Shoes for hammertoes
by Nathan Wei, MD, FACP, FACR
Nathan Wei is a nationally known board-certified rheumatologist and author of the Second Opinion Arthritis Treatment Kit. It's available exclusively at this website... not available in stores.
Click here: Second Opinion Arthritis Treatment Kit
Information from the American Medical Podiatric Association and the CDC
Foot problems are very common. Annually, in the United States, 43 million people have foot complaints and 15 million of them seek medical attention.
Twelve per cent of the U.S. population has foot surgery every year, and health costs due to foot care total $3 billion per year.
Foot problems are more common in shoe-wearing societies, and are more common in women than in men. There is also a correlation between fashionable shoe wear and foot problems. Foot disorders are also more common as people get older.
Hammertoes is a problem where toes bend down at the tip. The more proximal joint is pushed up as the end of the toe bends down. Hammertoe occurs most commonly with the second toe, but any of the other toes can also be affected.
The joints may become permanently fixed in this position. Hammertoes can be hereditary or be caused by a bunion, a disorder of the nerves, high arches or a weakening of the arch muscles that control the base of the toe. Hammertoes can also be caused by shoes that do not fit properly or socks that cramp the toes. Hammertoes become more common as people age. Since the tissues become less pliable with aging, the foot's normal arch may cause the toes to become bunched up in the shoe.
Pain caused by hammertoes can be relieved by stretching shoes or wearing wider shoes that have plenty of room in the toe area and in the ball of the foot. Custom footwear may be necessary. Avoid wearing tight, restrictive shoes, especially high-heeled shoes. Cushioned pads and insoles help to relieve pressure from shoes. Getting properly-fitting shoes may be the only treatment necessary during the early stages of bunions and hammertoes.
Splints may be used to hold the toe in a straight position. If the condition becomes painful, surgery may become necessary. During bunion and hammertoe surgery, part of the toe bone is removed and the toe is realigned or straightened.
The best treatment is prevention. To avoid the development of hammertoes, follow these guidelines:
• When buying new shoes, try them on at the end of the day (since feet tend to swell during the day). Stand while your shoes are being fitted, and walk around the store to make sure the shoe fits.
• Feet may vary in size, so buy shoes that fit to the longer and wider foot.
• Don't pick shoes by size, since brands differ.
• If shoes feel too tight, don't buy them. Don't expect them to "stretch to fit."
• Wear properly fitted shoes; avoid very high-heeled, narrow shoes which push the toes forward.
• Wear shoes with a high toe box and increased width in the toe area.
• Remember that shoe size may change with age. Have your feet measured often.
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