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The foot is a complex system of 38 bones connected by numerous joints, muscles, tendons and ligaments. The weight it supports, as well as internal and external stresses, can cause pain, inflammation, injury or disease.
University of Maryland Orthopaedics foot and ankle specialists care for common, yet painful, foot and ankle conditions.
A bunion is typically caused by an abnormal position of the first metatarsal, the foot bone behind the big toe. Over time, the position causes inflammation and thickening of a small sac of fluid in the joint of the big toe. The skin over the joint may become swollen and tender, the joint may become enlarged and the big toe may become displaced.
Bunions may just appear, but they can also be caused by genetics, foot position, improper footwear or arthritis.
Treatment for a bunion(s) includes wearing shoes that conform to the shape of the foot and do not cause pressure. Several types of surgery are also available, including osteotomy and ligament repair, that can improve the pain and appearance of the toe.
Corns and Calluses
Corns and calluses – very rarely a serious problem – are thick layers of skin that develop from the pressure or friction of shoes or two bones pressing together. Common sites for corns and calluses are on the big toe and the fifth toe, and soft corns can occur between the toes. Common sites for calluses are underneath the ends of the foot bones.
Treatment for corns and calluses may involve any of the following:
- Modifying shoes to relieve pressure on the skin
- Placing pads carefully over the corn or callus
- Having surgery to rebalance the foot or remove a bony prominence causing the corn or callus
Hammertoes are a deformity that causes the toe to have a permanent bend in the middle joint, giving it the appearance of a hammer. A biomechanical deformity causes the toe to bend sideways and tight shoes often aggravate the toe, which results in pain over the prominent bony areas around the toe.
Treatment for hammertoes may involve any/all of the following:
- Modifying shoes to accommodate the deformed toe
- Positioning pads carefully over the bony prominence
- Inserting modifications to reposition the toe and decrease pain
- Having surgery to straighten the toe