Hammertoes, also known as clawed toes, crooked toes or mallet toes, are often caused by a muscle imbalance from an unnatural walk, or by genetic predisposition. The best means of hammertoe correction is through skilled surgical techniques.
Signs of hammertoes are a long second toe that is often crowded into a bent position, a stiff tendon that prohibits a toe from resting flat, or a bunion on the big toe that forces the second toe into a cramped position. The most common toe deformities are
hammertoes and bone spurs. A hammertoe is a condition in which the toe is bent; it can happen to any of your little toes. A bone spur can occur anywhere on the toes but most commonly affects the fourth and fifth toes.
What Causes Hammertoes?
These conditions develop from shoes that don’t fit properly or a muscle imbalance in your foot. If the toe is bent and held in one position long enough, the muscles tighten and cannot stretch out.
Some patients are born with the foot type that predisposes them to these problems. People with flat feet, high-arched feet, or really flexible feet are more prone to develop these problems. Over time, the mechanics of your foot and shoe gear increases the deformities. Women are more frequently affected, probably because of the types of shoes they wear and use of tight stockings.
Do I Need to Get Treatment?
Hammertoes and bone spurs do not always require treatment, however, these conditions commonly lead to other complications including:
Corns – Hammertoes and bone spurs can create corns on the toes and in severe cases redness, swelling, and even an open sore. They develop because the skin is being crushed and irritated in your shoe.
Even if your hammertoe or bone spur is not causing you any discomfort, we recommend having it looked at. With early treatment, these conditions can respond to conservative care, and you may be able to minimize later complications.
What Are My Treatment Options?
There are several forms of treatment available for hammertoes and bone spurs, as well as corns or foot pain associated with these conditions.
Shoes that have a soft, roomy toe box are a good place to begin conservative care. Cushions and various soft pads may provide relief from shoe pressure over the toes. Never use a “medicated” corn pad since these contain a strong acid which does not know the difference between the bad and good skin and can lead to a chemical burn or deep open sore which can become infected.
Stretching exercises may also be helpful in lengthening the excessively tight tendons.
Orthotics are custom shoe inserts that may reduce some of the symptoms and prevent worsening of the hammertoe deformity.
Surgery may be needed if conservative care does not provide relief. The goal of surgical correction is to restore normal alignment and function of the toe joint. The actual procedure depends on the type and extent of the deformity. Several surgical procedures are available; for less severe deformities the surgery will remove the bony prominence and restore normal alignment of the toe joint. This repositioning will help relieve the pain.
Which Treatment is Right for Me?
The best treatment depends entirely on your unique health history and the nature of your particular toe condition. Before receiving any treatment, the first step is to have an evaluation by one of our physicians. The doctor will then be in a position to make a recommendation.
How Do I Make an Appointment?
Making an appointment with us is quick and easy.