Hammertoe – Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment
What is a Hammertoe?
Hammertoe is the term used to describe an abnormal contraction or “buckling” of the toes due to partial or complete dislocation of one of the joints of the toe or the joint where the toe joins with the rest of the foot.
The toe buckling causes the toes to rub on your shoes and results in thicker skin (corns) developing to protect the toes. The corns are meant to reduce skin irritation on the abnormal bone shape but the skin, if left untreated, will place added pain and pressure on your toes. If the area is left untreated it can worsen and become infected.
Hammertoe occurs if the deformation occurs where the toe joint meets the foot. If the deformity occurs in toe joint closer to the nail, it is called a mallet toe.
Is Hammertoe Painful?
Hammertoe may not be painful; pain is usually present when the pressure of the shoes irritates the toes. Types of pressure pain include: redness, swelling, sharpness, burning, and cramping. Standing for long periods of time on the dislocated joints can cause pain associated with arthritis.
How to Treat Hammertoes
Wear comfortable, low-heeled walking shoes that fit you well. Make sure the shoes do not place any pressure on the crooked toes. Wear socks or stockings that have space for your toes; if stockings are too tight they cause the toes to contract, making your condition worse. Avoid tight shoes and high heels at all times; this type of footwear will pull the toes into contracted positions.
What Will a Foot Specialist or Chiropodist do for Hammertoes?
A foot care specialist will examine your feet and identify what type of hammertoe you have. They can offer advice on proper footwear, and corn trimming and padding. If the corns have become infected they can prescribe antibiotics to remedy the toes.
Custom made orthotics may also be suggested to help minimize the effects of a flat or high arched foot. Orthotics will not cure corns or hammertoe, but can slow down or stop the process.
Sometimes surgical treatment is used if other treatments are unsuccessful. The toe joints are flexible in the early stages, and a minor procedure, such as cutting or lengthening the tendons to straighten the toe can be performed.
If your toes have started to change shape or direction it’s best that you seek treatment from a foot specialist as soon as possible. Visit the Foot and Health Clinic and have our Registered Chiropodist treat your hammertoe.
We’re located at 728 Burloak Dr. Burlington, just outside of Oakville. Book an appointment online or call us at 905-632-1414.