If you pay attention, you may have noticed that bunions and hammertoes are often mentioned in the same sentence, or the same breath. Although these are separate conditions that often occur independently of one another, it’s no mistake that they are often grouped together.
Bunions and hammertoes are, together, the two most high-profile bony forefoot deformities in adults. If you look up common foot deformities, they’ll probably be listed first and second. If you’re unsure what they mean, here’s a brief recap:
Bunions are a dislocation of the joint at the base of the big toe. As a result of this dislocation, the point of the big toe falls out of alignment toward its neighboring digits, while a large and bony bump forms along the inside of the forefoot.
Hammertoes are a permanent downward bend in one or more toe knuckles, usually due to an imbalance in tendon strength. It may occur in any or all of your toes. The knuckles usually start out flexible, but in time they rigidly lock in place.
Although, as we said, bunions and hammertoes are separate conditions, they can easily occur at the same time on the same foot, and are often caused by similar factors, including:
Structural inadequacies in the shape of the foot
Irregular gait patterns
Wearing shoes that are too small, particularly around the toes
Direct injuries or trauma to the feet or toes
The fact that both are progressive, bony deformities also means there are certain similarities in both the progression of the condition, as well as the treatment options. Neither condition gets better on its own, and once the damage is done the deformity is usually only reversible via surgery. However, in both cases, conservative treatments like new shoes, new orthotics, taping, splints, certain stretching exercises, and the like can often ease the pain of minor deformities and prevent them from getting worse. This can absolve the need for surgery for a very long time.
One other common attribute? You can find comprehensive, effective treatment solutions for both at Gulf South Foot & Ankle in Metairie and Covington, LA. Our experienced team can provide a wide range of conservative and surgical solutions, and will help you develop an appropriate plan for your care. To schedule your appointment, reach out to us at the following numbers:
Metairie: (504) 708-4810
Covington: (985) 809-1464