As mentioned in last week’s blog, our pesky toes can give us a lot of trouble if we aren’t too careful. This may be for many different reasons ranging from complex biomechanical explanations to just the fact that there are more of them. Think about it, they outnumber our feet 5 to 1 and it only takes one of them to go “awry” before we’ve had enough! In general, toe issues come in many different varieties, including bunions, dislocated toes, hammertoes, claw toes, mallet toes, broken toes, extra toes, even missing toes, etc. In all seriousness, toes can present a challenge to even the most skilled podiatrist, but with the right expertise, patience, and expectations even the most difficult toes can be remedied.
Why do my toes look the way they do?
Often patients come into a podiatrist’s office wondering why they got hammertoes, or claw toes in the first place; they ask what went wrong? Well, without launching into a lengthy and complex discussion about foot biomechanics we’ll stick with a very simple explanation. Simply put, there is an imbalance between the stabilizing muscles in the foot and the muscles in the lower leg. The muscles in the leg are stronger and can overpower the muscles in the foot, causing the toes to contract.
What are my options for fixing my toes?
In all reality, the only way to permanently correct hammertoes or other deformities is to go in surgically and straighten them. These types of procedures are usually done only if the toes are causing pain or discomfort, or perhaps may be contributing to a larger problem. In some cases people elect to have them corrected to make their feet more aesthetically pleasing. But if you find that you don’t mind how they look and they aren’t giving you problems, you can always opt for more conservative care such as padding, taping, or supporting the toes. Whatever you decide, your podiatrist will be able to assist you in all aspects of treatment.
When it comes to toe surgery or any form of treatment for deformed digits, it is important to have realistic expectations. Toes seem to have minds of their own, and even the most thorough and expertly performed surgery can over time yield less than perfect results. There are a lot of forces both internal and external that pass through the toes, and these can play roles in the surgical outcomes. While the podiatric surgeon does his best, it is best to understand that you may have significant improvement in how well the toes are realigned, but that they may still not be 100 percent perfection.
Although they may seem insignificant, those pesky toes shouldn’t be underestimated. If you’ve noticed your toes aren’t what they once were, or they are causing you pain and discomfort, don’t hesitate to schedule an appointment with Dr. Gary N. Friedlander of Dr. Jay C. Larson at Sole Foot and Ankle Specialists in Glendale, Arizona.