Hammertoe

What is a Hammertoe?
A hammertoe is a contracture—or bending—of the toe at the first joint of the digit, called the proximal interphalangeal joint. This bending causes the toe to appear like an upside-down V when looked at from the side. Any toe can be involved, but the condition usually affects the second through fifth toes, known as the lesser digits. Hammertoes are more common to females than males.

Symptoms

      1. Pain upon pressure at the top of the bent toe from footwear.
      2. The formation of corns on the top of the joint.
      3. Redness and swelling at the joint contracture.
      4. Restricted or painful motion of the toe joint.
      5. Pain in the ball of the foot at the base of the affected toe.
How Do You Get a Hammertoe?
A hammertoe is formed due an abnormal balance of the muscles in the toes. This abnormal balance causes increased pressures on the tendons and joints of the toe, leading to its contracture. Heredity and trauma can also lead to the formation of a hammertoe. Arthritis is another factor, because the balance around the toe in people with arthritis is so disrupted that a hammertoe may develop. Wearing shoes that are too tight and cause the toes to squeeze can also be a cause for a hammertoe to form.
What Will Your Podiatrist Do to Treat a Hammertoe?

The treatment options vary with the type and severity of each hammertoe, although identifying the deformity early in its development is important to avoid surgery. Podiatric medical attention should be sought at the first indication of pain and discomfort, because if left untreated, hammertoes tend to become rigid, making a nonsurgical treatment less of an option.

Your podiatrist will examine and X-ray the affected area and recommend a treatment plan specific to your condition.

Padding and Taping:
Often this is the first step in a treatment plan. Padding the hammertoe prominence minimizes pain and allows the patient to continue a normal, active life. Taping may change the imbalance around the toes and thus relieve the stress and pain.

Medication:
Anti-inflammatory drugs and cortisone injections can be prescribed to ease acute pain and inflammation caused by the joint deformity.

Orthotic Devices:
Custom shoe inserts made by your podiatrist may be useful in controlling foot function. An orthotic device may reduce symptoms and prevent the worsening of the hammertoe deformity.

Surgical Options:
Several surgical procedures are available to the podiatrist. For less severe deformities, the surgery will remove the bony prominence and restore normal alignment of the toe joint, thus relieving pain.

Severe hammertoes, which are not fully reducible, may require more complex surgical procedures.

Recuperation takes time, and some swelling and discomfort are common for several weeks following surgery. Any pain, however, is easily managed with medications prescribed by your podiatric physician.

If you’re tired of your toes rubbing on your shoes causing callus and corns, don’t live with the pain and discomfort any longer. Come see us, our doctors will be happy to go over your treatment options.