What Are Hammertoes and How Can You Prevent Them?

We get it – you enjoy wearing high-heeled shoes whenever you can. In fact, your closet may be filled with nothing but cute, fashionable shoes with tight toe boxes. But who cares as long as you look good – pain is beauty, right? Before you try to stuff your feet into a few-sizes-too-small shoe with virtually zero support, be aware that this habit can begin changing your feet, and not for the better. Exhibit A: hammertoes.

What Are Hammertoes?

This common podiatric deformity is a contracture of the middle joint in the toe (often the 2nd through 5th digits), which forces the toe to bend downward as opposed to lying flat. When viewed at the side, the toe appears as an upside-down “v.” It’s a sneaky deformity since it appears gradually – you may not even notice it until it’s too late. Hammertoes are also more commonly found in females than males.

Wait, There Are Two Types of Hammertoes?

Yes! There are both flexible hammertoes and rigid hammertoes. Initially, hammertoes are flexible, but if they’re left untreated, they can become rigid and difficult to treat. If you aren’t able to straighten your affected toe, then you more than likely have a rigid hammertoe. The key is catching hammertoes when they’re still flexible, if at all possible, since they can be treated with simple measures in the earlier stage.

What Causes Hammertoes?

Maybe you’re born with it – maybe it’s how you treat your feet. Either way, there are several factors that can cause hammertoes, including the following:

  • Genetics – Being born with a particular foot type predisposes you to developing joint deformities in time. If you have flat feet, high arches, or particularly flexible feet, you may wind up with hammertoes later on in life.
  • Your shoe choice – If you often wear ill-fitting shoes with narrow toe boxes and little to no arch support, you may eventually experience hammertoes.
  • Certain underlying medical conditions – Arthritis, neuromuscular diseases, tendon imbalances, bunions, and even trauma to the toes can also cause hammertoes.

So I Have a Hammertoe – How Can I Treat It?

While there is no cure for hammertoes, there are plenty of ways you can treat them at home to help ease any pain or discomfort you may be feeling:

  • Apply a commercial, non-medicated hammertoe pad around the affected area. This will help decrease pressure around the area.
  • Choose supportive, roomy shoes with a deep toe box to give your toes more wiggle room.
  • If your hammertoe becomes inflamed, ice packs can help reduce the swelling. Remember to wrap the ice pack in cloth before applying it to your toe!
  • Custom orthotics from your podiatrist may also help reduce symptoms and prevent your hammertoe from worsening.

If these measures don’t relieve your pain, surgery may be needed to help correct the problem.

How Can I Prevent Hammertoes from Happening in the First Place?

Wearing the right shoes and taking good care of your feet are often enough to help you prevent or delay the formation of hammertoes. Here are a few things that you can do now to keep your toes healthy and functional:

  • Choose supportive shoes that fit you well. We suggest shoe shopping at the end of the day since the feet often swell a bit. This will help you find the best fit for your foot.
  • Avoid wearing shoes with a narrow or pointy toe box or a high heel.
  • Wear orthotics as prescribed by your podiatrist.
  • Try foot exercises! Every once in a while, tune into your feet and try curling and extending your toes. This will help keep your muscles strong and your toes supple.
  • Pay special attention to your feet. If you notice pain or anything out of the norm, call your podiatrist for an appointment.

If you’re experiencing hammertoes, don’t wait. Give your hardworking feet the love and respect they deserve by making an appointment with the knowledgeable doctors at The Foot & Ankle Center! Call us today at (314) 487-9300 to schedule an appointment, or request one at your convenience online!

Have a Foot or Ankle Ailment? Try Stem Cell Therapy

Foot and ankle injuries and chronic ailments are no joke. They derail us from our lives, throw wrenches in our workout plans, and hinder our outdoor adventures. But let us tell you this: if you’ve felt like you need to continuously endure your ailments or that surgery is your only answer, you would be mistaken. Fortunately, stem cell therapy, which is a noninvasive, virtually painless experience, can help heal your body and make you feel whole again!

Remind Me – What’s Stem Cell Therapy Again?

We recently discussed quite a bit of information in one of our previous blogs about all the ins and outs of stem cell therapy. In a nutshell, though, stem cell therapy (also known as regenerative medicine) is a type of treatment that can heal a variety of podiatric conditions safely and effectively. Stem cells are unique in that they have the ability to change into specialized cells and divide to produce even more stem cells. They also nudge the cells already present in your body to lend a helping hand in fixing your ailment, which ultimately accelerates the healing process!

Great, So Which Foot and Ankle Conditions Can Stem Cell Therapy Treat?

Regenerative medicine is quite incredible. This cutting-edge therapy can treat a wide variety of podiatric ailments and conditions, including:

  • Achilles tendonitis
  • Ankle tendon tears
  • Bunions
  • Ligament sprains of the ankle
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Plantar fasciitis
  • Soft tissue damage
  • Sports injuries

Typically, depending on the severity and location of the treatment site, you should need only one stem cell injection for recovery.

How Exactly Does Stem Cell Therapy Work?

Before treatment ever begins, you will come in for a consultation with our knowledgeable doctors, who will then discuss and assess your podiatric ailment. From there, our doctors will determine which course of treatment is right for you. If stem cell therapy is the answer, this is what will happen during your next visit:

During treatment, we will inject the harvested stem cells directly into the area of the body in which they are needed. This is typically around a torn or damaged tendon, scar tissue, or on your bunion. From there, the incredibly adaptable stem cells start duplicating rapidly and turn daughter cells into the exact cells your body requires. Then, the new cells will start working hard to repair your injury or ailment. This treatment requires no incisions or any downtime, and healing is quick, easy, and virtually pain-free.

Call Us to Learn More Don’t let your podiatric condition dictate your life. Call The Foot & Ankle Center today at (314) 487-9300 to learn more about how stem cell therapy may help relieve your symptoms and get you back on your feet again!

I Sprained My Ankle. Now What?

It happened. You were walking along your favorite hiking trail when you suddenly twisted your ankle on the uneven pathway. Sprained ankles can happen so quickly and for a variety of reasons. The question is, what should you do about it now? If you want to get back on your feet and return to your normal everyday life, you’ll have to slow down for a little bit first and take care of your sprained ankle properly. Here’s what you need to know about recovering from a sprained ankle:

What Happens When an Ankle is Sprained?

A sprained ankle is the result of your ankle rolling out of place suddenly. This common type of injury can cause the ligaments surrounding your ankle to overstretch or even tear, resulting in pain and swelling.

How Long Will My Ankle Hurt?

It really depends on how severe the injury is, and recovery can take anywhere from a few weeks to a few months.

Mild Sprain

A mild sprain, which includes swelling, soreness, and trouble maintaining your balance, will typically take about 2 weeks for the ligament to heal.

Moderate Sprain

If you have a moderate sprain and are experiencing considerable pain, swelling and bruising, and difficulty walking, your ligament may be partially torn. This means it should take about 6-8 weeks for you to heal completely.

Severe Sprain

Should you experience a severe sprain, your ligament may have fully torn, and you may have severe pain, significant swelling or bruising, and the inability to walk without a crutch or immobility boot. This type of injury will unfortunately take about 3 months to heal, at least.

Is There Any Way I Can Speed Up the Healing Process?

Just like with recovery time, your treatment will largely depend on the severity of the sprain. Overall, following these steps will help expedite your healing:

RICE – This tried-and-true method of rest, ice, compression, and elevation can help you feel better faster. Rest as much as you can, wrap your injured ankle snugly in a compression bandage, and elevate it above your heart as much as possible. As for ice, we recommend using an ice pack for 15 to 20 minutes every 2 to 3 hours, especially within the first 3 days of the injury.

Professional Assessment – Your podiatrist or physical therapist can take a look at your injury and help you figure out the proper steps to take to help you heal.

Range of Motion Exercises – It’s important to maintain your mobility as much as possible while you recuperate. You may be given exercises and stretches to help maintain and increase your range of motion in order to combat stiffness and strengthen your ankle and foot.

When Should I See a Doctor?

If you have a mild injury, you can most likely recover at home without any assistance. However, if you experience the following, you should make an appointment with your doctor or podiatrist:

  • Severe swelling
  • Extreme or persistent pain
  • Odd shape to the ankle
  • Limited range of motion
  • Inability to walk without assistance

How Can I Take Care of My Ankles in the Long Term?

Sprained ankles aren’t forever, and there are many steps you can take to help you protect and strengthen them to avoid future injury. Stretching your ankles, feet, and legs frequently, especially before and after exercising, is critical for podiatric health. Wear well-fitting shoes and avoid wearing footwear that makes your ankles unstable (high heels, flip-flops, ballet flats, etc.). Finally, continuing ankle-strengthening exercises will also help you prevent injury.

Suffering from a sprained ankle? Experiencing a painful podiatric issue? Call the friendly, knowledgeable doctors at The Foot & Ankle Center at (314) 487-9300! We will give you the right diagnosis and help you get back on your feet in no time.

