Toe deformities are a common problem that we treat at Patrick Fettinger, DPM. We notice, however, that our Fairfield County patients often have misconceptions about these conditions which can lead to not seeking treatment for them promptly.
Toe deformities do have a few things in common:
They are progressive conditions, meaning they will only get worse, not better without some kind of treatment.
Left untreated they often lead to secondary foot pain problems like corns and calluses.
Your choice of footwear can reduce or exacerbate the level of discomfort if you have a toe deformity.
But each type of deformity has its unique characteristics as well.
Here are three well-known toe deformities and what you need to know about them:
Bunion—nearly everyone can recognize a bunion by its characteristic bump on the outside of the big toe. For many patients, this appears ugly and they simply try to hide it from sight by not going barefoot and avoiding sandals and other open-toe shoe styles. A bunion, however, is caused by a bone enlargement that forces the toe out of place and causes it to start to move toward the second toe. As the bunion gets bigger, every step becomes more painful as you flex your toe. It becomes increasingly difficult to wear shoes due to the friction against the enlargement and corns and calluses will form. In some cases, the big toe will also become a sight for arthritis or bursitis.
Claw Toe—different from a bunion, claw toe is caused by muscle weakness, usually brought about by nerve damage from a disease such as diabetes or alcoholism. Lack of muscle strength results in toes bending upward from the joints at the ball of the foot and down at the middle joints toward the sole. Corns are likely to develop on the top of the toe or under the ball of the foot due to the pressure exerted by wearing shoes.
Hammertoes—in the case of a hammertoe, the bend in the toe can be caused by a muscle imbalance or by wearing shoes that do not fit properly. Toes that are too short in the toe box force the toe into a bent condition. Initially, a hammertoe will be flexible and able to be bent back into its correct position. Left, untreated, however, it can become rigidly fixed in the deformed position.
The good news is that patients seek treatment for toe deformities early on our podiatrist, Dr. Patrick J. Fettinger, has multiple options, both conservative and surgical with which to treat the deformity. Don’t delay, contact our New Fairfield (203-746-9660) or Middlebury (203-598-0357) office as soon as possible for an appointment if you believe you have a toe deformity.
At Patrick Fettinger, DPM we know many of our patients will be ringing in the New Year with a host of resolutions to improve themselves. One area we want to be sure does not get overlooked is the health and care of your feet. Did you know that many common podiatric conditions can be prevented or at least the risk for developing them greatly reduced with some proactive care on the part of the patient? Below are some resolutions we hope you’ll make to ensure good podiatric health in the New Year.
- Commit to a good hygiene routine. Your regimen doesn’t have to be elaborate or time-consuming but aim to do the basics daily. Wash your feet with soap and water (drying them completely afterward). Apply a foot powder in the morning to help keep feet dry throughout the day. At night, protect and moisturize skin with a good emollient cream massaged into the entire foot. Get in the habit of inspecting your feet for changes or unusual symptoms such as bruising, swelling, deformity and discoloration.
- Keep up with toenail care. Don’t let nails get too long or have jagged edges—these can get caught on socks or blankets and tear. Always trim nails straight across and not too short and never file with curved edges to help prevent ingrown toenails from forming.
- Cover your feet in public places. Use shower shoes or flip flops at the gym, nail salon and indoor pools. The fungus that causes athlete’s foot and fungal toenails are spread by direct contact. Be vigilant in areas that are moist and see lots of bare-foot traffic.
- Get rid of worn-out shoes. Shoes that are stretched out, damaged or have flattened arch and heel support can cause injury and harm to your feet. Wearing well-made shoes that fit properly is one of the best ways of improving the health of your feet. Get your feet professionally measured and buy shoes that are comfortable and give your foot the support they need.
Don’t delay getting foot pain evaluated. If your feet or ankles hurt or you are experiencing discomfort, make an appointment at our New Fairfield (203-746-9660) or Middlebury (203-598-0357) office as soon as possible so that our podiatrist, Dr. Patrick Fettinger, can examine your feet and determine if treatment is necessary.
In Fairfield County, we’re beginning to get our first taste of winter with some freezing rain and snow starting to fall. At Patrick Fettinger, DPM we know this makes ankle sprains far more likely. We want to take this opportunity to offer our patients some tips on preventing this common winter injury.
Show Good Shoe Sense
One of the best ways to avoid ankle twisting injuries is by wearing appropriate shoes. Ice and slippery conditions create natural instability—you don’t need spiky heels or fashion boots with no tread making it worse. Wide, chunky heels are best. If that doesn’t accessorize well with your holiday look, pack your party shoes and plan to change when you arrive at your destination.
Watch Your Step
When it’s cold, it’s natural to bundle up but be sure that scarves and hats are not limiting your peripheral vision. Plot your course on snowy days by looking for the best-cleared path or walkway to your destination.
