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Hammertoe is a painful foot deformity

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Posted by Tara under Health

Hammertoe is a painful foot deformity wherein the toe bends unnaturally.

Hammertoe can develop on any of the toes, but generally affects the middle three and, most often, the second toe.

When unusual stress is applied over a period of time, the joints and tendons of your foot can cease to function in a healthy and well balanced way. Toes in an effort to compensate start to bend into the hammertoe shape. Hammertoes also have a tendency to run in families.

Hammertoe can be caused when muscles malfunction and the toe joints bend over to form the hammertoe shape. If they remain in this position, the muscles and tendons supporting them tighten up and stay that way.  Medical conditions such as Diabetes and Arthritis are also common causes of Hammertoes.

The main causes of hammertoe include:

+ Squashing into too-small or ill-fitting shoes

+ Wearing high-heels that jam your toes into the toe box of the shoe.

+ Nerve or muscle damage from medical conditions including Diabetes and Arthritis.

The most visible sign of a hammertoe is bent toes; other symptoms include:

+ Pain and rigidity during movement of the toe joint

+ Painful corns on the tops of the toes or toes due to rubbing against the top of the shoe

+ Callus on the underneath the toes or ball of the foot

+ Pain in the ball of the foot

+ Redness or swelling of the toe joints

Prevention is better than cure:

As long as hammertoe causes no pain or any change in your walking or running gait, it isn't harmful and doesn't require treatment.  The key to prevention is to wear shoes that fit you properly and provide plenty of room for your toes.

Here's exactly how to get the appropriate fit:

+ Have your feet properly measured at the time of purchasing shoes

+ Make sure that while standing there is at least a centimeter (thumb width) of space for your longest toe at the end of each shoe

+ Buy shoes that fit the longer foot

+ Shop at the end of the day, when foot elongation is greatest

+ Don't go by numbers - shoe sizes vary by brand and by model even in the same brand

When to see a Foot Mechanics Podiatrist:

The hammertoe condition is usually irreversible, but often it's progression can be slowed or halted. You should visit a Podiatrist if the toe becomes painful and you have difficulty walking. A Podiatrist will be able to provide advice and treatment including orthotics to help maintain proper foot function and reduce excessive pressure on the ball for the foot created by the hammertoes.


Back Pain

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Posted by john under Health

A study published in the professional journal - Rheumatology has shown again that problems with foot function are associated with lower back pain. The study was part of a large study in Framingham during 2002-2005 which involved 1,930 people. Participants were identified as having either low arches (flat feet), high arches, or normal arches. Their foot function was studied while moving to identifying them as pronators (tendency of the foot to excessively roll-in and flatten while while walking), supinators (opposite of pronators), or normal-functioning feet. This was done using pressure sensor technology on their feet as they walked, providing insight about how the feet are functioning while walking.

What they concluded from the study was that female participants who pronated excessively during walking also had a greater incidence of low back pain. It wasn't exactly clear why the connection between back pain and foot function was more prevalent in women in this particular study.

Lower back pain is a complex problem which has a variety of possible causes. Some back pain sufferers may find improvement by identifying and addressing foot problems, especially flat feet. A Podiatrist can help identify any problems with foot function, for example excess pronation, which the study found to be linked to lower back pain in woman. The next step is addressing these problems, which will involve orthotics to address the foot function.

Orthotics are shoe inserts that support the foot's arch and can help decrease excess pronation while reducing stress on the feet. Some arch supports or orthotics maybe found in pharmacies or sports stores or online. They range from flimsy over-the-counter orthotics, offering hardly any support to high quality brands that offer good support and last longer than a few weeks.

Custom-made orthotics from a Podiatrist generally offer the most effective support, can be customized to address specific foot problems, and last several years.