Hammertoes are a common problem seen at A Home of Happy Feet. Hammertoes are any bending or curling of the toes. Contrary to popular belief, shoes do not cause hammertoes, although a tight fitting shoe will certainly aggravate an existing hammertoe. A typical patient with hammertoes will complain of pain at the top of the bend in the toe, usually caused from shoe irritation. If left untreated, this can lead to an open sore or infection. Hammertoes will also result in painful corns over the prominence of the hammertoe.

Fortunately, many treatments are available for hammertoes. Proper fitting shoes with adequate room for the hammertoes can relieve symptoms. Painful corns can be safely trimmed and padded by the physicians at A Home of Happy Feet. Patients are cautioned not to try to cut the corns themselves, as cutting too deep may lead to bleeding and infection. Corn removers from drug stores can lead to burns to the surrounding normal skin and especially in diabetics and patient’s with poor circulation, serious infections and other complications.

Hammertoes cannot be straightened without surgical correction. If non-surgical options fail to relieve the symptoms, there are a variety of surgical options. There are new small internal devices available that are used to hold the toe straight while it heals, rather than external pins. If you suffer from painful hammertoes, make an appointment Dr. Ronald Douglas at A Home of Happy Feet. He will preform a comprehensive evaluation your feet and recommendation for best treatment of your hammertoes.


“Doctor, what is that bump on the inside of my foot?” is a common question at the home of happy feet.   The patient usually points to an enlargement on the inside of the foot, just behind the big toe.  “That is a bunion” is the usual answer.  The patient then commonly blames their shoes for causing the problem, although typically shoes only aggrevate an existing bunion.

A bunion is really more of a shift of the bone behind the big toe, forming what appears to the patient as a “bump” that rubs against the shoe and causes the pain, redness and swelling that concerns the patient.  As part of the bunion, the great toe will move towards the second toe, sometimes causing pain between the toes.  Most bunions are caused by the type of foot you inherit producing an imballance at the big toe joint that, after thousands of steps, leads to the bunion.  It is usually a progressive deformity, starting small, but gradually enlarging.

Non-surgical treatment of bunions involves trying to remove irritation from the prominence of the bunion.  Non-medicated pads help cushion the bone from rubbing against the shoe.  Wider shoes with a deeper toebox will also help relieve irritation. In more severe cases, ice, over the counter medication such as advil or ibuprophen and rarely cortisone injections are ultilized.  Braces or straps designed to “pull” the toe back straight, in our experience, are not helpful.

If non-surgical treatment fails, the home of happy feet doctors can explain various surgical options for correction of the bunion.  Usually this will involve removing a small prominence of bone combined with realigning the bone behind the great toe.  The actual choice of bunion procedure is specifically tailored to the individual depending on such factors as their age, activity level, health status and the severity of the bunion.  If you are suffering from painful bunions,  our doctors can help relieve you pain and customize a treatment plan to best suit your needs.

Painful Ingrown Toenails

One of the most common problems seen by Dr. Ronald Douglas at A Home of Happy Feet in Spokane Washington are painful ingrown toenails.

Very often a patient will call first thing in the morning after being awake most of the night with the pain from the ingrown toenail. Sometimes they report drainage or redness that may indicate an infection.  We make every effort to see the patient that day to relieve their pain and treat the infection.  Others have suffered for weeks, trying soaks and other home remedies without success.  I tell patients most ingrown toenails are like splinters of wood in you skin.  As long as the splinter is in your skin, it will be painful, red and swollen.  Once the splinter is removed, the skin usually heals.  Similarly, most ingrown toenails will not get better until the “splinter” or ingrown portion of the toenail is removed.  In mild cases of ingrown toenails, Dr. Douglas may be able to simply trim out the ingrown portion of the toenail.  More often, the ingrown toenail is painful enough that a local anesthetic is given at the base of the toe before the ingrown portion of the toenail is removed.  In general, this procedure will relieve the patient’s pain and reduce the redness and swelling.

Unfortunately, as the removed “splinter” of toenail grows back, the same problem can happen again.  If the ingrown toenail becomes chronic, an  office procedure can remove the ingrown portion of the toenail permanently, without disturbing the rest of the toenail.

If you suffer from painful ingrown toenails please call the office for an appointment  at 509-838-2929

For more information about ingrown toenails, check the link below to the American Podiatric Medical Association Website:


Heel Pain

With the beating a person’s feet take during a lifetime, it is not surprising that one of the most common complaints seen at A Home of Happy Feet is heel pain. Although there can be many causes of heel pain, by far the most common cause is plantar fasciitis. The typical patient will complain of pain on the very bottom of the heel, especially when first arising in the morning.  After walking, it will seem to get better.  Later in the day the pain will seem to return, especially if they sit and then get up again.

The cause of all this pain, the plantar fascia, is a ligament that attaches to the bottom of the heel bone and extends up the entire arch to the ball of the foot.  If you pull up on your big toe and feel a tight band in the arch, that is the plantar fascia.  You can think of the plantar fascia like a shock absorber in a car.  It helps to protect the foot from the tremendous forces it endures when your foot impacts the ground.  Sometimes these forces are so great they cause an inflammation of the plantar fascia itself, hence the name plantar fasciitis.  In cases where the inflammation of the plantar fascia has been present for some time, a “heel spur” may develop where the ligament attaches to the heel bone.

There are a variety of treatments are available from Dr. Ronald Douglas  for patients suffering from plantar fasciitis.  A detailed examination needs to be done to first eliminate other causes of heel pain, such as fractures of the heel bone, tendonitis or arthritis.  Treatment of plantar fasciitis at  A Home of Happy Feet is initially directed at reducing the stress on the plantar fascia that caused the inflammation.  This usually involves a  tapping of the arch and stretching exercises of the Achilles tendon, followed by a supportive device (orthotic)  placed in the shoes to support the plantar fascia.  Other treatments  aimed at reducing the inflammation include oral anti-inflammatory (advil, Ibuprofen) and cortisone injections. In cases that do not respond to conservative therapy, there are surgical options available.

If you suffer from heel pain, please call A Home of Happy Feet and make an appointment with Dr. Ronald Douglas at 509-838-2929.  For more information, consult the link below: