Hammertoe is a condition which we see the toes pulling back towards the foot, making the toes unable to lie flat. This can cause pressure on the toe that can lead to painful corns and calluses.
The most common cause of a hammertoe is a muscle or tendon imbalance in the foot. Hammertoes can be further aggravated by shoes that are too small which can force longer toes into a cramped position. It is also possible to inherit hammertoes with your genes, as well as injuries have been known to cause hammertoes on occasion.
By the time most people seek out a podiatrist to address the hammertoe it may already be too late to take any course of action except surgery to correct the joint. When a hammertoe starts it is still flexible and usually doesn’t cause much pain, which is probably why most patients don’t go to a doctor in the early stages of hammertoe. While most hammertoes will require surgical correction in certain cases if the hammertoe is caught early enough there are several conservative treatments that can be tried.
Hammertoes can be treated conservatively with a change in shoes. Wearing shoes with a roomier toe box (the area of the shoe where the toes rest) allow the hammertoe more room to move around without painful repetitive rubbing. Additionally you can use padding to cushion any corns or calluses caused by the hammertoe. If the hammertoe is causing pain you can take over the counter NSAID’s such as aspirin or ibuprofen to control inflammation causing the pain.
If a hammertoe requires surgical correction there are two different types of surgery that can be performed depending on the condition of the hammertoe. If the hammertoe is still flexible then a surgery called arthroplasty will be performed. With arthroplasty the surgeon will shave down the toe bones and lengthen the tendon, allowing for the toe to lie flat. If the hammertoe is not flexible then the podiatrist will opt for a surgery called arthrodesis in which the toe is broken and fused, usually with the aid of surgical hardware such as a pin.
If you or a loved one is suffering from a painful hammertoe please give your nearest Ankle & Foot Associates, LLC location. The friendly doctors and staff will be happy to help you get back on your feet again.