Posts for tag: foot deformities
Have you ever taken off your shoe, thinking there was a pebble inside, only to find nothing? You may be experiencing the effects of a neuroma. Morton’s neuroma is the term for a thickening of the tissue around the nerve between the third and fourth toes. It can be painful and lead to permanent damage if left untreated.
Symptoms of a Morton’s neuroma include sharp, burning pain in the ball of the foot and a stinging or numb feeling in the toes. Symptoms show up only occasionally at first but will increase in intensity and become more persistent as the condition worsens. Over time, the tissue will thicken to the point where you may lose feeling in those toes.
As with many foot ailments, the causes are easily brought on by improper footwear. High heels that squeeze the toes together can lead to Morton’s neuroma. Some sports featuring tight footwear such as rock climbing, ballet, and skiing have been linked to neuroma development.
READ MORE: Shoes for the Activities We Love
Neuromas are also more likely to occur in those with high arches, flat feet, bunions, hammertoes, or other foot deformities. Your podiatrist will likely take x-rays to rule out other causes of pain (such as stress fractures) or perform an ultrasound to see what’s happening in your soft tissues.
If caught early, many patients can stop their pain and reverse the effects of a neuroma. Step one is to get the proper footwear. Choose shoes with a wide toe-box. If you must wear heels, try a wedge or a lower heel height. Make sure you relieve any pressure on your toes occasionally if you wear tight shoes throughout the day. Padding your shoes and adding arch supports can help along with over-the-counter pain relievers and corticosteroid injections. If the condition has been allowed to progress too far, surgery to loosen the tendon holding the toes or a complete removal of the affected nerve may be necessary, though this only occurs in approximately 20% of cases.
Morton’s neuroma is a common foot ailment that is easy to avoid and treat with a little bit of attention and the right shoes. If you feel as if you are constantly walking on a fold in your sock or a stone in your shoe, call your podiatrist to make an appointment today. Those pains aren’t just in your head; they’re in your foot! And we can help you with that.
It’s strange that after all these years of blogging, we haven’t focused on one of the most common foot illnesses: hammertoes. When I say hammertoe, pictures of burly men hopping about and cursing after hitting themselves with a hammer comes to mind, but a hammertoe has nothing to do with hammers at all – except for the shape. A hammertoe is an abnormal bend in the middle joint of…you guessed it, your toes.
The characteristic “hammer” shape of the bent toe, usually the second, third, or fourth toe, can identify this condition. There is also a variation of this deformity called a mallet toe, which is a bend in the first joint of the toe (closest to the toenail). Essentially it looks like you have curled up a toe or two permanently. And unfortunately, unless the cause is remedied, it won’t uncurl. There are three main causes of hammertoes: the wrong shoes, sudden trauma, or a muscle imbalance.
Let’s face it, women are more likely to cram their feet into uncomfortable shoes for the sake of fun or fashion, which means women are also more likely than men to develop hammertoes. Just as waves crashing against rock slowly rub the stone down over time, so too will the wrong shoes forces your toes out of alignment, causing unpleasant side effects and potentially permanent damage. Toes that become bunched up inside tight or ill-fitting shoes can still give trouble, even when you switch to better shoes. Corns and calluses formed by constant friction make for unpleasant walking companions. Those with Morton’s Toe (a second toe that is longer than your first toe) need to be especially careful when choosing shoes as they are at increased risk of developing a hammertoe.
It seems obvious to say that direct trauma to a toe may deform it, but it takes a certain type of trauma to create a hammertoe. Those traumas include stubbing, jamming, or breaking your toe. It generally doesn’t just break into the perfect hammertoe shape though. Often these injuries can cause lasting bone deformity or lead to changes in toe flexibility or strength all of which can ultimately lead to a hammertoe.
Technically, all hammertoes are a result of a muscle imbalance. When an outside force (e.g. your shoes) pushes your toes in one direction or another, the muscles and tendons will stretch and contract to adapt to the shape. If they adapt too much and become loose or tight, this imbalance will remain long after you take your shoes off.These muscle imbalances may also be the result of a preexisting condition such as arthritis or be exacerbated by unrelated conditions like diabetes.
In the end, hammertoes are a relatively straightforward condition; things bend and stretch and if they are stretched one way too long it leads to deformity, thus, a hammertoe. Get these fixed as soon as you see them developing! If caught in the early stages, hammertoes may be fixed with protective padding, special taping techniques, custom orthotics, shoe and lifestyle changes, and exercise. If the hammertoe progresses too far, surgery may be the only option. Don’t let it get that far. See your podiatrist today about your hammertoes!
We have covered a lot of topics in our past blog posts, but something we haven’t really touched on is actually one of the most common foot ailments: Bunions. With over 3 million cases each year in the United States alone, bunions (aka. hallux valgus) are a common sight in podiatry offices.
A bunion occurs when the big toe pushes against the adjoining toes, forcing the big toe joint (metatarsophalangeal joint) outward. This creates a visible deformity of the foot and can be accompanied by redness, swelling, pain, and stiffness. Since this deformity can become quite pronounced, many people are able to “self-diagnose” the issue. As you can see in this photo, along with a bad case of farmers-tan, this gentleman probably noticed his bunions and sought treatment from his podiatrist.
There is a debate in the podiatric community about the cause of bunions. On the one side, podiatrists argue that bunions are formed due to genetic conditions such as flat feet, abnormal bone structure, or even certain neurological conditions. On the other side, we have those who say tight or ill-fitting footwear is the sole cause. This view tends to have the stronger following and is backed up by research. In a study of cultures that did not wear shoes, no bunions were found. That’s a pretty strong argument.
So, does this mean that everyone who wears shoes could form a bunion? Well, no, but with certain shoes, absolutely yes. Just as water slowly wears down rock, constant pressure from your shoes can force your toes to move in unnatural directions. Pointed toe shoes tend to be the biggest culprit. Shoes that are too narrow will eventually push your big toe towards or even over or under the adjoining toes. As this happens, the joint protrudes and becomes irritated. The large visible bump is partially caused by an inflamed bursal sac. Bunions may also occur on the outer side of the foot at the base of the little toe. This is called a Tailor’s Bunion.
READ MORE: Bursitis
So, what do I do if I have a bunion? Well, the first thing to do is go see your podiatrist. Even before you see a bump, if you have consistent pain in your big toe joint, make an appointment. For some bunions, treatment can be as simple as changing the type of shoes you wear or adding orthotics and padding. However, these options treat the symptoms and prevent worsening of the bunion, they do not take care of the underlying problem. For that, a simple surgical procedure may be required. Options include shaving down the bony protrusion and realigning the big toe into its proper position. Your podiatrist will discuss all the options with you and help choose the best procedure for your exact condition. Surgeries are typically outpatient procedures with a 6 to 8 week recovery time, during which crutches or orthopedic casts may be used.
If you have pain, redness, stiffness, or protrusion at the base of your big toe, go see your podiatrist. Early treatment means better healing and foot health. Don’t live your life with pain! (And don’t wear tight shoes!)
photo credit: Badly Drawn Dad <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/249661028">20060903_Pre-Op</a> via <a href="http://photopin.com">photopin</a> <a href="https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/2.0/">(license)</a>