Our Podiatrists In Cherry Hill, NJ & Ridley Park, PA Can Help You Find Relief From Your Bunions & Hammertoes
What are Bunions?
A bunion—also called Hallux Valgus—is a bump that appears inside the foot, around the metatarsophalangeal (MTP) joint (near the big toe). This bump is actually a bone protruding towards the inside of the big foot. Left untreated, bunions can cause severe pain and even hinder walking abilities.
Bunions are a common problem most women deal with, but men develop them too. Most people develop bunions from wearing poor-fitting shoes—though they can also be passed down genetically as well.
Types of Bunions
Bunions typically develop when the weight of your body falls unevenly on the joints and tendons in your feet. This is usually due to poor-fitting shoes or genetic deformities. The most common types of bunions include:
Tailors bunion: Also called a bunionette, Tailors bunions occur when the fifth metatarsal bone (smallest toe) starts to expand outward, forming a bony growth near the little toe.
Acute bunion: This condition causes bone masses to form near the toe joints as a result of bursitis.
Adolescent bunion: Teenagers may develop a bunion at the base of his or her big toe. This bunion may cause pain and can get worse over time without treatment.
How is a Bunion Treated?
If left untreated, bunions can become so painful that you might end up walking differently just to relieve the pressure. Because the MTP joint helps bear and distribute body weight while standing, bunions can seriously affect the foot’s ability to function properly.
To treat bunions, your healthcare provider will begin with conservative methods designed to relieve pressure and restore function. The most common conservative approaches to alleviating bunions include:
Shoe choice: Choose shoes with wide insteps, broad toes and soft soles and avoid shoes that are narrow, tight, or sharply pointed.
Custom orthotics: In order to relieve pressure from the affected areas, your doctor may recommend custom shoe inserts.
Forefoot products: Products like a bunion shield, night splint or bunion bandages may be prescribed to treat bunions.
Conservative approaches like these are designed to limit the progression of the bunion, relieve pain, and provide a healthy environment for the foot. In more serious cases, bunion surgery may be recommended. Schedule an appointment for a complete evaluation.
What is HammerToe?
Hammer toe is a deformity in the foot that causes toes to bend or curl in a downward fashion rather than point forward. This deformity is typically the result of a muscle imbalance between the tendons on top and the tendons on the bottom of the toe. Hammer toes can be flexible or rigid and they can affect any toe on your foot. Most cases of hammer toe are reported on the second or third toe.
Women are at a higher risk of developing hammer toe compared to men—this is usually a result of shoe choice. Hammer toes tend to worsen over time, so it’s important to seek medical treatment when they first begin to form. Because of this, hammer toe can become a serious problem—this is especially true for people with diabetes—that could affect your ability to walk.
Types and Causes of Hammertoe
There are generally two types of hammer toe: flexible and rigid. If the toe can still move at the joint, and the toe still moves, it is considered a flexible hammer toe. This form of hammer toe is the beginning stages of its development and it can be reversed non-surgically. If left untreated, your flexible hammer toe can become rigid, meaning the toe can no longer move on its own. These types of hammer toe usually require surgery to correct.
A hammer toe develops due to an imbalance of the muscles in the toes. The unbalance typically causes increased pressure on the tendons and joints in the toe, which when hammer toe develops. While poor shoe choice is typically the main cause of hammer toe, other common causes include:
Treating hammer toe varies depending on the severity of your condition. To treat mild hammer toe, your podiatrist will start with conservative methods—such as padding or anti-inflammatory medications. Flexible hammer toe can be corrected by simply wearing properly fitting shoes. Other treatments involve gently stretching the toes to relieve pain and reposition it.
If the toe has become rigid and is causing too much pain, your physician may choose to surgically remove the deformity. Surgery is performed to reposition the toe, remove deformed or injured bone, and realign tendons. Most procedures are performed on an outpatient basis and rarely require extended downtime or time away from work. Schedule an appointment with our Podiatrists for a complete evalutation.