Definition and Causes of Hammertoe

Hammertoe, a common foot ailment, unfolds as a deformity characterized by an abnormal bending of the toe joints. The condition primarily affects the second, third, or fourth toe, causing it to resemble a hammer's curved shape. One of the key causes of hammertoe is an imbalance in the muscles and tendons that control toe movement, leading to joint misalignment. Wearing ill-fitting shoes with narrow or high toe boxes can exacerbate the problem, cramping the toes and impeding their natural movement. Additionally, genetic predisposition and certain medical conditions, such as arthritis or diabetes, may increase susceptibility to developing hammertoe. Understanding the definition and underlying causes of hammer toe is essential for early intervention. If you have developed hammertoe, it is suggested that you visit a podiatrist who can guide you toward successful treatment and prevention methods.

Hammertoes can be a painful condition to live with. For more information, contact one of our podiatrists of InStride Family Foot Care. Our doctors will answer any of your foot- and ankle-related questions.

Hammertoe

Hammertoe is a foot deformity that occurs due to an imbalance in the muscles, tendons, or ligaments that normally hold the toe straight. It can be caused by the type of shoes you wear, your foot structure, trauma, and certain disease processes.

Symptoms

  • Painful and/or difficult toe movement
  • Swelling
  • Joint stiffness
  • Calluses/Corns
  • Physical deformity

Risk Factors

  • Age – The risk of hammertoe increases with age
  • Sex – Women are more likely to have hammertoe compared to men
  • Toe Length – You are more likely to develop hammertoe if your second toe is longer than your big toe
  • Certain Diseases – Arthritis and diabetes may make you more likely to develop hammertoe

Treatment

If you have hammertoe, you should change into a more comfortable shoe that provides enough room for your toes. Exercises such as picking up marbles may strengthen and stretch your toe muscles. Nevertheless, it is important to seek assistance from a podiatrist in order to determine the severity of your hammertoe and see which treatment option will work best for you.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact our offices located in Concord, Charlotte, and Salisbury, NC . We offer the newest diagnostic and treatment technologies for all your foot care needs.

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The Allure of High Heels and How The Feet Are Affected

In the world of fashion, high heels have long been a symbol of elegance and femininity. Women don these stylish shoes to exude confidence and sophistication, often enhancing their overall appearance. The elevated stature achieved by wearing high heels can create a sense of empowerment, both physically and mentally. However, this fashion choice comes with a price, impacting the feet in various ways. The arching of the foot, a characteristic of high heels, can lead to strain on the calf muscles and alter the body's natural alignment. In addition, prolonged wear may contribute to foot pain, bunions, and other podiatric issues. Despite the potential risks, many women continue to embrace high heels as a form of self-expression. A podiatrist can further explain how wearing high heels can affect the feet. If you have foot, toe, or ankle pain as the result of wearing high heels, it is suggested that you visit this type of doctor for an exam and treatment.

High heels have a history of causing foot and ankle problems. If you have any concerns about your feet or ankles, contact one of our podiatrists from InStride Family Foot Care. Our doctors can provide the care you need to keep you pain-free and on your feet.

Effects of High Heels on the Feet

High heels are popular shoes among women because of their many styles and societal appeal.  Despite this, high heels can still cause many health problems if worn too frequently.

Which Parts of My Body Will Be Affected by High Heels?

  • Ankle Joints
  • Achilles Tendon – May shorten and stiffen with prolonged wear
  • Balls of the Feet
  • Knees – Heels cause the knees to bend constantly, creating stress on them
  • Back – They decrease the spine’s ability to absorb shock, which may lead to back pain.  The vertebrae of the lower back may compress.

What Kinds of Foot Problems Can Develop from Wearing High Heels?

  • Corns
  • Calluses
  • Hammertoe
  • Bunions
  • Morton’s Neuroma
  • Plantar Fasciitis

How Can I Still Wear High Heels and Maintain Foot Health?

