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.
Are you dealing with heel pain? If so, you aren’t alone. Foot pain, particularly heel pain, is one of the most common complaints and most people will deal with pain at some point during their lifetime. Whether you are on your feet all day for work or you are a runner, there are many risk factors that can play into your likelihood to deal with heel pain. If heel pain is happening to you, you may be wondering what’s causing it and how you can get rid of the pain quickly.
Causes of Heel Pain
As you might imagine, there are many reasons why you might be experiencing heel pain. The root cause will also determine the best course of action for getting your symptoms under control while providing the optimal healing environment for a speedy recovery.
The most common cause of heel pain is an acute inflammatory condition known as plantar fasciitis, in which the thick band of tissue that runs along the soles of the feet from the toes to the heel (known as the plantar fascia) becomes inflamed. Of course, there are other reasons people experience heel pain. Other causes include:
- Achilles tendinitis
- Achilles tendon rupture
- Stress fracture
- Tarsal tunnel syndrome
- Heel spur
- Osteomyelitis (an infection of the bone)
- Page’s disease of bone
- Peripheral neuropathy
Heel Pain Treatment Options
For more mild-to-moderate cases of heel pain, your podiatrist may recommend simple conservative treatment options that you can incorporate into your daily routine from the comfort of home. This is usually the first course of action, unless the condition is more serious. Only once we’ve exhausted at-home care and pain is still present do we decide on more aggressive tactics for handling your symptoms.
Common at-home heel pain treatment options include:
- OTC pain relievers (e.g. ibuprofen)
- Icing the heel several times a day
- Bracing or splinting the foot
- Wearing custom orthotics (shoe inserts)
- Wearing protective and supportive shoes
- Resting and avoiding certain activities or high-impact exercises
If you’ve tried these treatment options for weeks and still don’t notice any change in your symptoms—or if symptoms get worse—then it’s time to visit your foot doctor again to determine the next step. If pain and swelling are severe we may recommend steroid injections, extracorporeal shockwave therapy (ESWT) or ultrasound therapy. In rare cases, surgery may be necessary to correct the imbalance, deformity, or problem that’s causing your chronic or severe heel pain.
Don’t let heel pain affect your day-to-day life when there are simple and easy solutions to manage your symptoms and promote faster healing. Turn to a podiatrist who will be able to handle your heel pain and get your foot health back on track.
Your child awoke in the middle of the night complaining that they didn’t feel well. Your first reaction is to put your hand up to their forehead to see if they have a fever. Of course, if their head feels warm the next step is to take their temperature to see if they are actually running a fever. While most children will experience a fever at some point, it’s important to know when you can treat the problem at home and when you need to visit a pediatrician immediately.
Most of the time a fever isn’t anything to worry about, especially if your child is otherwise healthy. A fever is the body’s way of fighting off the infection, after all; however, there are instances in which you will want to call your children’s doctor to find out whether you need to come in for care.
We believe in a parent’s intuition, so if it seems like something just isn’t right, you should give us a call and find out if your child’s symptoms or behaviors are something that need to be handled right away. Your child’s exact temperature and their age are two very important factors when it comes to whether or not your child should receive medical attention.
It’s important to call your pediatrician if your baby is under 3 months old and has a temperature of 100.4 F or higher. A baby between the ages of 3 to 6 months old that has a fever of 101 F or higher (or has a fever that lasts more than a day) should also see a pediatric doctor. If your child is between the ages of 6 months and one year old and has a temperature at or above 103 F or has a fever lasting more than a day, give us a call.
Other times to call a pediatrician include:
- A high fever that lasts more than a day in children who are 1 to 2 years old
- A child that has a fever of 104 F or higher (age does not matter in this case)
- A fever that is accompanied by vomiting or diarrhea
- Signs of dehydration along with a fever
- A fever that is also accompanied by a rash
- Children who have weak or compromised immune systems and develop a fever
If your child’s fever doesn’t require a visit to your pediatrician you can try applying warm compresses or bathing your child in lukewarm water to help ease their symptoms. Never use cold water or ice to bring down a fever.
If in doubt, don’t hesitate to call your pediatrician to find out what you should do about your child’s fever.
As you age, it becomes even more important to take care of yourself, especially your feet. Foot health tends to decline in seniors for many reasons, including:
∙ Years of walking
∙ Improper footwear
∙ Poor circulation
∙ Diseases related to foot problems such as diabetes and gout
∙ Improperly trimming toenails
When problems are ignored, they may worsen and lead to more dangerous issues. There are easy ways to take care of aging feet and nonsurgical treatments to relieve pain.
When to talk to your doctor
It’s important to know when symptoms are just common aches and pains and when they might be something more serious. Even if your pain isn’t related to something serious, you still need to take care of your feet since they are the foundation of the body. Aging foot pains may cause pain in the knees, hips, or back.
Some symptoms to look out for are:
∙ Brittle or discolored toenails
∙ Discoloration or cold/numb feet
∙ Severe pain in feet and ankles
∙ Blisters or cracked skin
∙ Sores and wounds
Tips for maintaining healthy feet
Taking care of feet is simple and will pay off in the long run. Some easy tips for foot health are:
∙ Inspect your feet and nails regularly
∙ Use soap to wash your feet and always thoroughly dry them
∙ Use lotion to prevent dry, itchy, and cracked skin
∙ Wear properly fitted shoes and clean socks
∙ Trim your toenails regularly
∙ Don’t cross your legs
∙ Elevate your feet when seated
Taking care of aging feet is simple, and your dedicated foot doctors are here to help. Foot care is something you shouldn’t avoid, and individuals that aren’t able to take care of their feet are encouraged to see their podiatrist for foot care appointments. If you have any questions about taking care of your aging feet, call our office today to make an appointment!
What is a Bunion?
What Causes Bunions?
How a Podiatrist Can Help
Prevention is Key
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