Mobility without pain and discomfort is one of the characteristics that define quality of life for many people. After all, standing and walking are involved in almost every activity whether you’re working, playing nine holes at your local golf course, or chasing after your grandchildren. For this reason, keeping your feet and ankles healthy is an important part of your overall health.
In a perfect world, everyone would be born with perfect feet. But the reality is that people inherit a particular foot type or shape that make them prone to developing certain foot conditions like bunions and hammertoes. Add to the mix a weakness for stylish footwear that may not fit correctly, and you begin to see the complexities of foot health.
Hammertoes usually occur on your second, third, or fourth toe. The affected toe bends at the middle joint and points upward like a hammer. This condition occurs more frequently with people with high arches, flat feet, weak or unstable joints, or when certain toes are longer than others.
A bunion is a bony bump at the base of your big toe, which makes the toe turn inward — this happens over time, a gradual changing of the angle of the bones at the joint produce the visible bump. Bunions are more prominent with people who have flat feet, low arches, and weak or loose joints and tendons.
The good news is you don’t have to live with the painful and sometimes debilitating consequences of these conditions. Board-certified podiatrist Suchir K. Sheth, DPM, and the highly skilled team at Cardio Metabolic Institute offer their advice for stopping hammertoes and bunions in their tracks.
Wear supportive shoes that fit well
Hammertoes and bunions are common foot issues that affect both men and women. However, footwear choices often put women at a higher risk category for foot issues, particularly bunions. Stylish high heels may look great, but these often tight and narrow shoes are contributing to the high incidence of bunions cases among women. An astounding nine out of 10 women suffer from bunions.
When shoe shopping, both men and women can look for some simple characteristics to minimize the risk or further damage from hammertoes and bunions. The fit is key. Look for adequate room in the toe box — the front part of the shoe that covers your toes. Look for shoes that provide good support for your arches. And just say no to pointy, high-heeled shoes.
Custom insoles and orthotics
If you already have hammertoes or bunions, keeping the conditions from progressing and from causing undue pain and discomfort are important factors in managing them. Depending on your condition and its severity, Dr. Sheth may recommend custom shoe inserts, insoles, or other orthotics to lessen pain and to help control any tendon or muscle imbalance issues.
Simple remedies like over-the-counter padding can also help. Dr. Sheth can guide you to the products that are best suited for you.
Early evaluation and treatment
As with any medical condition, it’s best to get hammertoes and bunions evaluated early on so you can begin appropriate treatment right away. Neither condition goes away on its own, and both worsen over time. In some cases, delaying treatment may cause irreversible damage.
Pain, stiffness, inflammation, or an abundance of painful corns and calluses are signs that something just isn’t right. Getting a comprehensive evaluation can lead to a treatment plan that puts you on the road to feeling less pain and getting back to your normal activities.
In severe cases or when conservative treatment options fail, Dr. Sheth recommends surgery. Outpatient hammertoe correction surgery enables Dr. Sheth to remove damaged tissue and, when necessary, fuse bones and cut out toe joints. By performing a bunionectomy, Dr. Sheth not only removes the painful, bony bump, but also removes bone fragments or damaged tissue while repositioning your big toe.
The best way to find out what you’re dealing with is to schedule a comprehensive foot evaluation before a little problem develops into a big one. If you have concerns about your foot health, make an appointment at Cardio Metabolic Institute in Somerset, Monroe Township, or East Brunswick, New Jersey. Click or call today for an appointment at the office nearest you.