A hammertoe is a term used to describe a crooked, deviated, or contracted toe. Although the condition usually stems from muscle imbalance, it is often aggravated by poor-fitting shoes or socks that cramp the toes. Over a period of years, the tendons that move the toe up and down begin to pull the toe with unequal tension, and the toe then begins to buckle or become contracted, causing an abnormal "v"-shaped bending of the little toes. Patients with this condition often experience pain, swelling, redness and stiffness in the affected toes.
Causes of Hammertoes
While most cases of hammertoes are caused by an underlying muscle imbalance, it may develop as a result of several different causes, including arthritis, a hereditary condition, an injury, or ill-fitting shoes. In some cases, patients develop hammertoes after wearing shoes or stockings that are too tight for long periods of time. These patients usually develop hammertoes in both feet.
Treatment for hammertoes depends on the severity of the condition, but may include home remedies, anti-inflammatory medications, orthotics or surgery for severe cases. Surgery involves removing a small section of bone from the affected joint through a procedure called arthroplasty. Arthrodesis may also be performed to treat hammertoes, which involves fusing together one of the joints in the toe in order to keep it straight. This procedure requires the use of a metal pin to hold the toe in position while it heals.
An ingrown toenail is a common condition that involves the corner of the toenail growing into the skin of the toe, causing pain, swelling and infection. This can occur as a result of wearing shoes that are too small or tight, cutting the toenails too short, injury to the toenail or a naturally curved toenail. While this condition can affect any toe, it most commonly affects the big toe. If left untreated, an ingrown toenail is likely to develop an infection and may even require surgery to remove the nail.
Most ingrown toenails can be treated at home by soaking the foot in warm water, applying antibiotic cream to the area and wrapping the toe in gauze or bandages. It is important to keep the area clean to help prevent infection. Your doctor may also place a piece of cotton under the nail to separate it from the skin that it is growing into, encouraging growth above the edge of the skin. For more severe or recurrent cases, part of the nail and the underlying tissue may be removed in order to remove the infection. Removal can be done through a chemical, laser or other methods.
Patients can prevent ingrown toenails by protecting the foot from trauma and by wearing comfortable, well-fitting shoes. Patients with diabetes may be at a higher risk for infection or other complications of ingrown toenails, and should take special precautions to prevent them from occurring.
There are several different diseases that affect the nails, often as a result of a fungal or bacterial infection. Ingrown toenails are the most common nail ailment, involving the corners of the nails digging into the surrounding soft tissue, causing irritation and swelling. Fungal infection commonly affect the toenails (and sometimes the fingernails as well), as a result of exposure to a warm, moist environment, and cause thick, brittle and distorted nails.
Patients can notice infections within the toenails through symptoms such as:
- Pits and ridges
Treatment for nail diseases may include oral or topical medications. The nail may need to be removed for severe infections. Dr. Zarate will develop a customized treatment plan for you based on your individual condition. Patients can prevent nail conditions from developing by keeping the feet clean and dry, wearing shoes that fit well and clipping toenails straight across.
To learn more about our Podiatry Services, please contact us at (847) 475-0200 today to schedule an appointment.