If you want to wear high heeled shoes, make sure that you are not wearing them every day, as this will help prevent long term physical problems.  Try wearing thicker heels as opposed to stilettos to distribute weight more evenly across the feet.  Always make sure you are wearing the proper shoes for the right occasion, such as sneakers for exercising.  If you walk to work, try carrying your heels with you and changing into them once you arrive at work.  Adding inserts to your heels can help cushion your feet and absorb shock. Full foot inserts or metatarsal pads are available. 

If you have any questions please feel free to contact our offices located in Concord, Charlotte, and Salisbury, NC . We offer the newest diagnostic and treatment technologies for all your foot and ankle needs.

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Common Causes of Big Toe Joint Pain

The big toe, an important component of our locomotion, can succumb to discomfort and pain attributed to various factors. One prevalent culprit is osteoarthritis, which is a degenerative joint condition characterized by the breakdown of cartilage. The wear and tear over time can lead to inflammation and pain in the big toe joint. Gout, another common cause, arises from the crystallization of uric acid in the joint, triggering acute pain and swelling. Bunions, a deformity of the joint at the base of the big toe, exert pressure and cause pain. Additionally, turf toe, often prevalent in athletes, results from hyperextension of the big toe, leading to sprained ligaments and subsequent pain. Trauma or injury, ranging from fractures to dislocations, can also be a source of significant big toe pain. If you are experiencing pain in your big toe, it is strongly suggested that you seek the counsel of a podiatrist who can accurately diagnose and offer correct treatment plans.

Toe pain can disrupt your daily activities. If you have any concerns, contact one of our podiatrists of InStride Family Foot Care. Our doctors can provide the care you need to keep you pain-free and on your feet.

What Causes Toe Pain?

Most severe toe pain is caused due to a sports injury, trauma from dropping something heavy on the toe, or bumping into something rigid. Other problems can develop over time for various reasons.

Toe pain can be caused by one or more ailments. The most common include:

  • Trauma
  • Sports injury
  • Wearing shoes that are too tight
  • Arthritis
  • Gout
  • Corns and calluses
  • Hammertoe
  • Bunions
  • Blisters
  • Ingrown toenails
  • Sprains
  • Fractures (broken bones)
  • Dislocations

When to See a Podiatrist

  • Severe pain
  • Persistent pain that lasts more than a week
  • Signs of infection
  • Continued swelling
  • Pain that prevents walking

Diagnosis

In many cases the cause of toe pain is obvious, but in others, a podiatrist may want to use more advanced methods to determine the problem. These can range from simple visual inspections and sensation tests to X-rays and MRI scans. Prior medical history, family medical history, and any recent physical traumatic events will all be taken into consideration for a proper diagnosis.

Treatment

Treatments for toe pain and injuries vary and may include shoe inserts, padding, taping, medicines, injections, and in some cases, surgery. If you believe that you have broken a toe, please see a podiatrist as soon as possible.

If you have any questions please feel free to contact our offices located in Concord, Charlotte, and Salisbury, NC . We offer the newest diagnostic tools and technology to treat your foot and ankle needs.

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Get Professional Care for a Broken Foot or Ankle

Constant care and regular evaluation are important for a foot or ankle fracture. If left untreated, foot or ankle fractures can worsen over time and create more serious problems.

Don't wait to be examined if you believe you've experienced a foot or ankle fracture.

Assessment of Foot Wounds in Diabetics

The importance of addressing diabetic foot complications cannot be overemphasized. These issues are widespread and intricate, underscoring the need for proactive assessments by podiatrists. It is vital for all diabetic patients to undergo periodic foot evaluations to identify potential factors that may lead to ulcers or amputations, such as neuropathy, vascular problems, and deformities. Depending on their risk level, patients with abnormalities may require more frequent foot assessments. By implementing systematic examinations, risk assessments, patient education, and timely referrals, the prevalence of lower extremity complications can be reduced. If you are diabetic, it is strongly suggested that you schedule appointments with a podiatrist for ongoing evaluations of your feet. This proactive approach is essential to enhance your overall well-being and quality of life.

