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Posts for tag: hammertoes

By Dr. Howard Schaengold
July 05, 2019
Category: Foot Condition
Tags: hammertoes  

A hammertoe is a common foot deformity that affects the middle joint of the smaller toes. As a result, this causes the toes to bend downward. Since this bend causes the joint to stick out this can put more pressure on the affected joints when wearing shoes, which can also make the deformity worse over time. As with most foot deformities a hammertoe will start out minor and continue to progress over time if left untreated.

During the earlier stages you may not notice much pain and discomfort. In fact the only way you may be able to tell that you have a hammertoe is by examining the foot and noticing that the small toes bend downward like a claw. Of course, at this stage the deformed joint is still flexible enough to be straightened out.

However, if the deformity progresses this can cause the joint to become rigid, which won’t respond effectively to simple conservative treatments. As you might imagine, the sooner you see a podiatrist to treat your hammertoe the better. Early intervention is key, as a hammertoe will not get better without the proper care.

Hammertoes are often the result of an imbalance in the muscle or tendon of the foot. Over time, this leads to structural changes in the foot. Genetics may also play a role in whether your feet are at risk for this deformity. A hammertoe can also be made worse by wearing shoes that are too tight and put too much pressure on the toes.

Along with the structural changes that occur with hammertoes it’s also common to experience redness, inflammation or the development of a corn or callus on the toe. If you are noticing symptoms of a hammertoe see your podiatrist for an evaluation. A simple physical exam is usually all that’s needed to diagnose a hammertoe; however, sometimes an x-ray will be performed in order to determine the extent of the deformity.

If you are dealing with a flexible hammertoe, more often than not simple nonsurgical treatment options are all that’s needed. Following simple treatment options and care can prevent the hammertoes from becoming rigid or painful. Some nonsurgical treatment options include:

  • Wearing the appropriate footwear. This means wearing shoes that aren’t pointy or have high heels, which can put more pressure on the toes.
  • Placing custom orthotics into your shoes, which can ease discomfort and prevent pain resulting in a muscular imbalance.
  • Taking over-the-counter pain relievers such as ibuprofen, which can reduce both pain and inflammation.
  • Splinting the toe or toes to keep them straight, which can also reduce stiffness, inflammation and pain.
  • Applying protective non-medicated padding over the top of the toe to prevent a corn or callus from developing.

If your hammertoe is painful or rigid then you may need to discuss whether surgery is the best option for alleviating your symptom and correcting the deformity. If you are dealing with a hammertoe turn to a foot specialist for help.

By Dr. Howard Schaengold
July 09, 2018
Category: Foot Care
Tags: hammertoes  

When most people think about foot deformities they most often think about bunions; however, hammertoes are just as common. This unassuming deformity comes about gradually, so you may not even notice it until it’s too late. “What is a hammertoe?” You might be wondering. A hammertoe affects the middle joint of a toe (often the smaller toes), causing the toe to bend downward. In severe cases, a hammertoe will look almost claw-like.

There are two kinds of hammertoes: flexible and rigid. As you might imagine, a flexible hammertoe is one in which you can still straighten the toe out. If you aren’t able to straighten the affected toe then this is a rigid hammertoe. A flexible hammertoe isn’t as serious as a rigid one; however, it’s important that you take care of your hammertoe to make sure that it doesn’t get worse.

While there is no way to cure a hammertoe there are simple measures you can take to prevent it from progressing. First and foremost, you need to take a look at the shoes you are wearing and make sure that they aren’t too tight. When you slip your feet into your shoes, does it cause your toes to bunch up against one another? If so then this could make your hammertoe worse.

Instead, opt for shoes with an ample toe box, which will allow your toes to wiggle and move around freely. If you have a structural imbalance within the foot this can leave you prone to foot problems such as hammertoes and bunions. To correct this imbalance, talk to your foot doctor about getting custom orthotics (shoe inserts), which can be placed into your shoes to help provide cushioning, support, and shock absorption for your feet.

If pain or stiffness does rear its ugly head you can choose to take an over-the-counter pain reliever like ibuprofen, which can tackle both pain and inflammation in one fell swoop, or you can place a towel-wrapped ice pack (never put ice directly on the skin, as it can cause severe burns) over the area for several minutes.

Just as you can buy pads to cover a bunion or callus, you can also buy a non-medicated protective pad to cover over a hammertoe. Since the deformed toe joint juts out this can leave the toe prone to calluses, which can cause pain when wearing shoes. To prevent a callus from forming, you can apply a protective pad over the deformed toe joint before putting on shoes.

Of course, if you are dealing with significant or frequent pain, or if the hammertoe is rigid, then you will want to turn to a podiatric specialist. In severe cases, surgery may be recommended to correct the disfigured joint.

By Dr. Howard Schaengold
December 18, 2017
Category: Foot Care
Tags: hammertoes  

HammertoesA hammertoe is one of the most common toe conditions, usually stemming from muscle imbalance in which the joints of the second, third, fourth or fifth toe are bent into a contracted, claw-like position. In the early stages, hammertoes are flexible and can be corrected with simple conservative measures, but if left untreated, they can become fixed and require surgery.

