All four of your smaller toes are susceptible to a condition called hammertoe. The big toe is the only one not potentially affected. Hammertoe is a progressive deformity that will only worsen the longer it goes untreated and the toe can become permanently bent in the shape of a hammer or mallet, often causing additional problems.
The causes of the hammertoe deformity
A physical imbalance between the muscle and the tendon in the toe is usually the cause of hammertoe. While the condition can be inherited, it can also be a result of long-term structural changes. It is also possible that breaking your toe can cause a similar looking deformity, so treat any abnormal looking toe right away. Hammertoes respond best when they are in the early stages, because as they become more pronounced and rigid, they also become much more difficult to treat, and may require surgical realignment.
Some of the other annoying symptoms of hammertoe include:
- Swelling, burning, and redness
- Pain from wearing shoes
- Bunions are often seen in patients who have hammertoes
- Corns and calluses can develop either on top of the toe or the ball of the foot.
- Open cuts on the affected toe caused by the rubbing of the toe on the inside of the shoe
How to treat hammertoes
Some of the treatments for hammertoe include:
- Padding and orthotic inserts may be utilized to isolate the hammertoe and prevent rubbing
- Steroid injections
- Splinting, taping and strapping
When a hammertoe has developed for a while and has become too rigid and painful for conservative treatments to have much effect, surgery may be discussed with your podiatrist as a viable option. Repositioning the toe by correcting the imbalance between the muscle and the tendon can often be done on an outpatient basis. At Your Next Step, our expert podiatrists, Dr. Eric Ricefield, Dr. Mark Yagodich and Dr. Aliza V. Eisen, help diagnose and treat a variety of foot and ankle problems, including sports injuries, joint pain, toe deformities, nail fungus, chronic tendon pain, and skin problems. They provide high-quality foot and ankle care to patients in the greater Philadelphia area at our offices conveniently located in Ardmore, Paoli, and Downingtown, PA. Please contact us for more information or to schedule an appointment.