Wound care is an important part in dealing with diabetes. If you have diabetes and a foot wound or would like more information about wound care for diabetics, consult with one of our podiatrists from InStride Family Foot Care. Our doctors will assess your condition and provide you with quality foot and ankle treatment.

What Is Wound Care?

Wound care is the practice of taking proper care of a wound. This can range from the smallest to the largest of wounds. While everyone can benefit from proper wound care, it is much more important for diabetics. Diabetics often suffer from poor blood circulation which causes wounds to heal much slower than they would in a non-diabetic. 

What Is the Importance of Wound Care?

While it may not seem apparent with small ulcers on the foot, for diabetics, any size ulcer can become infected. Diabetics often also suffer from neuropathy, or nerve loss. This means they might not even feel when they have an ulcer on their foot. If the wound becomes severely infected, amputation may be necessary. Therefore, it is of the upmost importance to properly care for any and all foot wounds.

How to Care for Wounds

The best way to care for foot wounds is to prevent them. For diabetics, this means daily inspections of the feet for any signs of abnormalities or ulcers. It is also recommended to see a podiatrist several times a year for a foot inspection. If you do have an ulcer, run the wound under water to clear dirt from the wound; then apply antibiotic ointment to the wound and cover with a bandage. Bandages should be changed daily and keeping pressure off the wound is smart. It is advised to see a podiatrist, who can keep an eye on it.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact our offices located in Concord, Charlotte, and Salisbury, NC . We offer the newest diagnostic and treatment technologies for all your foot care needs.

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Various Risk Factors for Foot Neuropathy

Foot neuropathy, characterized by nerve damage in the feet, can be influenced by various risk factors. Diabetes stands as a primary risk factor, as prolonged high blood sugar levels can lead to nerve damage, causing sensory disturbances in the feet. Alcohol abuse is another significant factor, as excessive alcohol consumption can harm nerves and contribute to neuropathy in the feet. Vitamin deficiencies, particularly B vitamins, may also increase the risk of foot neuropathy. Certain medications, such as chemotherapy drugs and those used to treat HIV, can have neuropathy as a side effect. Physical trauma, repetitive stress, or injuries to the feet can damage nerves and lead to neuropathy. Autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis and lupus may trigger autoimmune responses that damage nerves in the feet. Hereditary factors, including a family history of neuropathy, could elevate the risk. Awareness of these diverse risk factors is vital for early detection and prevention of foot neuropathy. If you suffer from this condition, it is suggested that you schedule an appointment with a podiatrist for an examination and appropriate treatment.

Neuropathy

Neuropathy can be a potentially serious condition, especially if it is left undiagnosed. If you have any concerns that you may be experiencing nerve loss in your feet, consult with one of our podiatrists from InStride Family Foot Care. Our doctors will assess your condition and provide you with quality foot and ankle treatment for neuropathy.

What Is Neuropathy?

Neuropathy is a condition that leads to damage to the nerves in the body. Peripheral neuropathy, or neuropathy that affects your peripheral nervous system, usually occurs in the feet. Neuropathy can be triggered by a number of different causes. Such causes include diabetes, infections, cancers, disorders, and toxic substances.

Symptoms of Neuropathy Include:

  • Numbness
  • Sensation loss
  • Prickling and tingling sensations
  • Throbbing, freezing, burning pains
  • Muscle weakness

Those with diabetes are at serious risk due to being unable to feel an ulcer on their feet. Diabetics usually also suffer from poor blood circulation. This can lead to the wound not healing, infections occurring, and the limb may have to be amputated.

Treatment

To treat neuropathy in the foot, podiatrists will first diagnose the cause of the neuropathy. Figuring out the underlying cause of the neuropathy will allow the podiatrist to prescribe the best treatment, whether it be caused by diabetes, toxic substance exposure, infection, etc. If the nerve has not died, then it’s possible that sensation may be able to return to the foot.

