Hammertoe Causes

Hammer ToeOverview

hammertoes, Claw and Mallet Toe are similar conditions, all caused by deformity of the toe joints. They usually develop slowly from wearing poor fitting shoes, but can also be due to muscle or nerve damage. Muscle Hammer toes imbalance causes the toes to bend into odd positions which can be extremely painful, limiting walking and activity. They become more common with aging and affect approximately 10-15% of the population. Women are five times more likely to suffer from hammer, claw or mallet toe than men.

Causes

Footwear is actually the leading cause of this type of toe deformity so much so that people sometimes require hammer toe surgery to undo some of the damage. The most common problem is wearing shoes that are too short, too narrow or too tight. These shoes constricts the feet and force the toes into a bend position. Women are more at risk especially due to high heels. Footwear isn?t the only problem, poor foot posture can lead to muscle and even bone imbalances. This asymmetry can cause excessive strain on the toes either by forcing the toe into unnatural positions. Arthritis can also play a factor in the development of hammer toe, especially if the toe joint is stiff and incapable of a full range of motion.

HammertoeSymptoms

Patients with hammer toe(s) may develop pain on the top of the toe(s), tip of the toe, and/or on the ball of the foot. Excessive pressure from shoes may result in the formation of a hardened portion of skin (corn or callus) on the knuckle and/or ball of the foot. Some people may not recognize that they have a hammer toe, rather they identity the excess skin build-up of a corn.The toe(s) may become irritated, red, warm, and/or swollen. The pain may be dull and mild or severe and sharp. Pain is often made worse by shoes, especially shoes that crowd the toes. While some hammer toes may result in significant pain, others may not be painful at all. Painful toes can prevent you from wearing stylish shoes.

Diagnosis

Hammertoes are progressive, they don?t go away by themselves and usually they will get worse over time. However, not all cases are alike, some hammertoes progress more rapidly than others. Once your foot and ankle surgeon has evaluated your hammertoes, a treatment plan can be developed that is suited to your needs.

Non Surgical Treatment

Putting padding between your toes and strapping them in place can help to stop pain caused by the toes rubbing. Custom-made insoles for your shoes will help to take the pressure off any painful areas. Special shoes that are wider and deeper than normal can stop your toes rubbing. However if your pain persists your consultant may recommend an surgery.

Surgical Treatment

If this fails or if treatment is not sought until the toes are permanently misaligned, then surgery may be required. Surgery may involve either cutting the tendon or fusing the joint. Congenital conditions should be treated in early childhood with manipulations and splinting.

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What Is Over-Pronation

Overview

During initial contact or heel strike, the ankle rolls inward, causing excessive pronation or flattening of the foot. This action forces the big toe (instead of the ball of foot and all toes) to do all the work to push off the ground. When the ankle overpronates, this causes the tibia (shin bone) to rotate and the femur (thigh bone) to adduct (move toward the mid-line of the body), causing internal rotation or knee valgus (knock-kneed).Foot Pronation

Causes

Over-pronation occurs when the foot collapses too far inward stressing the plantar fascia (the area underneath the arch of the foot.) Normally, one pronates every time he or she walks, but excessive pronation is called over-pronation. When this occurs it can cause pain in the feet, knees, hips, low back and even the shoulder. Decreasing over-pronation, which is very prominent in runners, will help add endurance, speed and efficiency to your run and ultimately place less stress on your body.

Symptoms

Due to the laxity of the soft tissue structures of the foot, and the fact that the joints are not held together properly, the bones of the feet shift. When this occurs, the muscles that attach to these bones must also shift, or twist, in order to attach to these bones. The strongest and most important muscles that attach to our foot bones come from our lower leg. So, as these muscles course down the leg and across the ankle, they must twist to maintain their proper attachments in the foot. This twisting of these muscles will cause shin splints, Achilles Tendonitis, generalized tendonitis, fatigue, muscle aches and pains, cramps, ankle sprains, and loss of muscular efficiency (reducing walking and running speed and endurance). The problems we see in the feet, which are due to over-pronation include bunions, heel spurs, plantar fasciitis, fallen and painful arches, hammertoes, metatarsalgia (ball of foot pain), and calluses.

Diagnosis

Look at the wear on your shoes and especially running trainers; if you overpronate it’s likely the inside of your shoe will be worn down (or seem crushed if they’re soft shoes) from the extra strain.Foot Pronation

Non Surgical Treatment

Studies have shown that the most effective way to dexrease a high Q angle and lower the biomechanical stresses on the knee joint is to prevent excessive pronation with custom-maflexible orthotics. One study found that using soft corrective orthotics was more effective in reduknee pain than a traditional exercise program. A more recent study showed that Q angle asymmetries, secondary to excessive pronation affecting knee alignment, can be effectivecontrolled or corrected utilizing custom-made, flexible orthotics. Another project involving meof a running club determined that 75% of those using orthotics eliminated or greatly reduced pain in the feet, ankles, shins, knees and hips

Prevention

Many of the prevention methods for overpronation-orthotics, for example-can be used interchangeably with treatment methods. If the overpronation is severe, you should seek medical attention from a podiatrist who can cast you for custom-made orthotics. Custom-made orthotics are more expensive, but they last longer and provide support, stability, and balance for the entire foot. You can also talk with a shoe specialist about running shoes that offer extra medial support and firm heel counters. Proper shoes can improve symptoms quickly and prevent them from recurring. Surgery can sometimes help cure and prevent this problem if you suffer from inherited or acquired pes planus deformity. Surgery typically involves stabilizing the bones to improve the foot?s support and function.