Everything You Need to Know About Stem Cell Therapy

If you’ve poked around in the health community at all, you’ve probably heard the terms “stem cell therapy” or even “regenerative medicine” being thrown around more often lately. In fact, this innovative therapy is becoming more prominent in the world of sports as athletes like Missouri-native MLB star Max Scherzer use stem cells to recover and get back in the game. In recent years, the use of regenerative stem cell therapy has expanded and can even be found in the treatment of several common foot and ankle issues.

But what exactly is stem cell therapy, and who would benefit from this procedure? Find out in our blog below:

What are Stem Cells?

Stem cells are pretty unique. They differ from other cells in your body because they have the ability to change into specialized cells and divide to produce even more stem cells. They come in two forms: embryonic stem cells and adult stem cells. Embryonic stem cells can turn into more than one type of cell. Meanwhile, adult stem cells, which can be found in certain types of tissue, have a narrowed capacity to transform into other cells.

What is the Role of Stem Cell Therapy in Podiatry?

Let’s say you have an injured ankle. Stem cell therapy can be used to heal your ankle’s soft tissues. Your podiatrist will introduce the stem cells into the affected ankle, and these cells will then begin repairing the damaged tissue! Additionally, these newly-injected cells will tap nearby cells to help out with fixing your ailment. This will help reduce inflammation quickly while accelerating the healing process!

Is It Safe?

Absolutely! Stem cells occur naturally within the human body, so treatment is incredibly safe.

What are the Benefits of Stem Cell Therapy?

Aside from it being a natural and safe procedure, stem cell therapy boasts several other benefits to the patient. The clinically proven process is effective as it targets the cause of the injury (rather than treating the symptoms). Injections are painless with no incisions required, and patients experience a full healing quickly.

Who Should Receive Stem Cell Therapy?

Fortunately, this treatment effectively treats an array of podiatric conditions, including:

  • Plantar fasciitis
  • Achilles tendinitis
  • Arthritis
  • Chronic ankle sprains
  • Soft tissue damage
  • Other conditions that have historically been challenging to treat

Want to learn more about regenerative stem cell therapy? Call the knowledgeable doctors at The Foot & Ankle Center at (314) 487-9300. We’re constantly learning more about the latest podiatric technology so we can provide you with the high quality treatment you deserve.

Are Bunion-Correcting Sandals Worth Your Time and Money?

We see several patients suffering from bunions, and they often ask us what we think about various pain-management treatments. With spring close by, our patients have had open-toed shoes on their minds, so we weren’t terribly surprised when they began asking us about “bunion-correcting” sandals. There’s always some sort of new product out there that claims it can correct your podiatric problem quickly and painlessly, so we understand when our patients become curious about them. But are bunion-correcting sandals really all they’re made out to be?

What Causes Bunions?

Before we even think about discussing bunion-correcting sandals, we must first understand the ailment they “treat” – the bunion itself. Also known as hallux valgus, bunions form when the bone or tissue at the big toe’s joint moves out of place. They can be brought on by many factors, including genetics, foot injuries, arthritis, and joint diseases. Abnormal, repetitive motions can also force the joint to bend toward the other toes, resulting in a painful lump on the side of your big toe.

What are Bunion-Correcting Sandals?

Now onto the sandals! These shoes feature a special strap that wraps around the front of the foot and is anchored around the big toe. This strap supposedly helps relieve bunion pain while correcting and realigning the joint, keeping you comfortable and trendy all day. Sometimes, bunion-correcting sandals will also claim to help correct your posture and prevent hip and muscle imbalances as well.

Do Bunion-Correcting Sandals Really Work?

The short answer is no, they don’t. They may appear to work while you wear them; however, much like corrective lenses, whenever you take them off, any benefit you may experience from them will vanish. So while bunion-correcting shoes may relieve pain and pressure on your toe joint, they sadly won’t fix the issue at hand.

How Should I Manage My Bunion Pain?

Fortunately, there are plenty of ways you can find relief from your bunions! The best thing you can do is wearing high-quality shoes with a wide-fit toe box. This will help prevent squeezing or irritating your bunions by giving them the space they need. We recommend avoiding high-heeled shoes and pointed shoes when you’re able – if you must wear them, make sure to save them for special occasions. Using shoe inserts, warm socks, and ice packs can help bring relief as well!

Rely on the Experts at The Foot & Ankle Center If you’ve been suffering from bunion pain, please contact the friendly, knowledgeable podiatrists at The Foot & Ankle Center. We will be able to give you a proper diagnosis and the right course of action to help get you back on your feet. Call us at (314) 487-9300 to schedule your appointment with us!