One common foot issue that often prompts patients to visit the podiatrist is hammertoe. Hammertoe is a foot condition that is not only painful, but also embarrassing for patients who want to wear certain types of shoes and show off their feet. Learn more about what causes hammertoe and how it can be resolved at your podiatrist’s office.
What Is a Hammertoe?
The muscles of your toe help keep it in proper alignment so that it lies straight, the same way that your fingers look when you lay them out on a table. But in some cases, the joints in the toe become weakened, causing the top end of the toe to bend forward. This is called hammertoe—it usually happens to one or all of the middle three toes of the foot. In some cases the hammertoe is flexible, meaning that the toe can be manually bent back up into position, but in other cases it is rigid and can’t be adjusted. Hammertoe makes it difficult or even impossible to comfortably wear and walk in everyday shoes.
What Causes Hammertoe?
Hammertoe is most commonly caused by wearing bad shoes for extended periods of time. It is a problem often found in women because they like to wear attractive high heels that do unfortunate things to their feet. The design of many high heeled shoes causes the feet and toes to push up against the rigid front and bend them into the shape of a hammertoe. In some cases, people are more prone to hammertoe due to genetics or because of medical condition, like diabetes.
Treatments for Hammertoe
The treatment plan of choice for hammertoe is a combination of foot exercises, physical therapy and custommade orthotic shoes or inserts. Placing a splint on the affected toe can also help it heal back into its correct position. If the area is painful, your podiatrist may also administer cortisone injections. In the case of rigid hammertoe, where you lose the ability to move the toe up or down, surgery may be necessary to fix the joint.
Hammertoe is an embarrassing foot problem, but the good news is that it can be corrected or relieved in most cases. It is best treated when you catch it in its early stages, so make an appointment with your podiatrist at the first signs of a bending toe.
Patients who have uncontrolled diabetic symptoms and infections that affect the feet sometimes have to face the possibility of living with a missing toe. There are preventative therapies available to heal the feet before this happens, but in some unfortunate cases amputation of a toe is necessary. Here are some tips from podiatrists for how to adapt to a missing toe and still live a normal, active life.
Reasons for Missing Toes
One of the most common causes for complications related to the feet and toes is uncontrolled diabetes. Diabetic symptoms can cause foot ulcers, which are wounds that can become seriously infected and lead to the need for amputation of toes. Diabetes can also cause poor circulation, which starves the toes of the blood and oxygen needed to keep them healthy. The other common reason for a missing toe is a serious injury, such as a very heavy object falling on the foot.
Adapting to the Loss of a Toe
It’s true that you need your toes for balance and stability, but a missing toe is not the end of the world. Many people have learned to strengthen their other nine toes to walk and even run successfully. A podiatrist will likely recommend physical therapy and special exercises to help you to strengthen your muscles and adapt to a missing toe. Special shoes and toe fillers can be designed to provide you with the additional support you need. Prosthetics are also available to act as a toe replacement for athletes.
Protecting Your Feet and Toes
It’s important to take “steps” toward protecting your feet and toes to prevent future problems. Patients with diabetes must work closely with their doctor to get their blood glucose levels under control. That may include adopting a better diet, taking prescribed medication and checking blood sugar levels regularly. If you work at a job that puts your feet at risk, like construction or manufacturing, wear steeltoes boots or shoes at all times to protect your toes.
It is possible to live a normal life with a missing toe. Talk to your podiatrist if you have concerns about your feet—modern treatments and solutions are available to successfully relieve symptoms, strengthen your toes and bring your feet back to their full function.
Find out if a lateral ankle injury could be to blame for your constant ankle pain.
Q. What is a lateral ankle injury?
A. A lateral ankle injury is a sprain or tear of the lateral ligaments, or the ligaments found on the outer portion of the ankle.
Q. What are the symptoms of a lateral ankle injury?
A. The most common symptoms are: chronic pain in the ankle, reduced mobility and function in the foot, swelling and inflammation, a weakened ankle, and poor rangeofmotion. Some athletes with a lateral ankle injury may not be able to bear any weight on the foot, or they may feel as if the ankle is unstable and gives out when walking.
Q. What are the causes of a lateral ankle injury?
A. One of the primary causes is playing sports, especially spots that involve inversion movements or changing directions quickly, like basketball or tennis. Lateral ankle injuries occur when the athlete rolls the ankle inward, causing tears or strain on the lateral ligaments. Chronic lateral ankle pain can also be the result of an ankle sprain that never properly healed.
Q. How are lateral ankle injuries diagnosed?
A. We will discuss your medical history and then delve into the symptoms you are experiencing. We will ask if you’ve ever had any previous ankle injuries and what the treatment process was for your past injuries. Besides running a thorough physical examination to check for tender or swollen areas of the ankle, we may also run a series of Xrays to look at the health of your ankle joint.
