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Understanding Hammertoes | Dolly Stelzer, DPM

Understanding Hammertoes



A hammertoe is a foot deformity that occurs due to an imbalance in the muscles, tendons, or ligaments that normally hold the toe straight. The toe oftentimes resembles a claw-like shape and can produce significant discomfort and pain. It can be caused by the type of shoes you wear, your foot structure, trauma, and certain disease processes. The most common complaint is rubbing and irritation at the top of the middle knuckle joint of the toe, especially when wearing enclosed shoes.


  • Pain in the affected toes
  • Development of corns on the top of the joint
  • Joint Swelling and/or Redness
  • Pain in the ball of the foot under the bent toe


Certain Diseases – Arthritis and diabetes may make you more likely to develop a hammertoe

Trauma – Direct trauma to the toes could potentially lead to hammertoe

Genetics – People who are genetically predisposed to hammertoe are often more susceptible

Ill-fitting shoes – Narrow or tight fitting shoes may caused the toes to bend to fit into the shoe

Foot structure – Having high arches or bunions may make you more prone to developing a hammertoe


Most conservative treatments are geared towards relief of pain. If you have a hammertoe, there are certain things that you can do before heading to your podiatrist. It is recommended that you wear a comfortable shoe that provides enough room for your toes. Protective toe pads and anti-inflammatories or NSAIDS are also other viable options that can provide comfort.

If your toe pain persists, you may want to have your hammertoe looked at by one of our podiatrists at Physicians Footcare.

Your options with us range from custom orthotics or inserts to relieve the pressure placed on the toes to a corticosteroid injection to even possibly surgery. It is important to seek assistance from a podiatrist in order to determine which treatment option will work best for you.

If you have any questions please contact Physicians Footcare.

Dolly Stelzer, DPM

Physicians Footcare, South Carolina



Do You Have Nail Fungus? That's A Shame! | Renee Hutto-Altman, DPM


If you have nail fungus, you are ready to hide your toes!  Physicians Footcare wants you to show them to the world after we have helped to treat this problem.

What are some signs of nail fungus?  Lifting of the nail from the nail bed, changes in color, brittle nails, extra skin under the nails.

Can it become serious?  Fungus can spread from nail to nail and is contagious to others in yourhousehold.  Other complications include loss of the nail, bacterial infection, and recurrence after treatment.

Is it preventable?  YES!  Make sure you don’t go barefoot in public places (gyms, hotels, pools).  Don’t share shoes or purchase used shoes.  Be very cautious of nail salons and look at the feet of your family members to make sure they don’t have a problem.

Is it treatable?  Yes, it is!  At Physicians Footcare, we will confirm the diagnosis, and recommend treatment based on your medical history.  Treatments include creams, nail lacquers, laser, and oral treatment.  Your physician will also instruct you regarding the best shoe and sock hygiene.

Don’t delay.  Get ready for summer and call a Physicians Footcare office near you to schedule your consultation.  We are ready to help!





Renee Hutto-Altman, DPM
Physicians Footcare, LLC

Men's Health: Toenail Fungus | Jamelah Lemon, DPM



Men’s Health: Toenail Fungus:

Its summertime and one of the best feelings in the world is walking on the beach barefoot while feeling the warm sand between your toes. However for most people, they are too embarrassed because of one of the most common conditions we see in      podiatry...Particularly for men, it’s like a dirty little secret . . . They have toenail fungus.

Men are more prone to getting fungus in their toenails due to practicing certain behaviors that increase their risk; such as wearing closed toed shoes, walking barefoot in public showers or restrooms, or wearing damp socks from excess sweating. Other risk factors include advanced age, poor circulation, diabetes, smoking poor immune systems and some people are just more genetically predisposed to the condition.

Toenail fungus is caused when fungi gets underneath thenail causing an infection. It can make them appear thick, crumbling, dark, have an abnormal shape and they can also develop an foul smelling odor. This can be embarrassing and make men avoid wearing sandals or flip flops. If the infection progresses the nail can get so thick they become difficult to cut and painful when wearing shoes.

