Bunions,calluses,corn and hammer, claw, and mallet toes

Introduction

Footwear plays a large role in the development as well as the prevention of foot and toe problems such as bunions, calluses and corns, and hammer, claw, and mallet toes. Shoes that don’t fit properly make these conditions worse and more painful.

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A bunion is an enlargement of bone or tissue around the joint at the base of the big toe that causes a bump on the joint. The big toe may turn toward the second toe (displacement), and the tissues surrounding the joint may be swollen and tender.

Bunions may be caused by foot mechanics that result in too much pressure on the big toe joint. Over time, the constant pressure forces the big toe out of alignment, gradually bending it toward the other toes. An inherited foot type (such as flatfoot), an abnormal foot motion (excessive pronation), and tight-fitting shoes may all contribute to the pressure.

A bunion may not have any symptoms, or the symptoms may develop gradually. Symptoms include:

· Swelling or a bump at the base of the big toe.

· Bending of the big toe toward the other toes.

· A red, painful joint.

· Irritated skin over the bunion.

Home treatment, including wearing shoes with low or no heels and with plenty of room in the toe box (the area that surrounds the toes), is often all that is needed to take pressure off the toe joint and relieve pain. If home treatment does not give enough relief, medication to relieve pain and swelling or surgery may be needed.

A bunionette or tailor’s bunion is an enlargement of the joint at the base of the little toe.

What are calluses and corns?


Calluses and corns are areas of thick, hardened, dead skin. They form to protect the skin and structures under the skin from pressure, friction, and injury. They may appear grayish or yellowish, be less sensitive to the touch than surrounding skin, and feel bumpy. Calluses on the hands and feet of an active person are normal. Calluses and corns become a problem when they grow large enough to cause pain.

· Calluses generally form on the hands or feet, although they may form wherever there is pressure on the skin, such as on the knees or elbows.

· Calluses on the hands generally form at the base of the fingers. They usually are not painful and may be useful. For example, a carpenter might develop calluses that protect his or her hands from scrapes and cuts while working. A tennis player might develop calluses on the palm that protect his or her hand from the pressure and friction of handling a tennis racket.

· Calluses on the feet generally form on the ball of the foot, the heel, and the underside of the big toe. They often form where the foot and the beginning of the toe meet (under the end of the metatarsal bone).

· Corns generally are found where toes rub together. Corns have an inner core that can be soft or hard. A soft corn is found between toes (usually the fourth and fifth toes), while a hard corn is often found over a bony part of a toe (usually the fifth toe).

What causes calluses and corns?

Calluses and corns are caused over a period of time by repeated pressure or friction on an area of skin. The pressure causes the skin to die and form a hard, protective surface. A soft corn is formed in the same way, except that when perspiration is trapped where the corn develops, the hard core softens. This generally occurs between toes. Calluses and corns are not caused by a virus and are not contagious.

Repeated handling of an object that puts pressure on the hand, such as tools (gardening hoe or hammer) or sports equipment (tennis racket), typically causes calluses on the hands.

Calluses and corns on the feet are often caused by pressure from footwear.

· Tight shoes squeeze the foot.

· High-heeled shoes squeeze the front part of the foot.

· Loose shoes may cause your foot to slide and rub against the shoe.

· Shoes with a thin sole can create more pressure on the ball of the foot when walking than do thicker-soled shoes.

· Wearing sandals and shoes without socks can lead to increased friction.

· The foot may rub against a seam or stitch inside the shoe.

· Socks that don’t fit may result in pressure where a sock bunches up.

Walking barefoot also causes calluses.

Calluses and corns on the feet may also be caused by repeated pressure due to sports (such as a callus on the bottom of a runner’s foot), an odd way of walking (abnormal gait), or an underlying bone structure, such as flat feet or bone spurs (small, bony growths that form along joints).

What are the symptoms?

You can tell you have a corn or callus by its appearance. A callus is hard, dry, and thick, and it may appear grayish or yellowish. It may be less sensitive to the touch than surrounding skin, and it may feel bumpy. A hard corn is also firm and thick. It may have a soft yellow ring with a gray center. A soft corn looks like an open sore.

Although calluses and corns often are not painful, they can cause pain when you are walking or wearing shoes, and they may make it hard for your feet to fit in your shoes. Any type of pressure applied to the callus or corn, such as squeezing it, can also cause pain.

How are calluses and corns diagnosed?

Calluses and corns generally are diagnosed during a physical exam. Your doctor may also ask you questions about your work, your hobbies, or the types of shoes you wear. An X-ray of the foot may be done if your doctor suspects a problem with the underlying bones.

How are they treated?

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If you have diabetes, peripheral arterial disease, peripheral neuropathy, or other conditions that cause circulatory problems or numbness, talk to your doctor before trying any treatment for calluses or corns.

