Monthly Archives: October 2015

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Hammertoe is a condition where a toe joint bends downward causing the toes to have a curled appearance. Frequently, it’s caused by an imbalance of muscle and ligament tissues that connect and support the joints in toes. Trauma and ill-fitting footwear can cause or aggravate the condition, which may also be inherited.



Hammertoe can be painful, particularly for women (who are more likely to feel pressured to wear toe-pinching footwear, like heels), and unsightly. For diabetics and others with poor circulation, hammertoes can become a serious health hazard. The tissue can die and become infected, and that infection can spread to the blood.

Hammertoe is a progressive condition, meaning it gets worse over time, and will not correct itself without treatment. Fortunately, there are treatment options.

Early on in the progression of this deformity, hammertoes can still be moved at the joint. Hammertoes at this stage are called flexible hammertoes. Flexible hammertoes often respond to non-invasive treatments. Splinting, strapping, orthotic devices, foot-friendlier shoes, medication, and injections are some of the more popular options.

More serious is rigid hammertoe. Rigid hammertoe is the later stage of the condition, when the tendon becomes rigid and it is no longer possible to move the toes. At this stage, surgery is usually needed. Often, people with rigid hammertoe have multiple affected toes, and other foot deformities, such as bunions–having one piece out of alignment often means the rest of the foot develops these conditions. A surgeon can create a strategy to deal with these other deformities as well, so that your foot can heal healthier and better aligned, lowering your risk of developing future deformities.

Need help with hammertoes? Our NJ Foot and Ankle specialists can put their years of lower extremity expertise to work for you. Request an appointment today!

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Arthritis in the Feet and Ankles

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One major culprit behind foot and ankle pain? Arthritis. Arthritis is a blanket term for over 200 diseases, many of which can cause pain, swelling, stiffness, and loss of function in the joints of the feet and ankles. Read on to learn more about the risk factors and symptoms of these conditions.


Risk Factors

Some of the known risk factors common to many types of arthritis include:

  • Gender
    • Women are more likely than men to develop most forms of arthritis, with the notable exception of gout (another form of arthritis which can cause severe pain, swelling, and loss of function in the feet).
  • Age
    • Risk of developing arthritis increases with age.
    • However, in the US alone approximately 294,000 children under the age of 18 have arthritis–important to keep in mind if your child is experiencing soreness, inflammation, or other symptoms of arthritis.
    • Women are more likely to develop arthritis at an older age than men.
  • Genetics
    • Some forms of arthritis are associated with genetic factors
  • Weight
    • Excess weight can play a role in developing arthritis
  • Trauma
    • Injuries to joints can increase the likelihood that arthritis will develop in the joint
  • Infection
    • Infections in the joints may be related to certain types of arthritis, such as rheumatoid arthritis.

Symptoms of Common Forms of Arthritis Affecting the Feet and Ankles

The three most common kinds of arthritis are osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and psoriatic arthritis. All can affect the feet and/or ankles.

Osteoarthritis develops with age or wear and tear as the cartilage cushioning bones and joints is worn down. Weight bearing joints, such as those in the feet, are particularly vulnerable to this condition. Symptoms include swelling of the afflicted joint, deep aches, pain when putting weight on or using the joint, and stiffness, particularly in the morning. The joint may also feel unusually warm to the touch.

Rheumatoid arthritis, or RA, is an autoimmune disorder that causes the immune system to attack the body–and especially to attack the joints. Attacked joints become inflamed, and sufferers experience pain and swelling in feet, ankles, and other joints. Usually, more than one part of the body swells up, often in a symmetrical pattern. Afflicted areas will be painful and stiff. Sufferers may also experience nausea, fatigue, and rashes, among other symptoms.

Psoriatic arthritis is a condition afflicting approximately 10% of psoriasis sufferers, and occurs when a patient has both psoriasis (a skin condition characterized by inflammation of the skin) and arthritis (inflammation of the joint). Joints and toes may be swollen and scaly, with discolored or pitted nails.

There are, again, dozens of varieties of arthritis with a wide range of symptoms. Any persistent, bothersome symptoms are worth having checked out, even if they aren’t included specifically above. If you suspect you may have arthritis, or have been diagnosed and need help effectively managing your symptoms, we encourage you to request an appointment with our specialists.

Twenty-six joints make up the foot and ankle, making this one of the most interesting structures in the entire body--and also, one of the most vulnerable. Injuries and pain in the foot and joint area can be debilitating, even immobilizing. Our experts are here to help you find your footing, and identify a course of treatment that will allow you to hit the ground running.