Advanced Foot and Ankle Center Blog

Posts for tag: Hammertoes

By Advanced Foot and Ankle Center
September 16, 2016
Category: Foot Care
Tags: Hammertoes  

HammertoesA hammertoe is one of the most common toe conditions, usually stemming from muscle imbalance in which the joints of the second, third, fourth or fifth toe are bent into a contracted, claw-like position. In the early stages, hammertoes are flexible and can be corrected with simple conservative measures, but if left untreated, they can become fixed and require surgery.

The most common cause of hammertoe is a muscle imbalance. Tight-fitting and high-heeled shoes often aggravate the condition, crowding your toes forward. A hammertoe can also be the result of injury in which you break or jam the toe, or from conditions like arthritis or stroke that affect nerves and muscles. In some cases, hammertoes may even be inherited.

Because of their clenched, claw-like appearance, hammertoes will generally be visibly present. Other signs and symptoms include:

  • Difficult or painful motion of a toe joint
  • Redness or swelling at a toe joint
  • Development of calluses and corns
  • Open sores in severe cases

The foot and ankle professionals at our office recommend the following for preventing and reducing the symptoms associated with hammertoe:

  • Wear comfortable, proper-fitting shoes that provide support and allow enough room for your toes
  • Avoid high-heeled or narrow-toed shoes
  • Stretch your toe muscles to relieve pressure and pain
  • Apply splints, cushions or pads to relieve pressure
  • Moisturize with cream to keep the skin soft

Generally, a modification of footwear will reduce the symptoms associated with hammertoe. Other non-surgical treatment includes padding to shield corns and calluses and orthotic devices that are placed in the shoe to help control muscle imbalance. We can help you determine the best treatment for your symptoms. Severe cases that don't respond to conservative measures may require surgery to restore your toe's flexibility and eliminate the pressure.

Hammertoes are progressive - they don't go away by themselves and the condition usually gets worse over time. Once a podiatrist at has evaluated your hammertoe, a treatment plan can be developed that is suited to your needs.

What is a Hammertoe?

Hammertoes are very common foot problems.  Hammertoe is a term used to describe a deformity that is occurring in one of the smaller toes of the foot from the 2nd to the 5th toe (pinky toe).  There term may be divided into mallet toe, claw toe, or hammertoe.  Each one of these divisions describes exactly which joint in the toe is affected.   With a mallet toe the tip of the toe is curved down.  With a claw toe all three of the joints in the toes are affected.  A hammertoe affects primarily the middle joint in the toe.

How did I get Hammertoes?

There are multiple muscles that help stabilize each of the toes and allow them to lie flat on the ground when your walking.  If there is an imbalance in the pull of one of theses muscles a hammertoe may form.  Other causes of hammertoes includes wearing shoes that are too tight, past injury or fracture to the toe, and arthritis.

Are Hammertoes bad?

Hammertoes can lead to foot pain and discomfort especially in closed toed shoe gear.  Redness and swelling in the areas where the toes are rubbing in the shoes typically occur first followed by painful corns or calluses in the areas where this rubbing is occurring.  Some people complaint of stiff joints and pain even when walking without shoes.

How are hammertoes treated?

Treatment options depend on which type of hammertoe deformity you are experiencing.  If the toes are still flexible making shoe gear modifications such as wearing wider shoes or deeper toe box shoes can accommodate the hammertoes and prevent any further pain.  Custom orthotics are also an important treatment option to help improve some of the improper biomechanical pull of the tendons and muscles acting on the toes.  If all conservative treatments have failed surgical correction of the hammertoes may be performed.  The procedure is typically performed as an outpatient at a local surgery center which allows you to rest and recuperate in the comfort of your home.  The procedures can be very complex to straighten the toes such as changing the pull of tendons in your toes, lengthening the tendons or removing small pieces of bone in the toes.

If you are suffering from painful hammertoes, corns associated with them or concerned with the look of your toes consult with one of the surgically trained Podiatrists at Advanced Foot and Ankle Center in McKinney and Prosper, Texas.  Dr. Silvers, Dr. Lloyd, and Dr. Witt are each well trained in treating conservatively and surgically painful hammertoes.  Call 972-542-2155 for an appointment today.