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Genetics, lifestyle, and shoe wear all come into play with the development of foot deformities. Hammertoes and bunions especially are the typical result of cramped, ill-fitting shoes worn consistently for long periods of time, and as such, they are more common in women than men.
Bunions are uncomfortable and painful bony protrusions extending from the big toe on the side of the foot. Pressure on the big toe joint over time changes the structure of the bones in the joint, eventually causing the protrusion.
Bunions typically worsen over time and early detection and treatment will yield the best results. Early on, bunions may be treated with padding, orthotics, or other changes in footwear, while icing and certain medications can reduce the pain associated with bunions. More developed bunions may require a bunion correction surgical procedure that involves realigning the bones to restore function and reduce pain when walking.
Affecting the second, third, or fourth toes, hammertoe is a deformity involving the middle joint of a toe in which a curve develops, creating a V or hammer shape. Hammertoes are also associated with extended use of certain footwear, especially shoes with higher heels that force the toes down into a narrow toebox. Any cause of excess pressure on the tendons and joint of the toes can result in hammertoes, including foot trauma.
Hammertoes can often be treated with conservative measures such as medications, cortisone injections, taping, and orthotics. Severe cases may require a form of hammertoe correction surgery. Hammertoe correction surgery may involve partial or complete removal of the toe joint or other means of joint repositioning to remove pressure, restore function, and reduce pain.
The earlier bunions and hammertoes are detected, the more effective nonsurgical intervention will be in correcting the problem. If you think you may be suffering from a foot deformity, consult with our foot specialist by requesting an appointment online or calling (757) 324-3258.