The most common cause of hammertoe is a muscle imbalance. Tight-fitting and high-heeled shoes often aggravate the condition, crowding your toes forward. A hammertoe can also be the result of injury in which you break or jam the toe, or from conditions like arthritis or stroke that affect nerves and muscles. In some cases, hammertoes may even be inherited.

Because of their clenched, claw-like appearance, hammertoes will generally be visibly present. Other signs and symptoms include:

  • Difficult or painful motion of a toe joint
  • Redness or swelling at a toe joint
  • Development of calluses and corns
  • Open sores in severe cases

The foot and ankle professionals at our office recommend the following for preventing and reducing the symptoms associated with hammertoe:

  • Wear comfortable, proper-fitting shoes that provide support and allow enough room for your toes
  • Avoid high-heeled or narrow-toed shoes
  • Stretch your toe muscles to relieve pressure and pain
  • Apply splints, cushions or pads to relieve pressure
  • Moisturize with cream to keep the skin soft

Generally, a modification of footwear will reduce the symptoms associated with hammertoe. Other non-surgical treatment includes padding to shield corns and calluses and orthotic devices that are placed in the shoe to help control muscle imbalance. We can help you determine the best treatment for your symptoms. Severe cases that don't respond to conservative measures may require surgery to restore your toe's flexibility and eliminate the pressure.

Hammertoes are progressive - they don't go away by themselves and the condition usually gets worse over time. Once a podiatrist at has evaluated your hammertoe, a treatment plan can be developed that is suited to your needs.

By Dr. Howard Schaengold
April 08, 2014
Category: Sports Injuries

Baseball batThe bat cracks and the crowd goes wild. The crowd’s roar can be heard from high school ball diamonds all the way to Safeco Field. Spring is here. Whether you warm the bleachers at your kids’ games or take in a Mariners game this weekend, one thing you hate to see is a player down on the field with an injury. Baseball injuries may be an inevitable part of the game, but proper treatment can lead to full healing and help players avoid future complications.

Ankle sprains are so common that we sometimes underestimate their damage. Running the bases, dashing sideways to field a ball, or sliding into second can all cause the ligaments in your ankle to stretch too far. Pain may keep you off your feet for a while, but many players don’t take the proper time to heal properly from a sprain. The end result is weak ankles, future sprains, and chronic problems throughout their lives.

Overtraining can lead to Achilles tendinopathy and heel pain from plantar fasciitis, further limiting you from playing your best game. These conditions will get worse if you try to tough it out and play through the pain. You need to rest and seek proper treatment to avoid permanent damage to your lower limbs.

Wearing cleats can aggravate forefoot problems like neuromas and sesamoid injuries. Many cleats fit too tightly in the toe and bother bunions and hammertoes, too. Make sure your cleats are fitted snugly but contain enough room for your toes.

Finally, there are always those odd injuries, like getting hit with a bat or a ball or being stomped on by somebody’s cleats. Whatever form your baseball injuries take, Dr. Howard Schaengold at The Plateau Foot & Ankle Clinic in Sammamish is the place to go for expert diagnosis and treatment. In Sammamish, Bellevue, Issaquah, and Redmond, we’re only a phone call away at (425) 868-3338. We specialize in sports medicine and will help you heal completely so you can get back in the game without pain.

Photo credit: Now and Zen Photography via freedigitalphotos.net

By Howard Schaengold, DPM
June 15, 2012
Category: Surgery

Foot SurguryWhen foot problems don’t respond to conservative treatments, your podiatrist may recommend surgery to relieve pain, correct a foot deformity or restore function in your foot and/or ankle. 

Podiatric surgery is performed by board certified foot surgeons who specialize in surgery of the feet and ankles. An expert podiatrist can diagnose the cause of your foot pain and determine whether surgical intervention may be helpful for you based on factors such as type of procedure being performed, your age and medical history.

Howard Schaengold, DPM offers a variety of surgical procedures aimed to solve your lower extremity pains and deformities. Foot surgery is performed to treat many foot problems including:

  • Bunions
  • Hammertoes
  • Fractures
  • Heel pain
  • Neuromas
  • Flatfoot
  • Warts
  • Nail problems

Surgical treatment for foot and ankle problems can help you return to your active lifestyle while relieving pain and discomfort.  Benefits of surgery include:

  • Resolution of painful, chronic foot problems
  • Increased mobility and ability to perform and participate in everyday activities
  • Improved foot appearance
  • Ability to wear a broader range of footwear and walk more comfortably

Following surgery, your podiatrist will provide you with detailed instructions on caring for your foot/feet during recovery.  Your podiatrist will work with you to ensure the foot heals normally and without complications for the best possible outcome.

When your feet hurt, your entire body hurts. At Howard Schaengold, DPM, we do everything possible to get you back on your feet with the latest conservative treatments to resolve your problem without surgical intervention. And when conservative methods aren’t responsive, we can provide the highest quality of expert care for all foot and ankle conditions using the most current surgical techniques for shorter recovery times and an enhanced outcome.