Causes Of Hammertoe Problems

Hammer ToeOverview

Hammer toes is foot deformity that typically affects second, third or fourth toes. The condition is called hammertoe because of the unnatural position your toes form. Hammertoe causes your toe to bend upward at the middle joint in a way that looks similar to a hammer. While it may not be painful at first, this condition usually worsens with time and it becomes difficult to extend your toes. Sometimes, calluses or corns form in association with hammertoe.

Causes

Shoes that narrow toward the toe may make your forefoot look smaller. But they also push the smaller toes into a flexed (bent) position. The toes rub against the shoe, leading to the formation of corns and calluses, which further aggravate the condition. A higher heel forces the foot down and squishes the toes against the shoe, increasing the pressure and the bend in the toe. Eventually, the toe muscles become unable to straighten the toe, even when there is no confining shoe.

Hammer ToeSymptoms

For some people, a hammer toe is nothing more than an unsightly deformity that detracts from the appearance of the foot. However, discomfort may develop if a corn or callus develops on the end or top of the toe. If Hammer toes pressure and friction continue on the end or top of the toe, a painful ulcer may develop. Discomfort or pain can lead to difficulty walking.

Diagnosis

Your doctor is very likely to be able to diagnose your hammertoe simply by examining your foot. Even before that, he or she will probably ask about your family and personal medical history and evaluate your gait as you walk and the types of shoes you wear. You’ll be asked about your symptoms, when they started and when they occur. You may also be asked to flex your toe so that your doctor can get an idea of your range of motion. He or she may order x-rays in order to better define your deformity.

Non Surgical Treatment

If the problem is caught in the early stages you can avoid hammer toe surgery. One of the easiest methods of treatment is to manipulate the toe out of a bent position then splint and buddy wrap it alongside it?s larger neighbour. This method of hammer toe taping will help the problem to fix itself. Make sure the toe isn?t resuming its bent shape during the recovery. To alleviate some of the painful symptoms of hammer toe avoid wearing high heels or shoes that cramp or stifle your feet. Choosing a pair of minimalist shoes can be an excellent choice for both foot and postural health. Wearing shoes that give the toes plenty of space and are comfortable lined is also a smart choice. Hammer toe recovery starts be treating the toe respectfully. Soft insoles or protection for the corn can also provide additional assistance.

Surgical Treatment

Your podiatrist may recommend a surgical procedure if your hammertoes are not helped by the conservative care methods listed above. Surgery for hammertoes is performed to help straighten your crooked toe. Your surgery will be performed in your podiatrist?s office or at a hospital, depending on the severity of your hammertoe. A metal pin is sometimes used to help your affected toe maintain its straight position during your recovery.

Hammer ToePrevention

Preventative treatment of hammertoe is directed toward the cause of the deformity. A functional orthotic is a special insert that can be prescribed by your podiatrist to address the abnormal functioning of the foot that causes the hammertoe. Functional orthotics can be thought of as contact lenses for your feet. They correct a number of foot problems that are caused by an abnormally functioning foot. Our feet, much like our eyes, change with time. Functional orthotics slow down or halt this gradual change in the foot. Often when orthotics are used for flexible hammertoes, the toes will overtime straighten out and correct themselves. Calf stretching exercises are also helpful. Calf stretching can help to overcome part of the muscle imbalance that causes the hammertoe.

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Overpronation Of The Foot

Overview

Pronation refers to the inward roll of the foot during normal motion and occurs as the outer edge of the heel strikes the ground and the foot rolls inward and flattens out. A moderate amount of pronation is required for the foot to function properly, however damage and injury can occur during excessive pronation. When excessive pronation does occur the foot arch flattens out and stretches the muscles, tendons and ligaments underneath the foot.Foot Pronation

Causes

There may be several possible causes of over pronation. The condition may begin as early as birth. However, there are several more common explanations for the condition. First, wear and tear on the muscles throughout the foot, either from aging or repetitive strain, causes the muscles to weaken, thereby causing the foot to turn excessively inward. Also, standing or walking on high heels for an extended period of time also places strain and pressure on the foot which can weaken the tissue. Lastly, shoes play a very common factor in the development of over pronation. Shoes that fail to provide adequate support through the arch commonly lead to over pronation.

Symptoms

Common conditions that develop with prolonged overpronation typically include plantar fasciitis, achilles tendonitis, shin splints, posterior tibial stress syndrome and even IT band syndrome. With long term neglect you may see the development of bunyons, foot deformities and early onset of hip and knee arthritis.

Diagnosis

Do the wet foot test. Get your feet wet and walk along a paved surface or sand and look at the footprints you leave. If you have neutral feet you will see a print of the heel with a thin strip connecting to your forefoot, but if you’re overpronating your foot print will look a bit like a giant blob with toes.Over Pronation

Non Surgical Treatment

Podiatrists are trained to effectively detect and management over-pronation. You can get a referral to a podiatrist from your GP if you are presenting with the pain typical of over-pronation, or you can seek private podiatric care in anyone of several registered and accredited practices across the country. Your podiatrist will examine your foot and its shape to determine whether or not over-pronation is the cause of your pain. If your podiatrist determines that it is a problem with arch support that is giving you trouble, then they can effectively remedy that lack of support with orthotics.

Prevention

Duck stance: Stand with your heels together and feet turned out. Tighten the buttock muscles, slightly tilt your pelvis forwards and try to rotate your legs outwards. You should feel your arches rising while you do this exercise.

Calf stretch:Stand facing a wall and place hands on it for support. Lean forwards until stretch is felt in the calves. Hold for 30 seconds. Bend at knees and hold for a further 30 seconds. Repeat 5 times.

Golf ball:While drawing your toes upwards towards your shins, roll a golf ball under the foot between 30 and 60 seconds. If you find a painful point, keep rolling the ball on that spot for 10 seconds.

Big toe push: Stand with your ankles in a neutral position (without rolling the foot inwards). Push down with your big toe but do not let the ankle roll inwards or the arch collapse. Hold for 5 seconds. Repeat 10 times. Build up to longer times and fewer repetitions.

Ankle strengthener: Place a ball between your foot and a wall. Sitting down and keeping your toes pointed upwards, press the outside of the foot against the ball, as though pushing it into the wall. Hold for 5 seconds and repeat 10 times.

Arch strengthener: Stand on one foot on the floor. The movements needed to remain balanced will strengthen the arch. When you are able to balance for 30 seconds, start doing this exercise using a wobble board.