Posts for tag: Hammertoes
A hammertoe is a common foot deformity that affects the middle joint of the smaller toes. As a result, this causes the toes to bend downward. Since this bend causes the joint to stick out this can put more pressure on the affected joints when wearing shoes, which can also make the deformity worse over time. As with most foot deformities a hammertoe will start out minor and continue to progress over time if left untreated.
During the earlier stages you may not notice much pain and discomfort. In fact the only way you may be able to tell that you have a hammertoe is by examining the foot and noticing that the small toes bend downward like a claw. Of course, at this stage the deformed joint is still flexible enough to be straightened out.
However, if the deformity progresses this can cause the joint to become rigid, which won’t respond effectively to simple conservative treatments. As you might imagine, the sooner you see a podiatrist to treat your hammertoe the better. Early intervention is key, as a hammertoe will not get better without the proper care.
Hammertoes are often the result of an imbalance in the muscle or tendon of the foot. Over time, this leads to structural changes in the foot. Genetics may also play a role in whether your feet are at risk for this deformity. A hammertoe can also be made worse by wearing shoes that are too tight and put too much pressure on the toes.
Along with the structural changes that occur with hammertoes it’s also common to experience redness, inflammation or the development of a corn or callus on the toe. If you are noticing symptoms of a hammertoe see your podiatrist for an evaluation. A simple physical exam is usually all that’s needed to diagnose a hammertoe; however, sometimes an x-ray will be performed in order to determine the extent of the deformity.
If you are dealing with a flexible hammertoe, more often than not simple nonsurgical treatment options are all that’s needed. Following simple treatment options and care can prevent the hammertoes from becoming rigid or painful. Some nonsurgical treatment options include:
- Wearing the appropriate footwear. This means wearing shoes that aren’t pointy or have high heels, which can put more pressure on the toes.
- Placing custom orthotics into your shoes, which can ease discomfort and prevent pain resulting in a muscular imbalance.
- Taking over-the-counter pain relievers such as ibuprofen, which can reduce both pain and inflammation.
- Splinting the toe or toes to keep them straight, which can also reduce stiffness, inflammation and pain.
- Applying protective non-medicated padding over the top of the toe to prevent a corn or callus from developing.
If your hammertoe is painful or rigid then you may need to discuss whether surgery is the best option for alleviating your symptom and correcting the deformity. If you are dealing with a hammertoe turn to a foot specialist for help.
Has walking become painful due to a hammertoe? Prompt treatment of this common foot condition will relieve your pain and prevent permanent changes to your toe. Dr. Humaira Syed treats hammertoes and other foot and ankle conditions in her Wayne, Clifton, and Fort Lee, NJ, office.
What are hammertoes?
Hammertoes occur when the first or second joint of your toe bends at a right angle. The condition typically affects the second through fifth toes and is more likely to occur in women. Hammertoes are flexible initially but may become rigid if you don't receive treatment. Once the joint becomes rigid, surgery is the only effective treatment option.
What causes hammertoes?
An imbalance in the muscles and tendons of the foot is the most common cause of hammertoe. Wearing tight or ill-fitting shoes that put pressure on your toes can increase your risk your risk of developing hammertoe. If you ignore the discomfort and continue to wear tight shoes, the tendon in your toe may shorten permanently. You may be more likely to develop hammertoe if you have arthritis in your toe, suffered a toe injury, or if your second toe is longer than your big toe.
What symptoms will I experience if I have a hammertoe?
In addition to a change in the appearance of your toe, you'll probably notice that your toe hurts when you walk or wear shoes. In some cases, the pain can extend to the ball of your foot. Swelling, redness, and a burning sensation may also occur. Corns and calluses often form on the top of the toes, between the toes or on the bottom of the foot due to pressure from footwear.
What can I do to straighten my toe?
It may be possible to straighten a flexible hammertoe by doing a few exercises at home, such as picking up marbles with your toe. Exercises won't be effective if you continue to wear shoes that rub or press against your hammertoe. Choose shoes that offer ample room in the toe box.
When should I see a Wayne, Clifton, or Fort Lee podiatrist?
It's a good idea to schedule an appointment if your flexible hammertoe isn't getting any better after home treatment or your toe has become rigid. Cortisone injections and anti-inflammatory medications can be used to decrease pain, while orthotics and padding and taping your toe may be used to address foot imbalances. If your toe is rigid, surgery will be needed to straighten your toe.
Ease your hammertoe pain with a visit to the foot doctor. Call Dr. Syed at (973) 692-1111 to schedule an appointment in her Wayne, Clifton, or Fort Lee, NJ, office.