Pain medication may be issued for pain. Electrical nerve stimulation can be used to stimulate nerves. If the neuropathy is caused from pressure on the nerves, then surgery may be necessary.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact our offices located in Concord, Charlotte, and Salisbury, NC . We offer the newest diagnostic and treatment technologies for all your foot care needs.

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Understanding the Differences Between Adult and Children's Feet

The journey from childhood to adulthood is marked by numerous transformations, and the evolution of your feet is no exception. Children's feet, characterized by their pliability and cartilage dominance, are more susceptible to external influences. Their arches may appear flat, and the bones are still developing. As children age, these structures solidify, forming the more defined arches and shapes typical of adult feet. Moreover, the fat pads on children's feet provide natural cushioning, while adults may experience thinning of these pads over time. The growth patterns and proportions differ significantly, with children's feet being relatively wider in comparison to their length. Recognizing these distinctions is vital for selecting appropriate footwear and addressing potential concerns in either developmental stage. If you would like additional knowledge about how adult and children’s feet vary, it is suggested that you confer with a podiatrist.

The health of a child’s feet is vital to their overall well-being. If you have any questions regarding foot health, contact one of our podiatrists of InStride Family Foot Care. Our doctors can provide the care you need to keep you pain-free and on your feet.

Tips for Keeping Children's Feet Healthy

  • Make sure their shoes fit properly
  • Look for any signs of in-toeing or out-toeing
  • Check to see if they have Clubfoot (condition that affects your child’s foot and ankle, twisting the heel and toes inward) which is one of the most common nonmajor birth defects.
  • Lightly cover your baby’s feet (Tight covers may keep your baby from moving their feet freely, and could prevent normal development)
  • Allow your toddler to go shoeless (Shoes can be restricting for a young child’s foot)
  • Cut toenails straight across to avoid ingrown toenails
  • Keep your child’s foot clean and dry
  • Cover cuts and scrapes. Wash any scratches with soap and water and cover them with a bandage until they’ve healed.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact our offices located in Concord, Charlotte, and Salisbury, NC . We offer the newest diagnostic and treatment technologies for all your foot care needs.

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Types of Ingrown Toenails

Ingrown toenails, a common foot ailment responsible for approximately 20 percent of podiatric visits, can be attributed to a variety of causes. Among these, improper nail trimming plays a significant role, as cutting nails too short or rounding them incorrectly encourages ingrowth. Wearing tight shoes or high heels that exert pressure on the toes is another prevalent cause. Trauma to the toe, such as injuries, can also contribute to the formation of an ingrown toenail. Three main types of ingrown toenails are categorized by their location on the toe. The lateral ingrown toenail, occurring most frequently, involves the side of the nail edge growing into the skin at the sides of the toe. A distal ingrown toenail can occur when the nail edge grows or curls into the skin at the end of the toe, where the top of the nail meets the skin. Proximal ingrown toenails happen when the nail grows into the skin at the base of the toe, near the cuticle area. This type is characterized by new toenail growth pushing the old nail upwards, causing it to become thick and embedded. Avoiding excessive shortcuts and wearing well-fitted footwear can significantly diminish the risk of ingrown toenails. In instances of persistent discomfort or suspected ingrown toenails, seeking professional advice from a podiatrist is suggested. Podiatrists possess the expertise to accurately diagnose the issue, determine the severity and type of ingrown toenail, and suggest suitable treatment options. 

Ingrown toenails can become painful if they are not treated properly. For more information about ingrown toenails, contact one of our podiatrists of InStride Family Foot Care. Our doctors can provide the care you need to keep you pain-free and on your feet.

Ingrown Toenails

Ingrown toenails occur when a toenail grows sideways into the bed of the nail, causing pain, swelling, and possibly infection.

