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Put Your Best Foot Forward: Bunions and Hammertoes

Did you know 75% of Americans will experience some type of foot problem over the course of their lifetime? We all want to put our best feet forward, so shouldn’t we all be taking extra good care of them?

If you have a bunion or a hammertoe, you probably have both conditions because how they develop is surprisingly interrelated. In fact, having a bunion means you’re pretty likely to get a hammertoe. Understanding the difference and the relationship between them can be helpful in getting a handle on your specific type of foot pain.

Bunions and Hammertoes — What are They?

That painful bump on the outside of your foot at the base of your big toe? That’s a bunion. It’s one of the most common foot issues. When the joint between the foot and big toe becomes unstable, bunions form.

More technically, a bunion is a partial or complete dislocation of the metatarsophalangeal joint. The issue occurs over time and is often due to abnormal foot mechanics or ill- fitting shoes. Bunions are progressive conditions that worsen over time. They can cause significant discomfort and limit daily activities if left untreated.

Hammertoes can occur with any of your middle three toes. One or more can become misshaped with an inability to straighten. The toe(s) will be held in either a curled or raised position instead of resting flat. the term “hammertoe” comes from the deformed toe’s shape when viewed from the side, which can resemble a hammer.

When a toe is chronically held in a bent position, like with hammertoes, it causes the muscles to lose length. Over time, the muscles are unable to regain their original length (even with stretching or other treatments), and the ultimate result is a hammertoe.

Treatment Options for Bunions and Hammertoes

The good news is that both bunions and hammertoes really can respond well to conservative treatments when treated early. Conservative treatments include taping down your toes or stretching them. Sometimes splints and spacers can help as well, and oftentimes, maintenance is all that’s needed.

However, surgery comes into play when conservative treatments don’t successfully manage the condition. Because not all bunions are created equal, your treatment will be unique to your situation.

In order to fully correct a bunion and/or hammertoe, you need a foot expert who understands that it’s equally as important to correct the boney deformity and determine the forces that caused the deformation, which is what our foot specialists at Beacon are here to do. Schedule an appointment today, so you can put your best feet forward!