Monthly Archives: December 2009

What Can You Do to Relieve Hammer Toe Pain?

What is hammer toe?

The term hammer toe came from the way the toe hits or hammers on the floor with each step. Hammer toes are generally caused by a tendon imbalance in your toes and tight muscles in your feet. The discomfort from this and cramping in your toes can radiate to your entire foot and lower leg, and this might lead to posture and balance changes (affecting the way you walk). Often people will develop hammer toe from leaning too far forward causing the toes to grip the ground to keep them upright. People with hammer toe may also have difficulty finding comfortable shoes due to the pain they feel in their toes or feet.  The toe first affected will generally be your longest toe and will only affect your middle three toes.

There is conflicting beliefs in the medical community whether or not shoes might be part of the cause of hammer toe. Shoes that narrow toward the toe may make your forefoot look smaller, but I believe they also push the smaller toes into a flexed (bent) position. The toes rub against the shoe, leading to the formation of corns and calluses, which further aggravate the condition. A higher heel forces the foot down and squishes the toes against the shoe, increasing the pressure and the bend in the toe. Eventually, the toe muscles become unable to straighten the toe, even when there is no confining shoe. Also, the chances of getting hammer toe increases from 2-20% as you age.

What can you do?

SHOES and FOOTWEAR
Make sure your shoes are:
Properly sized
Low-heels
Adjustable
Lots of room in the shoe box
Made out of breathable and flexible materials
Avoid vinyl or plastic materials

Cushioning or supportive items such as straps, non-medicated felt pads, moleskin, splints, toe shields or caps protect and reposition your toe and relieve pain. Talk to your doctor, podiatrist or chiropractor about corrective footwear, orthotics or other foot devices. These can provide support and alignment (check to see if you wear out the soles of your shoes on one side) You should also avoid super-snug stockings, nylons and socks.

MASSAGE and PAMPER
Professional massage, physical therapy, foot manipulation and reflexology are so very good for hammer toe. You could also give yourself a gentle foot massage after vigorous activities or long periods of standing. To take care of your corns and calluses you can soak your toes in alternating warm and cold water baths; gently rub your corns or calluses with a pumice stone or nail file while your feet are in warm water.

EXERCISE
Exercises that stretch and strengthen your foot muscles and tendons keep your muscles balanced. Stretching your toes manually by taking each one individually and stretching them in all directions will help increase their flexibility. One exercise can be done by placing corks or foam separators between the toes and squeezing for 5-10 seconds, performing 10 repetitions. You can also use your toes to pick things up off the floor. While you watch television or read, you can put a towel flat under your feet and use your toes to crumple it. Another exercise involves stretching a thick rubber band around all five toes and stretching the band as wide as possible by flexing the toes outward. Repeat on each foot 10 times.

There you go folks, a lot of information about hammer toe. Believe it or not I pared it down. Thanks for reading PJ Harris, LMP http://www.pjharris.com/

Why Should You Avoid Using Mineral Oil On Your Skin?

As a massage therapist, I spend a great deal of my time in close proximity to skin. The care of skin is pretty important to me. I want to let you all in on some information about mineral oil.

Mineral oil is a common ingredient in many household products. It is found in lotions, soaps, cosmetics and motor oil. Mineral oil is a clear, liquid oil with no sent and will not spoil.  The word “mineral” makes this product sound like a nutrient, but in fact it is produced as a by-product of the distillation of gasoline from crude oil. Mineral oil is the leftover liquid, and because it is abundant, it is very inexpensive. In fact, it is more expensive to dispose of mineral oil, than to purchase it.

Remember the skin is the largest organ in the body and the only protective barrier you have. The importance of your skin’s health is immeasurable.

The problem is that mineral oil is foreign to the human body and has many harmful effects:

  • Mineral oil acts as a thin plastic layer on the skin.
  • It is difficult to absorb and clogs the pores, which slows the skin’s ability to eliminate toxins.
  • Once the oil is absorbed, it is broken down by the liver and passes through the intestinal tract. When the oil is present in the intestinal tract, it will absorb all of the fat-soluable vitamins found there. It is essentially stealing important vitamins from the body, which the body will not be able to replace. This can eventually lead to nutritional deficiencies.
  • Studies have also shown forms of pneumonia caused by mineral oil decreasing lung function, known as lipoid pneumonia. Because of these dangers, the medical community has condemned the use of mineral oil taken orally or as an ingredient in medications.

In my private massage practice, I have started using a lotion from all natural ingredients. It wont clog my client’s pores or leave them feeling greasy after they leave my office.

Here are some other helpful links about mineral oil:

Material safety Data Sheet from JT Baker http://www.jtbaker.com/msds/englishhtml/m7700. htm

Call For Change To Mineral Oil Label http://www.personalmd.com/news/a1998122802.shtml

Thanks for reading, PJ Harris, LMP. http://www.pjharris.com/

What Do You Think About the USPSTF Breast Cancer Prevention Guidelines?

I admit, when I first read the USPSTF Mammography guidelines that no longer recommends routine screening for women between the ages of 40 and 49, I was outraged. It seems like a way for insurance companies to cut costs at the expense of women’s lives. I decided to do some research starting with an answer to the question; What is the American Cancer Society’s response to these new guidelines?

I found an actual official response statement from Otis W. Brawley, M.D., chief medical officer, American Cancer Society. Dr Brawley states regarding his opinion of  routine mammograms;

“As someone who has long been a critic of those overstating the benefits of screening, I use these words advisedly: this is one screening test I recommend unequivocally, and would recommend to any woman 40 and over, be she a patient, a stranger, or a family member.”

Further in his response he continues;

“With its new recommendations, the USPSTF is essentially telling women that mammography at age 40 to 49 saves lives; just not enough of them.”

I don’t know about you, but my outrage is not decreasing.

Dr. Brawley says that the ACS also studied the same data that the USPSTF studied and they do not change their opinion of yearly mammograms for women 40-49 and;

 “In fact, data show the technology used today is better than that used in the studies in this review, and more modern studies show that mammography is achieving better results than those achieved in these early experimental studies that go back as far as the mid-60’”

Read the full article HERE.

I am long past being ready for a cure to this dreadful illness that takes so many lives and makes lots of money for the medical industry. So, I am wondering, what do you feel about the new guidelines? Let me know in the comment section below. Thanks for reading PJ Harris, LMP. http://www.pjharris.com/