We’ve Got the Tools to Treat Hammertoes
If your toe curls downward so that only the tip is in contact with the
floor and the middle joint juts up, you have yourself a hammertoe. Aptly
named due to its resemblance to the head of a hammer, this condition is
most often seen in the second or third toe, although it can happen to
any. There are a number of reasons for hammertoes to occur, but no matter
the culprit of the curl, prompt treatment is necessary to avoid the toe
stiffening and staying in this abnormal position.
Common Toe Curling Culprits
Hammertoes typically occur due to a muscle or tendon imbalance. This results
in a structural change that affects the middle joint. Shoes that are too
small or tight are often to blame as they force the toe into a cramped
position and keep it that way. Other potential causes include: a previous
injury to the toe,
arthritis, nerve damage,
high arches, and pressure from
a bunion which forces the big toe to crowd its neighbors.
Susceptibility to the condition can also stem from an inherited trait.
In other words, if your parents or grandparents have hammertoes, it’s
likely that you will too!
Sure-Fire Signs of Trouble
Besides the obvious hammer head-like appearance, you might also experience
discomfort wearing shoes, walking, or just plain moving your toe. Often
it is hard to flex or wiggle your toes, and you may notice swelling, redness,
or a burning sensation. Corns and calluses can form between the toes and
on top of the middle joint due to pressure and friction from shoes. Unfortunately,
this is a progressive condition, so the longer it goes untreated, the
more severe the situation becomes and the harder it is to straighten the
toe without surgery. In the early stages, this condition is referred to
as flexible, while later stages are considered rigid. As you can imagine,
the earlier you seek treatment the better!
Acting quickly is essential to avoiding a surgical procedure, so as soon
as you notice any symptoms, you should start treatment immediately. Anti-inflammatory
medications, and injection therapy can help, but there are other approaches
you may want to try first. Stretches, padding, and splints that hold toes
in proper position can all help in the early stages. You can benefit from
orthotic inserts, too, as they can redistribute pressure away from the area. Perhaps the
best thing you can do, however, is switch to better fitting shoes!
If hammertoes run in your family, stop the tradition by using these steps
as preventative measures rather than waiting until they become treatment options.
Surgery for Severe Situations
If you wait too long, your toe will be unable to straighten, become hard
and even more painful. Surgery will be the only way to restore movement
and relieve symptoms. Procedures usually involve removing deformed or
injured bone, realigning tendons, and/or repositioning the toe into proper
alignment. Recovery and healing will depend on the severity of the condition
as well as the number of toes involved, among other factors.
All the Tools for Treatment
At Houston Foot Specialists, we have over 25 years of experience treating
hammertoes – it’s one of our specialties! If you notice your
toe starting to curl and feel tight, don’t hesitate to call our
Houston, TX office at (713) 493-7372. We have all the tools it takes to
help your toe stay straight. In the meantime, make sure your shoes fit
and keep those toes moving and strong!