• What is?
  • Causes
  • Treatment

What Is a Hammertoe?

A hammertoe is a deformity that is the result of a contracture of the joint or joints of the lesser digits of the foot. This contracture can put unwanted pressure on the toes and the foot causing pain especially when wearing shoe gear.

Hammertoes are a progressive deformity as they get worse over time. In the beginning stages, a hammertoe can be a flexible deformity and all the symptoms that may arise in most cases can be managed with conservative treatment. However as the deformity progresses it will decrease in flexibility become more and more rigid. At this point conservative treatment may not relieve any symptoms associated with this deformity.

Symptoms: Hammertoes can cause a variety of symptoms that include pain and or irritation of the toe or toes especially when ambulating and wearing shoe gear. Also, constant friction and pressure on the toes as well as the foot can result in the build up of corns and calluses on the top of the toes, in between the toes, or on the distal tip of the toes and on the bottom of the foot.


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Causes

Hammertoes in most cases are caused by a biomechanical fault resulting in a muscle imbalance. This causes the toe to contract that leads to the bending of the toe.

Hammertoes also can be from the result of a trauma to the toe. And in some cases there may be a genetic component.

Treatment

There are many non-surgical treatment options available for hammertoes that include:

  • Changes in shoe gear to a shoe that provides more room at the front of the shoe or toe box to relive any pressure on the toes.

  • Custom orthotic devices can also be used to correct any biomechanical abnormality and help correct any muscle imbalance.

  • Padding along with sharp debridement of the corns and calluses can help alleviate any pressure and or pain, associated with the hammertoe deformity and also slow the progression of the calluses.

  • Medications such a non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (Motrin, Aleve, Advil etc.) can be used to help reduce and pain or inflammation.

  • Corticosteroid injections are also used to help ease pain and inflammation caused by hammertoe.

  • Strapping and splinting the toes can also be used to place the toes in correct alignment to help from pain associated with the toes rubbing onto shoe gear.

However, if all conservative treatment fail and the toes are ridged surgery is also an option to correct the deformity. If you feel you may have a hammertoe or are experiencing pain associated with hammertoes don't hesitate to call us here at Atlantic Foot and Ankle where our podiatric physicians will be happy to evaluate your hammertoes and discuss treatment options with you. Please visit any of our five locations, Savannah, Hinesville, Statesboro, Claxton, or Bluffton and speak with our podiatrists to create a treatment plan perfectly suited to you and your needs.

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