Posts for: July, 2019
Understanding Claw and Mallet Toes
Think you may have mallet or claw toes? Mallet and claw toes form over years and are common in adults. Mallet and claw toes are among the most common toe problems. If you think you have mallet or claw toes, see a podiatrist right away. If you don't treat the problem right away, you are more likely to need surgery. Here's what you need to know about claw and mallet toes.
What Are Mallet and Claw Toes?
Mallet and claw toes are toes that are bent into an abnormal position. They may hurt or look odd, or both. These toe deformities usually occur in the small toes, not the big toes. Claw toe often affects the four small toes at the same time. The toes bend up at the joint where the foot and toes meet. This causes the toes to curl downward. Mallet toes often affect the second toes, but it may occur in the other toes too. Mallet toes bend down at the joint closest to the tip of the toes.
What Causes These Conditions?
Tight footwear is the most common cause of mallet and claw toes. Wearing tight footwear can cause the muscles of the toes to get out of balance. Less often, these conditions are linked with other conditions, such as rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes, stroke, or an injury to the ankle or foot. Women are affected more often than men because they are more likely to wear narrow shoes or high heels.
How Are They Diagnosed?
Your podiatrist will take a detailed medical history and ask about your daily activities and footwear. A physical examination comes next, in which the level of deformity and scope of pain will be assessed. Diagnosis of these claw and mallet toes is usually obvious from the physical exam. To further evaluate the joints and bones of your feet and confirm a diagnosis, your podiatrist may order x-rays or other imaging tests.
How Are They Treated?
Buying shoes with more room in the toes, filing down calluses and corns, and padding the toes most often relieve the pain. If you have pain, your doctor may put a splint or pad on the toe. A custom orthotic device may be placed in your shoe to help control the muscle/tendon imbalance and alleviate your pain. This keeps the toe from rubbing on the top of the shoe. Corticosteroid injections are sometimes used to ease pain and inflammation. If these steps don’t work, you may need surgery to straighten the toes.
Podiatric medicine a branch of science that is devoted to the study, diagnosis, and treatment of conditions of the ankle, foot, and lower extremity. Podiatrists diagnose and treat various foot problems, including claw and mallet toes. They offer a variety of treatments for claw and mallet toes. If you think you may have claw or mallet toes, a podiatrist in your area can help you achieve real relief.
A hammertoe is a common foot deformity that affects the middle joint of the smaller toes. As a result, this causes the toes to bend downward. Since this bend causes the joint to stick out this can put more pressure on the affected joints when wearing shoes, which can also make the deformity worse over time. As with most foot deformities a hammertoe will start out minor and continue to progress over time if left untreated.
During the earlier stages you may not notice much pain and discomfort. In fact the only way you may be able to tell that you have a hammertoe is by examining the foot and noticing that the small toes bend downward like a claw. Of course, at this stage the deformed joint is still flexible enough to be straightened out.
However, if the deformity progresses this can cause the joint to become rigid, which won’t respond effectively to simple conservative treatments. As you might imagine, the sooner you see a podiatrist to treat your hammertoe the better. Early intervention is key, as a hammertoe will not get better without the proper care.
Hammertoes are often the result of an imbalance in the muscle or tendon of the foot. Over time, this leads to structural changes in the foot. Genetics may also play a role in whether your feet are at risk for this deformity. A hammertoe can also be made worse by wearing shoes that are too tight and put too much pressure on the toes.
Along with the structural changes that occur with hammertoes it’s also common to experience redness, inflammation or the development of a corn or callus on the toe. If you are noticing symptoms of a hammertoe see your podiatrist for an evaluation. A simple physical exam is usually all that’s needed to diagnose a hammertoe; however, sometimes an x-ray will be performed in order to determine the extent of the deformity.
If you are dealing with a flexible hammertoe, more often than not simple nonsurgical treatment options are all that’s needed. Following simple treatment options and care can prevent the hammertoes from becoming rigid or painful. Some nonsurgical treatment options include:
- Wearing the appropriate footwear. This means wearing shoes that aren’t pointy or have high heels, which can put more pressure on the toes.
- Placing custom orthotics into your shoes, which can ease discomfort and prevent pain resulting in a muscular imbalance.
- Taking over-the-counter pain relievers such as ibuprofen, which can reduce both pain and inflammation.
- Splinting the toe or toes to keep them straight, which can also reduce stiffness, inflammation and pain.
- Applying protective non-medicated padding over the top of the toe to prevent a corn or callus from developing.
If your hammertoe is painful or rigid then you may need to discuss whether surgery is the best option for alleviating your symptom and correcting the deformity. If you are dealing with a hammertoe turn to a foot specialist for help.
Your ankle seems to hurt more and more every day—is it time to seek help? Your foot doctors at Big Sky Foot & Ankle Institute in Bozeman and Butte, MT, say, "Why wait?" Start feeling better and preserve your mobility with a complete podiatric examination. During this appointment, Dr. Dallin Greene or Dr. Nathan Judd can uncover the reasons for your ankle pain and show you ways to overcome it.
You and your ankles
Your ankles contain seven bones, including the lower leg bones, the fibula, and tibula. Bearing much of your body weight as you stand and move, your ankles withstand literally tons of pressure over the course of a day. As such, much can go wrong with their bones, joints, and connective tissues.
In particular, people who are extremely active(e.g. runners and tennis players) place substantial twisting forces on their ankles. Additionally, with time and age come wear-and-tear and conditions that impact the appearance and function of your ankles.
Ankle pain: sources, diagnosis, and treatment
Sources of ankle pain include:
- Sprain, a tearing or stretching of the connective tissue in the ankle (usually the result of a sudden, lateral twisting)
- Instability (from a previous injury such as a severe sprain)
- Fracture (an acute or stress fracture from overuse or playing sports)
- Arthritis (osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis)
- Bursitis (inflammation of the fluid-filled sacs which cushion the ankle joint)
- Fallen arches (i.e. flat feet)
- Tarsal tunnel syndrome (a compression of the nerve running down the inside of the leg to the ankle)
- Achilles tendinitis (an inflammation of the large tendon which connects the calf muscle and the heel)
At our offices in Bozeman and Butte, MT, Dr. Greene and Dr. Judd use a physical examination and X-ray imaging (sometimes including an MRI or CT scan) to determine the source of your ankle pain. Using this information, your podiatrist will craft a treatment plan to include some of the following:
- Bandaging (compression)
- Ibuprofen for pain
- Cortisone injections to reduce inflammation
- Shoe orthotics to correct gait issues which place undue stress on the ankles
- Physical therapy (specific stretching exercises help ease the pain of Achilles tendinitis)
Surgery is an option, too, but rarely is it the first choice.
Hurting? See one of our foot doctors today
Ankle pain is not a normal part of aging or foot function. If you hurt, please contact Big Sky Foot & Ankle for a consultation. For the Butte location, phone (406) 782-2278, and for the Bozeman office, call (406) 206-6366. Our foot doctors also have a satellite in Anaconda.