By the way, doctor: Hammertoe woes

Q. I have been told by a podiatrist that because of hammertoes, the fat pads on the ball of my foot have dissipated, causing pain when I walk or stand for long periods. I like to walk for exercise so this is a real bother. I am trying to figure out how to handle the foot and all of its idiosyncrasies.

A. The feet — they get some respect and attention, even adulation. But the toes? Not nearly enough. They help us keep our balance and are crucial to taking a good stride as we walk or run. And, as you know from firsthand experience, toe woes — hammertoes are among the most common — can take away the simple pleasure of walking. Extreme cases can be painful and quite disabling.

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