When frigid weather comes around, closed toed shoes and boots are the norm du jour. Since we are typically in shoes for longer periods than normal, our feet take the brunt of the abuse from the enclosed environment. One of the side effects of this abuse is the development of corns and hammertoes.
What Are Hammertoes?
A hammertoe is a deformity where by one or more of the lesser toes are bent and cocked up. This can happen on any of the lesser toes (2-5). One or more toes may be involved, though the second and fifth toes are most often affected.
How does this happen? Each of the lesser toes have two small joints. Many times, ill-fitting shoes will force one or more toes to buckle in order for the foot “to fit into the shoe”. This buckling results in one of the two toe knuckles becoming prominent. This prominence begins to rub on the toe box of the shoe (the part of the shoe above your toes). Shortly a corn develops at that pressure point. This corn, or hard skin, is simply a build up of extra skin over a pressure point. There are no “roots” to this corn like a wart, which sinks roots deep into the skin. The other major factor which may lead to hammertoes is faulty mechanics of the foot. Without proper biomechanics, the foot and leg muscles begin to function out-of-sync, resulting in the formation of hammertoes.
What Are the Treatments Options for Hammertoes and Corns?
Treatment of corns can be accomplished by different methods. One treatment modality involves using over-the-counter, non-medicated pads placed over the corn to reduce the friction and irritation from the shoe. Another method involves performing a simple office surgery whereby the involved joint is remolded and reduced.
Finally, the last treatment modality is the use of orthotics, to optimize foot mechanics.
If you’re bothered by corns, hammertoes, or are looking for custom orthotics to correct biomechanics, our podiatrists at SEMI can help in determining your best options. Contact us today!
Dr. Kel Sherkin, DPM, FACFO
Printed: March 2007
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