Posts for category: Foot Issues
When most people think about foot deformities they most often think about bunions; however, hammertoes are just as common. This unassuming deformity comes about gradually, so you may not even notice it until it’s too late. “What is a hammertoe?” You might be wondering. A hammertoe affects the middle joint of a toe (often the smaller toes), causing the toe to bend downward. In severe cases, a hammertoe will look almost claw-like.
There are two kinds of hammertoes: flexible and rigid. As you might imagine, a flexible hammertoe is one in which you can still straighten the toe out. If you aren’t able to straighten the affected toe then this is a rigid hammertoe. A flexible hammertoe isn’t as serious as a rigid one; however, it’s important that you take care of your hammertoe to make sure that it doesn’t get worse.
While there is no way to cure a hammertoe there are simple measures you can take to prevent it from progressing. First and foremost, you need to take a look at the shoes you are wearing and make sure that they aren’t too tight. When you slip your feet into your shoes, does it cause your toes to bunch up against one another? If so then this could make your hammertoe worse.
Instead, opt for shoes with an ample toe box, which will allow your toes to wiggle and move around freely. If you have a structural imbalance within the foot this can leave you prone to foot problems such as hammertoes and bunions. To correct this imbalance, talk to your foot doctor about getting custom orthotics (shoe inserts), which can be placed into your shoes to help provide cushioning, support, and shock absorption for your feet.
If pain or stiffness does rear its ugly head you can choose to take an over-the-counter pain reliever like ibuprofen, which can tackle both pain and inflammation in one fell swoop, or you can place a towel-wrapped ice pack (never put ice directly on the skin, as it can cause severe burns) over the area for several minutes.
Just as you can buy pads to cover a bunion or callus, you can also buy a non-medicated protective pad to cover over a hammertoe. Since the deformed toe joint juts out this can leave the toe prone to calluses, which can cause pain when wearing shoes. To prevent a callus from forming, you can apply a protective pad over the deformed toe joint before putting on shoes.
Of course, if you are dealing with significant or frequent pain, or if the hammertoe is rigid, then you will want to turn to a podiatric specialist. In severe cases, surgery may be recommended to correct the disfigured joint.
Plantar warts are benign growths that develop on the bottom of your feet, and are caused by direct contact with the human papilloma virus (HPV). This is the same virus that causes warts on other areas of the body. Some people are more susceptible than others to HPV, and not everyone will develop plantar warts if they come into contact with the virus. Individuals with weak immune systems or damaged skin on the feet are at a higher risk for plantar warts.
Plantar warts most often develop on the weight-bearing areas of the foot - the heel or the ball of the foot - causing sharp, burning pain. They can appear as a single wart (solitary) or a cluster of warts (mosaic). Common symptoms may include:
- Pain or discomfort when walking or standing
- Thick, scaly skin that often resembles a callus
- Hard, flat growths with well-defined boundaries
- Tiny black specks (clotted blood vessels) that often appear on the surface of the wart
Most warts disappear with home care and do not require medical treatment. You can take steps to prevent and treat plantar warts, which include:
- Changing your shoes and socks daily
- Keeping your feet clean and dry
- Avoid picking at warts as the virus may spread
- Avoid direct contact with an individual who has plantar warts
- Checking your child's feet periodically
- Refrain from walking barefoot, especially in public areas like showers, swimming pools and locker rooms
- Never ignore skin growths or changes in your skin
You should always seek care from a podiatrist when warts interfere with your daily life, aren't responding to home treatments, or if you have circulatory disorders. Contact us if your warts:
- Change color or shape
- Cause unbearable pain and discomfort
- Interfere with activities
- Multiply or reappear
Without treatment, plantar warts can grow, spread and prompt new warts to grow as fast as the old ones disappear. If you can't confidently identify a growth on your foot, visit your podiatrist to ensure a correct diagnosis. Early diagnosis and treatment can decrease the risk of the wart spreading and multiplying.