Hammertoe, a very common deformity of your forefoot, typically affects your second, third, and fourth toes. This condition progresses if left untreated.
If you have hammertoe, the middle joint in affected toes starts to bend downward abnormally, resulting in the tip of your toe turning downward, instead of pointing straight out. The shape of your toe starts to resemble that of the head of a hammer.
At Cortez Foot & Ankle Specialists, our team has handled a lot of cases of hammertoe. Let us break down the ins and outs of hammertoe treatment. We provide conservative and surgical intervention for hammertoes from our locations in Bradenton, University Park, and Ellenton, Florida.
When is surgery your best treatment option? Here’s what you need to know.
Why do hammertoes develop in the first place? Often, the problem starts with improperly fitting shoes. If the toe area of your shoes is too narrow for your feet, your toes end up getting squished into a bent position. High heels can also result in similar issues due to forcing your toes forward against the front of the shoe.
Your risk for developing hammertoes goes up if you have another underlying podiatry condition like inflammatory arthritis. Genetic factors can also put you at higher risk of hammertoes. And, bunions can cause hammertoes, due to the way they can push your big toe into your second toe, forcing your second toe to bend downward.
Uncomfortable hammertoe symptoms
Over time and without treatment, your foot muscles start to shorten, accommodating this bent and constricted position for your toes.
The first symptom you might notice is not being able to straighten your toe. Hammertoe can also become painful. You might experience discomfort on the top or base of the bent toe, or in the ball of the affected foot, especially when you move the toe.
Hammertoe often causes painful corns to develop due to the top of the bent toe rubbing repeatedly against your shoe. Calluses related to hammertoes can also contribute to your overall foot discomfort.
If you can get treatment at an early stage, there’s a better chance that non-surgical treatment options will work for you.
If you can still flex your toe, we may be able to treat the problem using:
- Splinting or taping to realign the toe
- Shoe padding to prevent irritation
- Corticosteroid injections or topical medications to reduce inflammation and relieve pain
- Exercises to stretch the muscles in the affected toe
- Custom orthotics to relieve pressure and restore muscle balance
It’s also essential that you switch to shoes with a larger toe box and low heels.
When you need surgery for hammertoe
Without early treatment, hammertoe typically progresses and gets worse. If the toe becomes rigid and fixed in its bent position, you may need surgery to relieve the permanent contracture. And, surgery may be needed if your hammertoe is causing significant pain.
You may need surgical tendon release, or the removal of some bone to flatten the position of your toe. The team at Cortez Foot & Ankle Specialists reviews your condition and recommends the right type of hammertoe surgery for you. We offer hammertoe surgery treatment from our Bradenton location.
For surgical and non-surgical hammertoe treatment, contact the team at Cortez Foot & Ankle specialist today. Schedule your initial consultation appointment by giving us a call to book.