imbalance in the muscle or tendon of the foot. Over time, this leads to structural changes in the foot. Genetics may also play a role in whether your feet are at risk for this deformity. A hammertoe can also be made worse by wearing shoes that are too tight and put too much pressure on the toes.
Along with the structural changes that occur with hammertoes it’s also common to experience redness, inflammation or the development of a corn or callus on the toe. If you are noticing symptoms of a hammertoe see your podiatrist for an evaluation. A simple physical exam is usually all that’s needed to diagnose a hammertoe; however, sometimes an x-ray will be performed in order to determine the extent of the deformity.
If you are dealing with a flexible hammertoe, more often than not simple nonsurgical treatment options are all that’s needed. Following simple treatment options and care can prevent the hammertoes from becoming rigid or painful. Some nonsurgical treatment options include:
- Wearing the appropriate footwear. This means wearing shoes that aren’t pointy or have high heels, which can put more pressure on the toes.
- Placing custom orthotics into your shoes, which can ease discomfort and prevent pain resulting in a muscular imbalance.
- Taking over-the-counter pain relievers such as ibuprofen, which can reduce both pain and inflammation.
- Splinting the toe or toes to keep them straight, which can also reduce stiffness, inflammation and pain.
- Applying protective non-medicated padding over the top of the toe to prevent a corn or callus from developing.
If your hammertoe is painful or rigid then you may need to discuss whether surgery is the best option for alleviating your symptom and correcting the deformity. If you are dealing with a hammertoe turn to a foot specialist for help.
A Neuroma is an enlargement or thickening of nerve tissue. This benign condition can develop in many parts of the body, including the foot. The most frequent form of Neuroma that we treat at New England Foot & Ankle Specialists is Morton’s Neuroma which occurs between the third and fourth toes on the ball of the foot.
What Causes Neuromas?
Neuromas occur when nerves get irritated due to the friction of tissue rubbing up against them or from excess pressure. One of the most common sources of this nerve irritation is the pressure from shoes that have a tight toe box or high heels (which force the toes into the front of the shoe). Other possible causes include:
Overuse from activities that deliver repeated pounding to the ball of the foot, such as basketball or running
An injury or trauma to the foot
Oftentimes the symptoms of Morton’s Neuroma start gradually. Patients may feel pain or the sensation that there is a rock in their shoe or something under the ball of the foot. Other signs include tingling, burning or numbness in the affected area of the foot. Although symptoms may be alleviated temporarily with rest or massaging the painful area, they will only get worse over time. Left untreated, Neuromas will result in permanent nerve damage.
If these symptoms sound familiar, make an appointment to see one of our podiatrists, George A. Abboud, D.P.M., Brian D. Tedesco, D.P.M., Carl Conui, D.P.M., and Kimberly Thurmond, D.P.M. A complete physical exam, medical history and the use of imaging studies will help the foot doctor confirm a diagnosis of Morton’s Neuroma.
There are several non-surgical treatment options available, including orthotics and cortisone shots. In extreme cases, surgery may be recommended. If you believe you may have a Neuroma in your foot, contact our Reading office as soon as possible and put yourself on the road to relief.
Yes…and no. Hammertoe is a deformity that can happen to the second, third, fourth or fifth toe and is easily recognizable by its telltale bend in the toe joint. The cause of the bending is an imbalance in the muscle/tendon structure. In some of the cases we see at New England Foot & Ankle Specialists this mechanical defect is inherited, and therefore unavoidable. In other cases, improperly fitting shoes that are too tight in the toe box can force a toe to bend under. This is particularly prevalent when one toe is longer than the rest. Sometimes, hammertoes are the result of an injury or trauma to the toe.
A Progressive Disorder
Hammertoes will only get worse as time goes on and if left untreated, the toe will become more rigid and less able to straighten out. In addition to being painful, corns and calluses may form on the part of the toe that is rubbing up against the shoe and redness and a burning sensation may occur. To fully evaluate the condition of the toe, one of our board certified podiatrists: Dr. George A. Abboud, Dr. Brian D. Tedesco, Dr. Carl Conui, or Dr. Kimberly Thurmond will order an x-ray to get a better look at the extent of the deformity. The foot doctor will take into consideration how far the hammertoe has progressed and your lifestyle to arrive at the most effective course of treatment.
If you are in a considerable amount of pain as a result of a hammertoe, the podiatrist will look to provide relief, possibly with nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) or corticosteroid injections. Padding may also be suggested if corns or calluses have formed to protect the skin from further irritation. Going forward, choosing footwear that has a roomy toe box will be necessary to avoid cramping toes. Pointy shoes and high heels that squeeze the toes into the front of the shoe should also be avoided. The foot doctor may use splints or straps to properly realign the toe and orthotics may be prescribed to help keep the muscle/tendon imbalance under control. Surgery is a last resort if the toe has become too rigid to correct with conservative methods of treatment.
Hammertoe is best treated in its earliest stages, so if you see signs that your toe is bending and wearing shoes is becoming more painful, make an appointment at either our Reading office as soon as possible.