Hammertoe is an extremely common deformity that can affect the second, third and fourth toe. The condition, which is often the result of a tendon, ligament or muscle imbalance, can cause suffers to experience long-term pain and discomfort. Like many conditions of the foot, hammertoe normally gets worse the longer a person goes without treatment.
The podiatrists at Global Podiatry are experienced in diagnosing and treating many common foot pain conditions, including mild and severe cases of hammertoe. We can help you to find lasting relief from hammertoe with surgical and non-surgical treatments in our advanced podiatry clinics in Wheeling & Chicago IL.
Hammertoes are deformities that cause toes to bend and assume a claw-like shape. They usually occur in people whose toes are very long and out of proportion with the rest of the foot, resulting in shoes that don’t fit properly. In addition to ill-fitting shoes, an inherited foot shape can also contribute to hammer ties. Over time, the bent position of the toe causes the ligaments and tendons that support the toe to become stiff and shorten, pulling the toe into its downward position, so it becomes more difficult to correct.
Hammertoes can worsen over time without professional intervention and treatment. The flexibility of the toe will get progressively worse, potentially resulting in a permanent deformity. If hammertoes are not treated quickly, there’s a chance that they’ll be unresponsive to conservative treatments and surgery will become the only option to reduce pain and stiffness.
Most cases of hammertoe are the result of a neurological or structural change to a tendon or muscle in the foot. This change can cause imbalance, which progresses to instability and then a contraction which leads to the second, third or fourth toe bending into an abnormal position. Another common cause of hammertoe is incorrect footwear. Wearing high heels or extremely tight footwear can cause the toes to curl and, over time, remain in the curled position. Long toes that are forced into tight shoes can result in hammertoe. A trauma, such as stubbing or breaking a toe, can increase the risk of developing hammertoe later in life.
Age, gender and family history can determine how likely a person is to develop hammertoe. Hammertoe can be an inherited condition and is more common in women and older people. People who suffer from arthritis and diabetes have an increased risk of developing hammertoe, as well as many other foot deformities.
If you’re predisposed to developing hammertoe, then you can visit your local podiatry clinic in Chicago & Wheeling, IL to discuss the best practices for preventing the deformity and to learn how to improve your foot and toe health.
Because hammer toes are bent, they can cause considerable pain when wearing shoes. People who have hammer toes also frequently develop corns on the top of the toes where the bent portion rubs against shoes, causing painful friction that spurs the development of corns.
Further symptoms of hammertoe, include:
Hammer toes can be addressed non-surgically with the use of custom orthotics designed to support the toe in a natural position and to address the discrepancy in the ratio between the toe and arch lengths so shoes fit better and toe crowding and bending are avoided. Splints may also be worn at night to help stretch the toe and coax it into a more natural position. Stretching exercises can also help prevent the toe from becoming stiff.
Often, though, hammer toes require surgery to completely correct the position of the joint and to resolve painful symptoms. In this surgery, the toe can be shortened, and the ligaments can be re-positioned, so the toe maintains its natural shape, and the bend is eliminated. Tiny pins or screws are often used during surgery to help support the new position and shape of the toe. Hammer toe surgery is relatively straightforward, and patients can expect a quick recovery.
After surgery or in conjunction with conservative treatment, you can speak to your podiatrist about prevention techniques to help avoid reoccurrences of hammertoe. A change of footwear is one of the most effective ways to reduce the chances of hammertoe occurring. Wearing shoes that fit properly, have a low heel and have suitable toe room can greatly lower the risk of developing many foot problems.
If home remedies haven’t helped to relieve pain and discomfort caused by hammertoe or you want a lasting solution to regain better flexibility and mobility, contact Global Podiatry to help you. As soon as we confirm that you’re suffering from hammertoe, we’ll begin treatment straightaway to give you relief from the discomfort.