Q. What kinds of treatments are available for lateral ankle injuries?
A. The initial treatment requires that patients stay off their injured foot and rest as much as possible to reduce pain and swelling. Icing the injury can also be helpful for the first couple days to reduce inflammation. It’s best to follow the RICE method when it comes to caring for your injury at home: Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation.
You will also want to see your podiatrist for physical therapy, where we will perform a series of strengthening and stretching exercises that are meant to restrengthen damaged ligaments and improve rangeofmotion. Because those with lateral ankle injuries are also prone to future injuries, following routine strengthening exercises will help reduce your chances of reinjury. Expect to be in physical therapy for about six to 10 weeks.
There are some patients that don’t experience any relief from their symptoms even with these treatments. When this happens, your podiatrist may recommend surgery to repair the damaged ligaments and promote better healing.
Do you know how to treat a foot problem when it happens to you?
Foot problems happen to most people at some point during their lifetime. It’s important that you know what to do about it to prevent further issues. Our New York City podiatrists at Kenneth R. Meisler & Associates are here to share the most common foot conditions and problems we see and what you can do to treat your condition and manage your symptoms.
This deformity of the joint at the base of the big toe is a fairly common condition that occurs over time. More women develop bunions than men and it usually is more noticeable later in life. This deformity is progressive, meaning that it will continue to grow and get worse if the proper measures aren’t taken to treat it.
While bunion surgery is the only way to repair the joint, the majority of people can get away with managing their symptoms with non-invasive measures such as:
- Heat therapy
- Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDs)
- Custom orthotics
- Proper footwear
- Bunion pads
While there are a few conditions that can lead to heel pain, plantar fasciitis is the most common cause. Plantar fasciitis is when there are microtears or inflammation in the plantar fascia, a band of tissue that runs along the soles of the feet. If you also notice arch pain along with heel pain then you may be dealing with plantar fasciitis.
Luckily, plantar fasciitis will often go away on its own. In the meantime, there are things you can do to manage your symptoms:
- Brace or splint the heel
- Wear orthotics (custom shoe inserts)
- Wear shoes that offer more support and padding
- Avoid high-impact exercises
- Rest the foot and elevate it
If symptoms don’t improve after a week of at-home care, then it’s time to visit one of our New York City foot doctors.
While fungal infections are rarely serious, it’s still important that you treat the infection to prevent it from spreading. There are over-the-counter antifungal medications that you can use; however, it can be tricky to treat fungal nail infections. Sometimes you’ll need to turn to a foot specialist for a prescription medication or for laser nail treatment.
If you are experiencing any of these issues above, or any other foot problems, don’t hesitate to call our New York, NY podiatry office right away for treatment. Even if you just have questions about the services we offer, we are here to answer them.
Podiatrists diagnose and treat a wide variety of footrelated concerns that affect everything from the heels to the toes. One relatively rare yet concerning issue that a foot doctor can fix is clubfoot—it’s a condition that usually affects children. If you have concerns about the shape and function of your child’s feet, learn more about clubfoot, its causes and how it can be successfully treated by a podiatrist.
What Is Club Foot?
Club foot is a condition that causes the feet to look deformed. It is an issue that usually develops at birth and continues to develop through childhood. The foot looks twisted to the point where the child cannot walk properly or even place his foot down on the ground normally. In extreme cases, where the foot is almost upside down, the child can’t walk at all. If it goes untreated, it can cause problems in the calves and legs, so this is a problem that must be corrected as soon as it is noticed.
What Causes Club Foot?
Doctors don’t know exactly what causes clubfoot, but there is a theory that it may develop in the womb. The way that the baby is positioned in the mother’s womb could cause unnatural pressure on the stilldeveloping child’s skeletal system. Children who are diagnosed with musculoskeletal disorders are also more prone to this foot problem. Some doctors also believe that club foot runs in the family, or it can be caused by smoking or doing drugs during pregnancy.
Cures for Club Foot
Podiatrists can successfully correct most cases of club foot in children—the earlier that it’s addressed by a doctor, the better. The standard procedure to fix this condition is called the Ponseti treatment method. The podiatrist stretches the child’s feet to the proper position and then puts it in a secure cast. Regular appointments are necessary to readjust the position of the feet and monitor progress until they are properly aligned. Other solutions include taping the feet, and, in advanced cases, surgery may be needed.
Your child can be cured of club foot and have healthy, normally aligned feet. It’s important to see a podiatrist for a consultation as soon as the issue is noticed for the best results.
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