Dr. Anthony Spitz, DPM
Feet can have slight changes in shape over time. When you consider how often we use them and the force loads our lower limbs endure, that’s probably less than surprising. Of course, there’s a big difference between “slight changes” and symptoms of a problem!
One area of the foot where this is particularly evident is in the toes.
And when it comes to toe deformities, the two leading kinds are bunions and hammertoes.
As we look at these conditions, something to keep in mind is this:
If you’re experiencing pain or difficulty due to a toe deformity, Dr. Spitz can provide the treatment you need!
Our bodies are remarkable when it comes to healing processes.
Even with that being the case, bunions and hammertoes don’t go away on their own.
Rather, they’re progressive deformities—and this means they will continue to worsen over time (when left unaddressed).
Given those factors, it’s wise to have these conditions treated at the earliest possible opportunity.
Since it’s in your best interest to seek early treatment, it helps to recognize these deformities.
Now, between the two conditions, bunions tend to be more well-known within the general population.
For the benefit of those who aren’t familiar, a bunion is a bony protrusion jutting out along the inner edge of the foot. More specifically, the bump appears at the joint where the big toe connects to the foot (the metatarsophalangeal, or MTP, joint).
Along with the distinctive protrusion, the big toe itself will start angling inward.
Because the bump juts out to the side, it may be reddened, swollen, and irritated due to friction from the inside of your shoe. Additionally, there might be callousing on the surface.
While a bunion shifts on the horizontal plane, a hammertoe has a vertical element.
In this case, the toe features an abnormal bend at the middle toe joint. This bending creates a hammerlike appearance—thus the condition’s name. (When the bend is at the joint closest to the tip of the toe, it may be referred to as a mallet toe.)
There’s another related deformity known as a claw toe. This happens when there is an upwards bend at the MTP joint and downwards bends at the other two toe joints. As you might imagine, the name is because affected toes look kind of like claws.
Specific treatment options will depend on a variety of factors, including the deformity’s severity and treatment objectives.
Regarding treatment objectives, we may be able to use conservative methods to relieve symptoms and/or possibly control deformity progression. To restore a toe back to its normal position, however, will require surgery.
But we have some very good news about that:
Dr. Spitz specializes in minimally invasive surgery—in fact, he’s one of only three doctors in Illinois who use these procedures for bunions!—and that means less pain, scarring, and recovery time. Additionally, minimally invasive techniques are generally considered to be safer than more traditional procedures.
At the end of the day, we will hopefully be able to help you find relief and properly address the issue with conservative care.