What to Know About Hammertoe
Hammertoe is a foot deformity that causes a person’s toes to bend instead of projecting out from the foot. The condition can affect any toe; however it most commonly affects the second or third toe on your foot.
Hammertoes usually start as a mil deformity and can even be present at birth, however they tend to progressively get worse over time. Luckily, hammertoe is a treatable condition and nothing to lose sleep over.
Common Causes of Hammertoe
Our toe usually contains two joints that allow it to bend at the middle and the bottom. Hammertoe results when the middle joint becomes fixed or curves downward toward the ground.
Some of the common causes of this deformity are:
• Muscle/tendon imbalance
• A traumatic toe injury
• A high arch foot type
• Wearing ill fitting shoes
• Elongated toe
• Your big toe pointing inward towards your second toe
• Neurological conditions
Risk Factors for this Condition
You may be more predisposed to developing a hammertoe if the following criteria apply to you:
• Being in the habit of wearing pointy-toed or tight shoes
• A family history of hammertoe
• High arch foot
• Tight calf muscle
• Bunion deformity
Symptoms to Watch Out For
You may be experiencing mild or severe symptoms if you have a hammertoe. Let’s look at some of these symptoms:
• Pain in shoes
• Corns or callouses on your foot
• Inability to walk with ease
• Toes that bend inward like claws
• Toes that bend downwards
• Inability to wiggle your foot or flex your toes
A doctor can diagnose a hammertoe with the help of a physical examination, imaging tests such as X-rays can help to form a treatment plan.
Your Treatment Options
The procedure for treating your hammertoe will depend on the severity of the condition. A mild hammertoe can be managed by simply changing your shoes for another pair that fits you better and feels more comfortable on your feet.
If your hammertoe was caused by a high arch, you could consider wearing toe pads or insoles within your shoes for support. These pads shift the position of your toes, correcting the appearance and relieving any pain.
Other options to aid in comfort available include toe cushions, splints and pads to treat hammertoes, bunions and corns.
Be careful to not pop any blisters and aggravate the condition of your toes further. It will only make your pain worse and increase your chances of developing an infection.
When is surgery needed?
If the deformity is rigid and you are not able to reposition the affected toe, surgery may be the only option to reduce the hammer toe into a corrected position. If a open sore has developed, surgery is needed.
Hammertoe surgery is usually carried out on an outpatient basis, and the patient can return home the same day as the surgery. The procedure selected will depend on the extent of the deformity, with toes are involved, age, level of activity and other factors.
The length of recovery will vary depending on the procedure performed.
The Sooner You Treat It, The Better
Hammer toes are progressive- they don’t go away by themselves and they usually get worse over time. Contact Bay Area Foot Care and schedule your consultation to meet with a skilled medical professional who can advise you on the ideal solution for your case.