A hammertoe is an abnormal bending of one or multiple joints of the little toes. This causes the toe to remain stuck in an abnormal bent position. It happens most frequently in the second, third or fourth toe. Hammertoes can be mild deformities but if left untreated can become progressively worse. Intervention and treatment is always required.
One major cause of hammertoes is a muscle-tendon imbalance which leads to the bending of the toes. This imbalance is often caused by structural or neurological changes in the foot over time. Hammertoes can also become aggravated or may be caused by improperly fitting shoes that cramp the foot when worn.
Common symptoms of hammertoes include pain and irritation of the toe when wearing shoes, secondary corn and callus formation on the toe, between the toes or on the ball of the foot; inflammation or redness, contracture of the toe and open sores may develop in more severe cases due to friction against the shoe.
Hammertoes are a progressive condition that does not resolve without intervention and gets worse over time. Once your foot and ankle surgeon has evaluated and arrived at your diagnosis, a treatment plan is developed to best suit your needs. There are a variety of both nonsurgical and surgical treatment options depending on the severity of the hammertoes.
For mild cases, your foot and ankle surgeon may recommend changing shoe wear to ones with softer material and more roomy toe boxes, wearing pads to cushion corns and calluses, wearing orthotic devices to correct the foot position and taking anti-inflammatory medications such as NSAIDs to address pain and swelling.
For more severe cases where hammertoes have become more rigid and painful or when an open sore has developed, surgery is recommended. Surgery will take into consideration many factors including age, previous medical history, the number of toes involved and other coexisting foot deformities. Your foot and ankle surgeon will discuss the treatment plan that is best for you.
If you or someone you know is suffering from hammertoes, please call our office for an appointment to discuss treatment options that are right for you.