What is a hammertoe?

A hammertoe is a toe joint that bends upward permanently. Hammertoe can occur in all toes except your big toes. Hammertoes are typically a minor deformity in the beginning, but they significantly worsen if untreated.

Hammertoe doesn’t go away on its own. Once a hammertoe is well established, it's very difficult to correct it without surgery. If you're dealing with a hammertoe, sooner is always better for treatment.

What causes hammertoes?

Hammertoes are caused mainly by muscle and tendon imbalance. The imbalance causes the instability that leads to the toe bending upwards. Other possible causes of hammertoe include trauma to the toe and genetics. Some kinds of shoes, mainly shoes with a constricting toe box like high heels or shoes that fit badly, can aggravate a hammertoe.

What are the signs of hammertoe?

Some signs of hammertoe to watch for include:

  • Abnormal bending of your toe
  • Toe discomfort or pain when wearing shoes that enclose your toes tightly
  • Corns and calluses on the top of your toe, between toes, on on the bottom of your foot
  • Toe inflammation
  • Toe burning

In severe hammertoe, you could even develop open sores that don't heal on top of your toe. If you have the signs of hammertoe, don't delay in seeing a specialists podiatrist for help.

How does the podiatrist diagnose hammertoe?

Diagnosis usually includes a thorough foot exam, gentle foot manipulation, and X-ray images to determine how severe the bone deformities are. With this information in hand, your specialists podiatrist creates a custom treatment solution for your hammertoe.

How is hammertoe treated?

Hammertoes can often be treated with a noninvasive approach, as long as you seek treatment early. Your treatment may include one or more of the following.

  • Corn and callus pads
  • Footwear changes, avoiding tight toe boxes
  • Custom orthotics to correct any imbalance
  • Corticosteroid injections for pain and inflammation relief
  • Splints or straps to reposition your toe
  • Medication like over-the-counter ibuprofen for pain relief

If your hammertoe is rigid and immovable, your podiatrist may need to perform surgery to remove excess bone, realign the toe, and correct other issues like non-healing wounds at the same time.

For relief from hammertoes, use the online scheduling tool or call the location of specialists nearest you today.

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