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Hammertoe and Flat Feet: Common Foot Conditions That Are Often Overlooked

Your guide to understanding what your feet are trying to tell you

Feet and toes are easy to forget about until you experience a problem. In fact, many people would rather avoid any foot related topics all together. However, overlooking foot problems may cause unnecessary suffering—as diagnosing discomfort and pain in the foot can come with simple cures.

Your feet may save your life

It might seem like a minor inconvenience, however, little problems with your feet can be a sign of something serious. These seemingly benign symptoms are often signs that it’s time to seek medical attention:


• Decreased hair growth on toes and ankles may is a sign of poor circulation that could be caused by arterial disease—a buildup of plaque in the arteries. Also keep an eye out for purplish toes, and thin or shiny skin.


• Diabetes can restrict of blood flow to the feet. This allow wounds to persist and prevent healing—cause tingling or numbness in your feet and toes If you experience any of these symptoms, request a blood sugar test from your doctor.


• Heart infections can cause red lines under finger and toe nails known as “splinter hemorrhages”. This linear discoloration can be a sign of an inner heart infection known as “endocarditis”. If left untreated, endocarditis can lead to cardiac arrest.


• Lung cancer and heart disease sometimes manifests clubbing (or swollen tissue) around the fingers and toes. It can also be a sign of intestinal disease, or a lung infection.


If you notice any of these symptoms it’s vital to see a doctor right away, however, some foot problems are a nuisance that can be easily remedied.


Also known as “rotated toe,” hammer toe gets its name due to the bend at the middle joint in such a way that it looks like a hammer. Poorly fit shoes or a muscle imbalance are the leading causes of the condition. If you’re toes appear crooked, have knuckles that budge enough to form corns, or a toe that doesn’t rest flat on the ground, you may have hammertoe. Fortunately, it’s a reversible condition.

Treatment can be as simple as moving into roomier, flat bottomed, shoes that are square at the toe rather than pointed. Toe exercises can also help stretch and lengthen the muscles back into a more comfortable shape. If surgery is necessary, it typically only requires an outpatient visit.

Flat feet

Pes planus, or flat feet, refers directly to the elimination of the arch of the foot, either from birth or by injury. Posterior tibial tendon dysfunction (PTTD), as it’s sometimes referred to when the onset is later in life, is most commonly caused by wearing high heels over longer periods of time, causing the Achilles tendon and calve to shorten, preventing the ankle from bending properly.

A simple way to self-diagnose flat feet is to analyze your footprint. If the print looks complete, you may be suffering from flat feet. A healthy foot typically doesn’t allow the arch to touch the walking surface, so it tends to look more incomplete (such as image 2—or 1 if you have a high arch).

It’s difficult to diagnose flat feet until around age six. In extreme cases, surgery is necessary, however most children simply outgrow the condition or only require better fitting shoes and/or arch supports.

Adults with PTTD can be treated with insoles, orthotic food support, and in more stubborn cases, correctional surgery can be employed to lengthen and adjust tendons, or implant a supportive arch.

Take care of those doggies!

Whether it’s a life threatening condition or painful hindrance, proper foot health is essential for maintaining a high quality of life. Dr. Coletta and her staff have the knowledge and skills to get you up and running again so you can get back to living life to the fullest! Contact us to schedule an appointment today.

Dr. Nina L. Coletta has been practicing Podiatry for over twenty years. Her practice remains on the cutting edge of advancements in Podiatric Medicine, providing state-of-the-art laser treatments, three-dimensional technology to construct custom orthotics and braces, and in-house arterial and venous studies of the lower extremity. From pediatrics to geriatrics, her staff provides superior care in a warm, welcoming environment.

Nina L. Coletta, DPM, PA

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