The condition known as hammertoe is an abnormality that can cause the joints of your middle toes to bend in the shape of a hammer, hence the name. The big toe is the only one not susceptible to this. This condition is caused by an imbalance between the muscles and tendons in the toes and may be exacerbated by tight-fitting shoes, high heels, and genetics. Arthritis in the joints can also be a contributing factor. Untreated, hammertoes can be linked to a variety of other foot problems including corns which can appear on the top of a hammertoe.
Symptoms of hammertoes
The bending into a hammer shape is often accompanied by the following symptoms:
- Burning, redness, and tenderness
- Pain from rubbing on the insides of your footwear
- Bunions, corns and calluses are also frequently seen in patients with hammertoes and each contributes to the other
Treatments for hammertoes
Conservative and non-invasive treatments may include:
- Orthotic inserts to cushion the toe and correct the imbalance between the tendons, ligaments, and muscles.
- Moleskin pads for corns and calluses to eliminate chafing and inflammation
- Wear shoes with a wide toe box and low heels to take the pressure off the toe
- Steroid injections to reduce inflammation
- Splinting or strapping to realign bent toes
- Ibuprofen for pain
- Stretching and strengthening exercises such as picking up marbles, or writing out the alphabet with your toes
In the early stages when they still retain some flexibility, hammertoes are more treatable. As they become stiffer and more painful, it may be necessary to have your foot doctor surgically realign the tendons and move the toe into the correct position. At Fit Feet for Life, our team of board-certified podiatrists has access to advanced technologies and years of experience to help diagnose and treat a variety of foot and ankle problems, including heel pain, sports injuries, toe deformities, nail fungus, and plantar warts. Bonnie Sanchez, DPM, and Gregory Cook, DPM, provide high-quality foot and ankle care to patients in the Tampa/St. Petersburg area at our five offices conveniently located in Sun City Center, Clearwater, St. Petersburg, and our two Tampa locations. Please contact us for more information or to schedule an appointment.