Calluses and corns do not need treatment unless they cause pain. If they do cause pain, the treatment goal is to remove the pressure or friction that is causing the callus or corn, to give it time to heal. This is done by wearing footwear that fits properly and using doughnut-shaped pads (such as moleskin) or other protective padding to cushion the callus or corn. Some other types of padding include toe separators, toe crest pads, and toe caps and toe sleeves. Also, the callus or corn can be softened and the dead skin can be removed by using products such as salicylic acid.

Your doctor may use a small knife to pare (trim) the callus or corn. You may reduce the size of the callus or corn yourself by soaking your foot in warm water and then using a pumice stone to rub the dead skin away. Never cut the corn or callus yourself, especially if you have diabetes or other conditions that cause circulatory problems or numbness. In some cases, surgery may be done to remove the callus or corn or to change the underlying bone structure.

How common are calluses and corns?

Most people get calluses and corns. They are seen more frequently in people with bony feet and in women, probably because women often wear shoes that create friction on the feet, such as high-heeled or thin-soled shoes.

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What are hammer, claw, and mallet toes?

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Hammer, claw, and mallet toes are toes that do not have the right shape. They may look odd or may hurt, or both. The muscles that control your toes get out of balance and cause the toe to bend into an odd position at one or more joints. These toe problems almost always happen in the four smaller toes, not the big toe.

If you notice that your toe looks odd or hurts, talk to your doctor. You may be able fix your toe with home treatment. If you do not treat your toe right away, you are more likely to need surgery.

These toe problems develop over years and are common in adults. Women have more of these problems than men because of the types of shoes they may wear, such as high heels.

What causes hammer, claw, and mallet toes?

Tight shoes are the most common cause of these toe problems. Wearing tight shoes can cause the toe muscles to get out of balance. Two muscles work together to straighten and bend the toes. If a shoe forces a toe to stay in a bent position for too long, the muscles tighten and the tendons shorten (contract). This makes it harder to straighten the toe. Over time, the toe muscles cannot straighten the toe, even if you are not wearing shoes.

Less common causes include:

· Problems in foot structure at birth. This may run in families.

· Joint diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis.

· Brain, spinal cord, or nerve injury (especially in the case of claw toe). Examples include stroke, cerebral palsy, and degenerative disc disease.

· Not using your toe. Having to stay in bed for a long period of time may cause muscles to shorten (contractures). This may lead to toe problems.

· Poor blood flow to your feet (peripheral arterial disease).

· Having little or no “feeling” in your feet (peripheral neuropathy). This is common in people with diabetes.

· Injury, such as breaking a toe.

What are the symptoms?

Pain and a toe that looks odd are symptoms of hammer, claw, and mallet toes. The toe may rub against your footwear, and you may have trouble finding shoes that fit.

· A hammer toe is a toe that bends down toward the floor at the middle toe joint. It usually happens in the second toe. This causes the middle toe joint to rise up. Hammer toes often occur with bunions.

· Claw toe often happens in the four smaller toes at the same time. The toes bend up at the joints where the toes and the foot meet. They bend down at both the middle joints and at the joints nearest the tip of the toes. This causes the toes to curl down toward the floor.

· A mallet toe often happens in the second toe, but it may happen in the other toes as well. The toe bends down at the joint closest to the tip of the toe.

See a picture of hammer, claw, and mallet toes.

In more severe cases, these toe problems may affect your balance and make it hard to walk. You may get calluses or corns where a bent toe presses against your shoe.

How are hammer, claw, and mallet toes diagnosed?

Your doctor will diagnose your toe problem by looking at your toes and asking you questions about your symptoms. People rarely need tests. Your doctor may suggest an X-ray to look at the bone structure, especially if you are thinking about having surgery.

How are they treated?

You can treat hammer, claw, and mallet toes at home by wearing footwear with lots of room for your toes, using pads and supports in the shoe, and doing toe exercises. Doing these things will give the toe room to straighten, cushion the toe and hold it straight, and make the toe muscles stronger and more flexible. You can use over-the-counter medicine to treat pain.

If your pain is too great or you cannot easily do daily activities, then surgery is possible. But there is not much research on surgeries for these toe problems. Talk to your doctor about the types of surgeries and how much they may help you.

Surgery may not help how your foot looks, and your toe problem may also come back after surgery. This is more likely if you continue to wear the types of shoes that cause toe problems.

Note:This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor.

Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information

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8 Responses

  1. hard calluse on side of big toe painful

  2. Do you make men shoes with large toebox?
    How much does a pair cost?

  3. There are some gorgeous children’s shoes around just now, manufacturers appear to recently found a imaginative vein. I’m particularly liking Italian Lelli Kellys.

  4. Great Topic. I want read more about it.

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