What is a Hammertoe?
A hammertoe is a foot deformity typically found in the lower digits of the foot. In this condition, the toe is bent at the middle joint, making it look like a hammer. Hammertoes can also lead to other foot conditions such as bunions, corns, or calluses. Foot pain and discomfort caused by hammertoes should not be considered normal and may require treatment. Here at DM Foot and Ankle Associates, we are proud to offer in-office hammertoe treatment to our patients including in-office surgery.
There are two types of hammertoes:
- Flexible Hammertoes- This is the first stage of hammertoes where the joint and toe are still moveable. It is less serious and can be treated more conservatively if caught early on.
- Fixed Hammertoes- This type of hammertoe is more developed and often the result of a flexible hammertoe being left untreated. The tendons are tight causing the joint to become immobile. This type will often require more invasive treatment.
Symptoms of the hammertoe condition may include:
- Pain in your feet, especially while wearing shoes
- Calluses or corns that are caused by toes rubbing against your shoes
- Swelling or redness
- Bent toes
- Open sores from where the joint contracts
- Restricted or painful motion of the joint
Hammertoes are often the result of a muscle imbalance or due to constant improper footwear, but they can also be caused by a combination of factors. Other factors may include genetics, trauma to the toe, and conditions such as arthritis or diabetes.
Treatment varies depending on the type of hammertoe and condition of the patient. After a thorough examination, one of our double board-certified foot and ankle surgeons will recommend the appropriate line of treatment for you.
Non-Surgical Treatment Options
- Change your shoe gear. This allows more room for your toes to lay flat.
- Splinting and padding. These can help to reposition the toe and alleviate pressure to painful corns.
- Callus trimming. Removing the dead skin can alleviate sores. Ove-the-counter corn and callus pads should NEVER be used. These devices have the potential to harm both good and bad skin causing sores and infections.
- Orthotics. These prescriptive shoe inserts help to distribute the force across your foot more evenly and help with muscle imbalances.
- Cortisone injections offer a potent reduction in inflammation in a localized joint to acutely relieve pain.
If your symptoms are severe, surgery may be needed. The type of procedure often depends on whether your toe joints are flexible or rigid. Inflexible joints, the tendon is cut and repositions to release the buckled joint. In rigid joints, a piece of bone from the joint may be removed to help straighten a rigid toe. A pin may be used to hold the remaining bone in position during healing. Tendon repair may also be necessary when surgically correcting rigid joints.
For more information on hammertoes and the treatment options available to you, please contact DM Foot and Ankle today. Be sure to ask us about our September special: 15% off Pedifix products!