Hammertoe is a foot condition that affects many people. A deformity of the second, third or fourth toes, hammertoe occurs when the toe bends at the middle joint, resembling the shape of a hammer. If left untreated, hammertoe can become inflexible and painful, often requiring surgery. This condition is commonly seen in women who wear high heels or shoes that do not fit properly.
Symptoms of hammertoe include the development of corns or calluses on the top of the middle joint or tip of the toe, as well as pain and discomfort in the toes and feet. It may also be difficult to find comfortable shoes that do not cause pain or discomfort. In some cases, hammertoe can cause difficulty in walking or standing for long periods.
The causes of hammertoe can include wearing shoes that do not fit properly, particularly those with high heels or tight-fitting shoes. Muscle imbalance or abnormal foot function can also lead to hammertoe. An injury or medical condition such as arthritis can also cause the toes to bend unnaturally.
Treatment for hammertoe is typically non-surgical and can involve wearing shoes with soft, roomy toe boxes that allow the toes to move freely. Toe exercises are another way to stretch and strengthen the muscles of the toes. Commercially available straps, cushions, or nonmedicated corn pads may also provide relief from symptoms.
In cases where hammertoe is severe or persistent, surgery may be necessary to correct the deformity. Hammertoe surgery is typically performed on an outpatient basis in a doctor’s office or surgery center. It involves rebalancing the tendons around the toe to prevent it from curling, creating up to four small incisions. Patients can usually walk immediately after the procedure, wearing a special surgical shoe. Minimal pain medication is typically required following the surgery.
After the surgery, patients should keep their foot elevated and apply ice for the first week to prevent excessive swelling and promote healing. It is also essential to keep the dressing clean and dry to avoid infection. Two weeks after the operation, the sutures are removed, and the patient can replace the surgical shoe with a wide athletic shoe to gradually increase their physical activity.
If you are experiencing the symptoms of hammertoe, it is essential to seek medical attention from a podiatrist, such as Dr Gilbert Huang DPM. Dr Huang has extensive experience in treating foot conditions and can provide expert guidance on the best course of treatment for your specific needs. With proper care and attention, hammertoe can be treated, and you can once again enjoy pain-free, comfortable feet.