Monthly Archives: June 2015

How To Treat Hammertoes Without Surgery

Hammer ToeOverview

If the joint on one of your toes, usually the toe next to the big toe or the smallest toe, points upward rather than lying flat, you might have a Hammer toe. The condition is actually a deformity that happens hammertoe when one of the toe muscles becomes weak and puts pressure on the toe?s tendons and joints. This pressure forces the toe to become misshapen and stick up at the joint. Also, there?s frequently a corn or callus on top of the deformed toe. This outgrowth can cause pain when it rubs against the shoe.

Causes

Hammertoes are more commonly seen in women than men, due to the shoe styles women frequently wear: shoes with tight toe boxes and high heels. Genetics plays a role in some cases of hammertoes, as does trauma, infection, arthritis, and certain neurological and muscle disorders. But most cases of contracted toes are associated with various biomechanical abnormalities of the feet, such as flat feet and feet with abnormally high arches. These biomechanical abnormalities cause the muscles and tendons to be used excessively or improperly, which deforms the toes over time.

HammertoeSymptoms

Symptoms of a hammertoe are usually first noticed as a corn on the top of the toe or at the tip which produces pain with walking or wearing tight shoes. Most people feel a corn is due to a skin problem on their toes, which in fact, it is protecting the underlying bone deformity. A corn on the toe is sometimes referred to as a heloma dura or heloma durum, meaning hard corn. This is most common at the level of the affected joint due to continuous friction of the deformity against your shoes.

Diagnosis

The exam may reveal a toe in which the near bone of the toe (proximal phalanx) is angled upward and the middle bone of the toe points in the opposite direction (plantar flexed). Toes may appear crooked or rotated. The involved joint may be painful when moved, or stiff. There may be areas of thickened skin (corns or calluses) on top of or between the toes, a callus may also be observed at the tip of the affected toe beneath the toenail. An attempt to passively correct the deformity will help elucidate the best treatment option as the examiner determines whether the toe is still flexible or not. It is advisable to assess palpable pulses, since their presence is associated with a good prognosis for healing after surgery. X-rays will demonstrate the contractures of the involved joints, as well as possible arthritic changes and bone enlargements (exostoses, spurs). X-rays of the involved foot are usually performed in a weight-bearing position.

Non Surgical Treatment

Early on, when a hammertoe first starts and is still flexible, here are some ways it might be treated. Your healthcare provider may splint or tape the toe into the correct, normal position. You can use your fingers to stretch your toes and toe joints toward a more normal position. Exercise your toes by trying to pick up marbles with them or by wadding up a towel on the floor with your toes. Padding may be used to change where your weight falls when you walk on the foot.

Surgical Treatment

If pinning the toe is not required during the procedure, then the surgery could be preformed in the doctor’s office under a local anesthesia. Some patients prefer the comfort of sedation during the surgery and if this is the case or if a pin must be placed, then the surgery could be preformed in an outpatient surgery center.

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Does Over-Pronation Of The Feet Necessitate Surgical Treatments

Overview

Overpronation is a term that gets thrown around a lot by psuedo-experts and there is so much written online about it, that it can get very confusing to determine what is legitimate and what is not. Pronation is a normal motion of the foot that occurs when the ankle rolls inwards and the arch collapses. This is normal. Its not something evil. Overpronation is assumed to be when there is too much of it. There certainly is debate as to just how much is too much, as some people have large amounts and have no problems, other have small amounts and do have problems. It all comes down to individual differences and how much force is needed to stop the foot moving. The greater the force, regardless of the amounts of pronation, the more likely it is to be a problem. Some still like to debate if it is a problem or not. Some studies have shown that its not a problem and other studies have shown it is. If the data from all these studies are pooled, then the conclusion was that, yes, overpronation is a problem that was statistically significant, but it was only a small risk factor for problems. An associated finding of overpronation during a gait analysis is an abductory twist.Pronation

Causes

Unless there is a severe, acute injury, overpronation develops as a gradual biomechanical distortion. Several factors contribute to developing overpronation, including tibialis posterior weakness, ligament weakness, excess weight, pes planus (flat foot), genu valgum (knock knees), subtalar eversion, or other biomechanical distortions in the foot or ankle. Tibialis posterior weakness is one of the primary factors leading to overpronation. Pronation primarily is controlled by the architecture of the foot and eccentric activation of the tibialis posterior. If the tibialis posterior is weak, the muscle cannot adequately slow the natural pronation cycle.

Symptoms

Overpronation can lead to injuries and pain in the foot, ankle, knee, or hip. Overpronation puts extra stress on all the bones in the feet. The repeated stress on the knees, shins, thighs, and pelvis puts additional stress on the muscles, tendons, and ligaments of the lower leg. This can put the knee, hip, and back out of alignment, and it can become very painful.

Diagnosis

You can test for pronation by looking at the leg and foot from the back. Normally you can see the Achilles Tendon run straight down the leg into the heel. If the foot is pronated, the tendon will run straight down the leg, but when it lies on the heel it will twist outward. This makes the inner ankle bone much more prominent than the outer ankle bone.Pronation

Non Surgical Treatment

There are exercises that you can do to help deal with the effects and treat the cause. Obviously you can opt for an insert into your shoe either by way of your sports shop or go see a podiatrist. Like anything in your body that is not working correctly; you will have to manage your condition. Don’t put off dealing with the problem as it will manifest associated issues along the alignment and as far up as your neck. If it’s mild pronantion, I suggest running barefoot. If you can’t do this then don’t wear shoes at all at home or in the office as much as possible. Give your calf muscles a huge stretch everyday as these with the ligaments from the foot up to the muscle get tight and are linked to your pain. Loosen your calf muscles as much as possible. Great exercise is to sit barefoot with a marble on the floor in front of you. Grab the marble with your toes and try to hold it tight in the middle of the base of your foot. Ping pong balls and even golf balls work. Do this each night and combined with calf stretches you’ll start to correct the muscle alignment gradually in the foot. Put more attention into massaging your feet, standing with a good posture, stretching your feet, ankles and calf muscles. Lastly, if you are fat this will not help at all. You must lose weight swimming, cycling and eradicating sugar and fat from your diet. The added strain on the foot by being a fat body compounds the problems and inhibits corrective results that you are after.

Prevention

With every step we take, we place at least half of our body weight on each foot (as we walk faster, or run, we can exert more than twice our body weight on each foot). As this amount of weight is applied to each foot there is a significant shock passed on to our body. Custom-made orthotics will absorb some of this shock, helping to protect our feet, ankles, knees, hips, and lower back.