Chances are you usually don’t give much thought to the complex structure of your lower limbs. But did you know that each of your feet is home to 26 bones, 33 joints and over 100 different muscles, tendons, and ligaments?
With so many components involved in allowing you to walk, run, jump and dance, there are just as many chances for you to develop painful and unsightly toe deformities. And though you may not have been aware of the intricacy of your feet, you most likely have an overall idea of what normal feet and toes should look like!
Whenever you become aware of anything unusual in your foot structure, you will definitely need the best treatment available to not only address the problem, but also correct it.
Here at Austin Foot and Ankle Specialists, our experts can provide podiatric care for foot and toe deformities. From bunions to hammertoes, we are ready to assist you in getting relief from your symptoms and prevent the deformity from becoming worse. We will thoroughly evaluate the severity of your toe condition in order to create a unique treatment plan just for you.
Common Toe Deformities
Bunions, hammertoes, mallet toes—as similar as some of these conditions might seem, there are plenty of differences that set them apart.
Also known as hallux valgus, this condition develops when the big toe angles toward the other toes at the metatarsophalangeal joint—the joint where your toe connects to the foot. As the toe continues to shift into this unnatural position, you will begin to notice a bony bump in the inner edge of the foot. When left untreated, a bunion can begin to cause pain and keep you from being active.
This is a condition that typically—though, not always—affects the second or third toe. It will become curled in an unnatural way, instead of staying relatively flat as it should. This abnormal curl is the result of a very obvious downward bend at the toe’s second joint.
This condition is quite similar to hammertoes. It also features a single abnormal bend, but instead of afflicting the second toe joint, mallet toes take place in the third joint (the joint closest to the tip of your toe).
Now, when there are two abnormal bends – one at the second and one at the third toe joints – the condition is called claw toe (named as such on account of its resemblance to a hooked claw). Usually, claw toe happens in all four of your small toes at the same time, and is often caused by a neurological problem.
Beyond giving your feet an unnatural appearance, toe deformities can also cause pain and discomfort, making it difficult to do simple things like wearing your favorite pair of shoes or participating in regular activities. The risk of developing calluses is also heightened due to the toe’s unnatural positioning, which causes pressure and friction on those deformed parts of the foot.
Treatment for Toe Deformities
As it is true with most health problems, from head to toe, it is best to address a condition at its early stages. In fact, as these conditions are progressive, they will likely become worse over time when left untreated.
But the good news is that nonsurgical care at early stages usually can help with managing symptoms and preventing the condition from becoming worse. Treatment options include:
- Stretching and strengthening exercises
- Modified footwear choices
- Pain medication
- Buddy taping
- Night splints
It is important that you keep in mind the goal of conservative treatment is to relieve any pain and discomfort you are experiencing and stop the deformity from becoming worse, so that you can live an active and pain free lifestyle. It is impossible to actually correct the shape of your foot without surgery.
We always aim to use nonsurgical methods, and surgical procedures are only recommended if the condition is causing severe pain and difficulty when walking.
That said, if that is your case, you can rest assured that at Austin Foot and Ankle Specialists you are in good hands. What’s even better, advances in surgical techniques have made these procedures less invasive and quicker to recover from than ever before.
Expert Care at Austin Foot and Ankle Specialists
So if your feet are starting to show unusual signs, or if a foot or toe deformity has started to cause you pain, come visit one of our offices in Austin, TX. Here, we will determine the root cause as to why your toe has moved out of position, and which type of treatment will be best to address your specific situation.
For more information on toe deformities—or any other foot and ankle problem, for that matter—call us at (512) 328-8900. We can also assist you in scheduling an appointment at one of our two convenient locations: Westlake Hills or Westgate.