Causes

  • Bacterial infections
  • Improper nail cutting such as cutting it too short or not straight across
  • Trauma to the toe, such as stubbing, which causes the nail to grow back irregularly
  • Ill-fitting shoes that bunch the toes too close together
  • Genetic predisposition

Prevention

Because ingrown toenails are not something found outside of shoe-wearing cultures, going barefoot as often as possible will decrease the likeliness of developing ingrown toenails. Wearing proper fitting shoes and using proper cutting techniques will also help decrease your risk of developing ingrown toenails.

Treatment

Ingrown toenails are a very treatable foot condition. In minor cases, soaking the affected area in salt or antibacterial soaps will not only help with the ingrown nail itself, but also help prevent any infections from occurring. In more severe cases, surgery is an option. In either case, speaking to your podiatrist about this condition will help you get a better understanding of specific treatment options that are right for you.

If you have any questions please feel free to contact our offices located in Concord, Charlotte, and Salisbury, NC . We offer the newest diagnostic and treatment technologies for all your foot and ankle needs.

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Managing Charcot-Tooth-Marie Disorder

Charcot-Marie-Tooth disorder, or CMT, is an inherited neurological disorder that affects individuals globally. CMT is characterized by a gradual degeneration of muscles in the foot, lower leg, hand, and forearm, accompanied by a mild loss of sensation in limbs, fingers, and toes. The initial signs of Charcot-Marie-Tooth disorder are often a high-arched foot or difficulties in walking. Additional symptoms can include foot bone abnormalities like hammer toes, challenges with balance, occasional muscle cramping in lower legs, and loss of reflexes. While there is currently no cure for CMT, proper foot care, including wearing custom-made shoes and leg braces, can alleviate discomfort and help retain function. Moderate activity are often recommended to maintain muscle strength, with adaptive devices or surgery considered based on medical indications. Most individuals can continue to work, and wheelchair confinement is rare. For help in managing Charcot-Marie-Tooth disorder, it is suggested that you schedule an appointment with a podiatrist.

Some foot conditions may require additional professional care. If you have any concerns, contact one of our podiatrists of InStride Family Foot Care. Our doctors can provide the care you need to keep you pain-free and on your feet.

Rare Foot Conditions

The majority of foot conditions are common and can be treated by a podiatrist.  Standard diagnostic procedures are generally used to identify specific conditions and treatment can be rendered. A podiatrist also treats rare foot conditions which can be difficult to diagnose and may need extra attention and care. 

There are many rare foot conditions that can affect children. Some of these can include:

  • Freiberg’s disease
  • Kohler’s disease
  • Maffucci syndrome

Freiberg’s disease - This can be seen as a deterioration and flattening of a metatarsal bone that exists in the ball of the foot. It typically affects pre-teen and teenage girls, but can affect anyone at any age. Symptoms that can accompany this can be swelling, stiffness, and the patient may limp. 

Kohler’s disease - This often targets the bone in the arch of the foot and affects younger boys. It can lead to an interruption of the blood supply which ultimately can lead to bone deterioration. The patient may limp or experience tenderness, swelling, and redness.

Maffucci syndrome - This affects the long bones in a child’s foot leading to the development of abnormal bone lesions. They are benign growths and typically develop in early childhood and the bones may be susceptible to breaking. 

A podiatrist can properly diagnose and treat all types of rare foot conditions. If your child is affected by any of these symptoms or conditions, please don’t hesitate to call our office so the correct treatment method can begin.

If you have any questions please feel free to contact our offices located in Concord, Charlotte, and Salisbury, NC . We offer the newest diagnostic tools and technology to treat your foot and ankle needs.
 

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We Can Treat Your Foot or Ankle Pain

Foot or ankle pain can negatively affect your day-to-day life and can occur due to several different conditions. Pain can also be an indicator of a more serious underlying condition, which is why you should seek professional help as soon as you notice any abnormalities in your feet.

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