You should see a podiatrist immediately for most foot problems such as hammertoe, bunions, and toenail fungus. If left untreated, these conditions could cause further complications and the need for major surgical intervention down the road.
In the following sections, we will give you a basic understanding of each condition. We’ll also tell you how to recognize the symptoms of each one. Finally, we will list some of the possible treatment options to discuss with your doctor.
A Hammertoe is a deformity that causes the toe to pull back in the shape of a hammer and stay fixed in that position. It usually affects the second through the fifth toe. However, the big toe (great toe) can also become deformed in the same way.
The condition is usually caused by wearing shoes that are too narrow and force the toes to crowd together. Genetic factors may also play a role in who gets it and who doesn’t.
Women often present with the condition more than men, although it is not clear why. Most medical professionals assume that since women usually wear tight-fitting, high-heal shoes, that is probably the reason. However, more studies are needed to verify those conclusions.
Here are four of the more usual symptoms of hammer toe:
- Abnormal bending of one or more of the toes
- Friction and rubbing on the top of the affected toes
- Inflammation and discomfort
- Painful corns and calluses on the tops of the toes
There are several treatment options for hammer toe. They are mostly non-invasive and include:
- Physical therapy
- Wide shoes
- Toe pads and spacers
- Surgery in extreme cases
Also known as hallux valgus, a bunion is a deformity of the joint connecting the big toe to the foot. This condition is typically characterized by an abnormal bending of the big toe toward the other toes. The result is a large mound that develops outside the foot at the first metatarsal bone.
Women are more likely to have bunions than men. It is probably for the same reason as hammertoes: improper shoe selection. If left untreated, it could lead to bursitis and arthritis.
No one knows what causes bunions. Aside from wearing tight shoes, other causes may include:
- Rheumatoid arthritis
The most common symptoms of bunions include:
- Abnormal bending of the large toe inward toward the other toes
- Irritation of the skin around the large toe
- Severe discomfort, especially when walking
The most widely-used treatments for bunions are:
- Padding to help relieve pressure on the affected area
- Orthotic insoles
- Specially designed shoes
- Pain medications
- Surgery, when a permanent solution is needed
Toe nail fungus
The clinical name for toe nail fungus is Onychomycosis. It is a fungal infection that attacks above and below the surface of the toenail and is often comprised of molds, fungus, and yeast. It is prevalent mostly in men.
As with any fungal infection, dark, moist places are perfect breeding grounds. That is why the feet are so susceptible. By reducing the factors that improve the environment for toenail fungus, it has less of a chance to spread.
Keeping the feet dry by changing socks regularly is a good first step. Also, reducing sugar in the diet and practicing proper foot hygiene will go a long way to preventing the disease.
The main symptoms are:
- The toenail is thicker than normal
- Discoloration: yellow, green, white, black
- The toenail becomes brittle and prone to breaking
- Pain and inflammation in later stages
- Foul smell
Besides the unpleasantness of having the condition, if left untreated, it could lead to severe infection and progress to areas outside the toenail.
There are certain risk factors for toenail fungus. They are:
- Athlete’s foot
Here are some of the treatment options for toenail fungus:
- A healthy, low-sugar diet
- Foot baths and soaks
- Wearing breathable footwear
- Changing socks often
- Topical antifungal creams
- Oral medications prescribed by a docto
A final thought
You should see your podiatrist as soon as you notice symptoms. Pain is a reliable indicator that something is wrong. Please don’t wait until it becomes unmanageable.
You should schedule an appointment soon, especially if your symptoms are getting worse over time or you experience problems walking.
Call our Miami office at 305-912-6646.
Or in Hollywood at 954-998-6646.
You may also schedule an appointment using the convenient contact form provided. Thank you.