There are several myths about treatment for foot fungus from Listerine, bleach, tea tree oil, onion peels, Vick’s vapor rub and etc. There is no supporting literature that these treatments work. They will not get rid of the infection but your feet will smell like bleach or Vick’s vapor rubJ.

The good news is there are several treatment options available. Prior to starting any treatment, you should have a podiatrist perform a nail biopsy to make sure you actually have fungus because it could be something else. If a fungal infection is confirmed your podiatrist can recommend the best treatment options for you which could be an oral or topical medication or combination of both. There are a lot of over the counter medications that have no effect on toenail fungus so it is important that you are prescribed a medication from your podiatrist that is FDA approved. If the diseased is severe it can take many months to get rid of the infection so it is important to be consistent with the treatment. In some cases surgical removal of the nail can be performed. The nail can be removed temporarily to allow a topical medication to better penetrate the nail bed. If several treatment options have failed and the nail is very painful, permanent removal of the nail is also an option.

When you are treating foot fungus, you also need to treat the shoes. Fungus harbors in damp, dark moist environments so it can still thrive in those steel-toed boots even if you treated it in your toenails and/or skin. If you don’t get a good antifungal spray for your shoes, the infection can return and start a vicious cycle.

When you get fungus in your nails or skin you are more prone to getting it again so here are some pointers to avoid reinfection:

  1. Wash your feet daily with soap and water, dry them well and use a good foot powder
  2. Never wear anyone else’s shoes
  3. Wear breathable, clean, white cotton socks (exceptions for special occasions)
  4. Wear shoes that fit well and are made of materials that breathe
  5. Change shoes or socks more than once a day
  6. Avoid walking barefoot in public showers, hotels and gyms and wear shower shoes
  7. Disinfect instruments used to cut toenails or any home pedicure tools

So men don’t be afraid to kick off your shoes and have your feet checked for fungus. You should not feel embarrassed or ashamed because it is a common condition that affects many people but it is a treatable condition. Come visit us at Physicians Footcare for an evaluation so we can get your toes back in the sand.


Jamelah Lemon, DPM,                                                                                                                                                                                  Physicians Footcare, LLC

Let’s Talk About Stress . . . Fractures | Jamelah Lemon, DPM


The temperatures are dropping as we enter into the cooler seasons of fall and winter which usually means we put away our sandals and bring out our boots. In the cooler months, some hospitals report up a 500% increase in ER visits usually due to slips and falls. Stress fractures, a hairline crack in the bone of the foot, are one of the more common winter-related injuries that make walking very painful. If left untreated that fracture could develop into a complete break in the bone.

Stress fractures can be misleading to some because there is the misconception that they only occur from a slip, trip or fall but that is a myth. Athletes can get stress fractures from continuous weight bearing activities such as running, gymnastics and other sports. Others can develop stress fractures from simply standing on a hard floor too long. According to the American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons, stress fractures can occur in a wide variety of seemingly minor circumstances like standing or walking for long periods of time. Some runners believethat since they can still walk on their foot there is no need to rest or reduce their activity level. “It can’t be broken, I can walk on it!” If someone continues to run or walk on it untreated; it could make the condition worse and the recovery prolonged.

It is important to recognize the signs of a stress fracture especially after a fall or stressful activity. Pain, swelling, redness and possibly bruising over the area can all be signs of a stress fracture. The symptoms usually improve with rest but come back once activity is resumed. If the pain continues after rest you want to follow the RICE protocol – Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation.

If the pain and swelling last longer than a few days a visit to a podiatrist for an x-ray is needed. Treatment may include crutches, a surgical shoe or a cast or boot to immobilize the fracture. In some cases, surgery may be necessary if the stress fracture has progressed into a full fracture. Treatment can take 4 to 6 weeks IF you catch the problem early. Stress fractures can recur in some people especially in those who have fragile, soft bones. They can also occur in people with a certain foot type such as those with flat feet, high arched feet or long bones in their foot.

No matter if it is the first or third time you have a stress fracture, proper and early treatment is recommended, which includes allowing your foot to rest. If you suspect you may have a stress fracture please contact the team at Physicians Footcare so we can help you take the first step toward getting back to what you love to do.


Written by:

Jamelah Lemon, DPM

Physicians Footcare