Houston Foot and Ankle Care
DPM, FACFAS, FAENS
Podiatrist located in Houston, TX
Hammertoes Q & A
What causes hammertoes?
A hammertoe forms when the middle joint of your toe becomes dislocated or the muscles, tendons, and ligaments surrounding the joint no longer function to keep your toe straight. Sometimes, your muscles weaken or become dislocated after a foot injury, and sometimes. hammertoes are the result of wearing high-heel shoes or shoes that are too tight. It may also be a combination of both.
Genetics, diseases like arthritis or diabetes, age, and gender also contribute to the onset of hammertoes. Women are more likely to experience them than men, and the risk increases with age. Also, if your second toe is longer than your big toe, you have a higher risk of developing a hammertoe.
What are symptoms of hammertoes?
When you have a hammertoe, your second or third toe appears bent, as if you have a toe deformity. The hammertoe may overlap an adjacent toe because it isn’t able to stay straight on its own. This can be painful, especially when wearing certain shoes in which your toe rubs against the inside of the shoe.
Swelling, redness, or a burning sensation in the affected toe are common. Painful corns and calluses may form as a result of constant friction between overlapping toes or from your shoes. A hammertoe continues to get worse, if left untreated, leaving surgical correction as the only option to relieve the painful toe deformity.
When you don’t treat a hammertoe, you often end up with contracted digits, meaning your toes remain bent and stiff. In some cases, you may be able to manually straighten your toe, but if the toe is contracted and stiff, you won’t be able to straighten it out.
How are hammertoes treated?
Depending on how severe your hammertoe is, Dr. Maislos may first recommend nonsurgical treatment methods to relieve pain, such as:
- Wearing roomier shoes
- Foot orthotics to help relieve pain and pressure
- Toe exercises to strengthen or loosen the muscle
- Padding for corns and calluses
- Anti-inflammatory medications
- Splints to keep your toes in proper alignment
If conservative measures don’t relieve pain or correct the contracted digit of a hammertoe, Dr. Maislos may recommend surgery. Depending on the condition of your toes, he may perform surgery in the office under a local anesthetic. However, for more complicated procedures, hammertoe surgery may take place in an outpatient surgery center.
Don’t suffer indefinitely with a hammertoe and its painful side effects that prevent you from being as active as you’d like. Call the friendly team at Houston Foot and Ankle Care to schedule a consultation or make an appointment online today.