Posts for: May, 2017
A hammertoe is one of the most common toe conditions, usually stemming from muscle imbalance in which the joints of the second, third, fourth or fifth toe are bent into a contracted, claw-like position. In the early stages, hammertoes are flexible and can be corrected with simple conservative measures, but if left untreated, they can become fixed and require surgery.
The most common cause of hammertoe is a muscle imbalance. Tight-fitting and high-heeled shoes often aggravate the condition, crowding your toes forward. A hammertoe can also be the result of an injury in which you break or jam the toe, or from conditions like arthritis or stroke that affect nerves and muscles. In some cases, hammertoes may even be inherited.
Because of their clenched, claw-like appearance, hammertoes will generally be visibly present. Other signs and symptoms include:
- Difficult or painful motion of a toe joint
- Redness or swelling at a toe joint
- Development of calluses and corns
- Open sores in severe cases
The foot and ankle professionals at our office recommend the following for preventing and reducing the symptoms associated with hammertoe:
- Wear comfortable, proper-fitting shoes that provide support and allow enough room for your toes
- Avoid high-heeled or narrow-toed shoes
- Stretch your toe muscles to relieve pressure and pain
- Apply splints, cushions or pads to relieve pressure
- Moisturize with cream to keep the skin soft
Generally, a modification of footwear will reduce the symptoms associated with hammertoe. Other non-surgical treatment includes padding to shield corns and calluses and orthotic devices that are placed in the shoe to help control muscle imbalance. We can help you determine the best treatment for your symptoms. Severe cases that don't respond to conservative measures may require surgery to restore your toe's flexibility and eliminate the pressure.
Hammertoes are progressive - they don't go away by themselves and the condition usually gets worse over time. Once a podiatrist at has evaluated your hammertoe, a treatment plan can be developed that is suited to your needs.
If you're a runner, it goes without saying that your feet take the brunt of the punishment. In fact, for runners the feet are more vulnerable to injury than any other part of the body. Luckily, both long-distance runners and casual joggers can improve their performance by paying extra attention to their feet and taking steps to prevent common foot problems. Poor fitting footwear is often the source of many foot problems caused by running. A visit to our practice can help you determine the best shoes for your foot structure.
A Runner's Roadblock
While many running-related foot injuries can result from a fall or twisted ankle, most running injuries are caused by overuse, meaning the majority of runners experience foot and ankle pain because they do too much for too long. Runners should be aware of the signs of foot problems that can slow them down if not treated promptly. Common foot and ankle injuries experienced by runners include:
Achilles Tendonitis: Achilles tendonitis and other calf-related injuries are prevalent in runners. Poor training, overuse and improper footwear are the three most common reasons for this condition. A sudden increase in distance or pace can strain the muscles and tendons in the foot and ankle, causing small tears within these structures that result in pain and inflammation. Appropriate shoes and training are the most important steps to preventing Achilles tendonitis. Conservative treatment includes rest, ice, stretching and sometimes orthotics or physical therapy.
Heel Pain: Runners develop heel pain more than any other foot-related injury. Plantar fasciitis is the most common cause of heel pain, the result of placing excessive stress on the ligament in the bottom of the foot. Rest, stretching and support are the best ways to ease the pain and inflammation. Reduce your mileage and avoid hill and speed workouts. Stretch before and after you run, and ice your heel after each workout. Special splints and shoe inserts from our practice may also provide support and relief for your heel pain.
Stress Fractures: Stress fractures are small cracks in the surface of a bone. Runners generally notice gradual muscle soreness, stiffness and pain on the affected bone, most often in the lower leg or the foot. Early diagnosis is critical, as a small fracture can spread and eventually become a complete fracture of the bone. Stress fractures are typically caused by increasing training more quickly than the body's ability to build up and strengthen the bone.
If you have symptoms of a stress fracture, you should stop running immediately and see a podiatrist. This injury can keep a runner off the track for several weeks, and is not an injury that you can run through. Depending on the severity of the stress fracture, a cast may be necessary.
If you experience chronic foot pain from running, make an appointment with a podiatrist. Leaving foot injuries untreated could result in more serious conditions, ultimately keeping you from your best performance. Keep in mind that these are not the only foot ailments caused by running, and when at-home foot care isn't effective, you'll need to be evaluated by a podiatrist. As in most cases, prevention is the best medicine. Good footwear, proper training and recognizing a problem before it becomes serious are your keys to staying on the road and avoiding foot injuries.