Make Two Trips
Avoid carrying so many packages that you can’t see the ground in front of you to detect icy patches and changes in surface elevations that could cause a fall. You’ll also want to keep your arms free to help maintain your balance or break a fall if you do go down.
Not leaving enough time between tasks or running behind for a holiday event can leave you racing and more likely to trip or not see an object in front of you. It also results in risky choices—like running into the florist to pick up flowers for your host while wearing your stiletto-heeled boots.
Know What to Do
If you do slip and fall, recognize the signs of an ankle injury and take immediate action. Pain, swelling and bruising are all indicators of a potential sprain. Start the RICE regimen—rest, ice, compression, and elevation—right away. Don’t delay seeking treatment. In some cases, it may be difficult to tell the difference between a sprain and a fracture. Contact our New Fairfield (203-746-9660) or Middlebury (203-598-0357) office for an appointment as soon as possible so that our podiatrist, Dr. Patrick Fettinger, can examine your ankle and determine the extent of the injury and the proper treatment.
At Patrick Fettinger, DPM we know that patients with diabetes have to take extra good care of their feet. Two conditions associated with diabetes—neuropathy and decreased circulation--can prove extremely dangerous for your feet. Neuropathy, or nerve damage, can result in loss of sensation in your feet. This means that a cut, injury, blister or rash may go unnoticed initially. These types of problems can progress to a point where they become open wounds and a possible site of infection. Poor circulation can inhibit healing by slowing the flow of oxygen-rich blood to the wound, leading to systemic infection and even amputation. That’s why it’s essential to observe extra precautions with your feet to prevent injuries and foot infections.
Below are some tips all patients with diabetes should observe:
Schedule regular checkups with our podiatrist, Dr. Patrick Fettinger. The foot doctor is your partner in ensuring that your feet stay healthy. By examining your feet periodically, the podiatrist can detect problems in their early stages and monitor chronic foot conditions carefully.
Practice self-exams. In between your podiatrist appointments, it’s imperative that you examine your own feet every day. Look for bruises, cuts, blisters, skin rashes, lumps, swelling, growths or any other unusual changes. These can be signs of a potential issue that could develop into a diabetic ulcer or an infection. If you notice anything concerning, you should immediately contact our New Fairfield (203-746-9660) or Middlebury (203-598-0357) office.
Keep your feet covered. Always wear shower shoes or flip flops when out in public places like gyms, community pools and, nail salons. This will greatly reduce your risk of contracting a bacterial or fungal infection since these are spread by direct contact. Even at home, you should wear shoes to prevent cuts, puncture wounds and injuries.
Avoid direct heat. Don’t use space heaters, electric blanket or put your feet up in front of the fireplace. Neuropathy may impede your ability to know when it’s too hot and result in burns to the skin.
- Wear shoes that fit properly. Choose styles with roomy toe boxes. When toes are squished together for long periods of time ingrown toenails and toe deformities such as bunions and hammertoes are more likely. Always check the insides of your shoes to be sure there is no loose stitching or rough spots that could rub on your foot and cause a blister.
If you have diabetes, we’re part of your healthcare team and will do everything possible to help keep your feet healthy.
As days get cooler and shorter, we at Patrick Fettinger, DPM find that many patients move their fitness regimens indoors to local gyms and health clubs. This leads to a rise in the number of cases of athlete’s foot, warts and fungal toenails that we treat. Communal areas that are warm and moist are the perfect setting for infections to thrive. Below are some tips for keeping up with your workouts without contracting an unwanted skin or nail condition.
- Keep your feet covered. Wear shower shoes or flip-flops in gym locker rooms and showers. This is probably the single, biggest way to prevent fungal and bacterial infections. These types of conditions are spread by direct contact. You walk barefoot on a surface where someone else has deposited fungi or bacteria and you end up with an infection.
- Don’t share. Yes, generally not socially acceptable but when it comes to towels, soap, socks, nail clippers, emery boards and other items that touch someone else’s feet is a must for preventing fungal, viral and bacterial conditions.
- Keep feet dry. Wearing damp socks for hours can create perfect conditions for infections to develop. Closed shoes, warm socks and the heat going on in offices, cars and stores can all increase your risk. If you tend to sweat excessively, carry an extra pair of socks and change them as soon as you feel that they are damp.
- Practice good podiatric hygiene. Simply washing your feet daily with warm soapy water can go a long way to preventing infections. Be sure to dry feet completely, paying attention to the spaces between your toes as this is where athlete’s foot often starts.
Learn to recognize the signs of foot infections in their earliest stages:
- Red skin
- Dry or scaly skin
- Changes in color or texture of toenails
If you notice any of the above symptoms, be sure to contact our podiatrist, Dr. Patrick Fettinger, as soon as possible. Make an appointment at one of our two Connecticut locations: New Fairfield (203-746-9660) or Middlebury (203-598-0357).
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