Named for its resemblance to a hammer, a hammertoe is a deformity of the toe where your second, third, or fourth toe bends abnormally at the middle joint. This curve can cause problems like calluses and corns, resulting in pain when you rest or walk. A flexible hammertoe can usually be treated through simple measures. However, left untreated, a hammertoe can become fixed and call for the team at Rocky Mountain Foot & Ankle Center to perform surgery. This is why it is crucial to see your podiatrist the moment you notice a hammertoe. They can provide the following effective treatments:
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A hammertoe in its initial stages is usually still flexible. When you visit your doctor at this stage, they might begin your treatment regimen with some footwear changes. They may recommend replacing all your narrow, tight, high-heeled shoes with roomier, low-heeled versions that are more comfortable. You will also need to wear shoes with a one-half-inch space between the tip and your longest toe. This extra space in the toe box can relieve the pain and pressure caused by a hammertoe.
Non-Medicated Pads and Shoe Inserts
In some instances, you may benefit from over-the-counter, non-medicated corn pads, cushions, or straps. These devices can help minimize pressure around your hammertoe and fix muscle imbalance. Alternatively, your podiatrist may customize orthotic devices or shoe inserts to help control your foot function. It is crucial that you do not try any of these treatments without your doctor’s go-ahead, especially if you have poor circulation, diabetes, or loss of feeling in your feet.
Your doctor may also guide you through some foot exercises designed to strengthen and stretch the muscles in your foot. Examples include gently stretching out your toes, picking marbles and other objects off the floor using your toes, and towel curls. In the latter, you use your toes to crumple a towel. This continuous extension, curling, and splaying of the toes can help relieve contracture.
If your hammertoe is causing acute or chronic pain, your doctor may give you cortisone shots or anti-inflammatory medication to address pain and swelling. However, it is important to note that this is a temporary remedy that does not address the hammertoe itself.
Hammer Toe Surgery
If your toe joint has progressed into inflexibility and other treatments are not helping, you may need to undergo surgery. Hammertoe surgery is a minimally-invasive outpatient procedure performed under local anesthetic. Multiple procedures are available, and your doctor will usually base their choice on the nature and severity of your hammertoe. The options include arthroplasty, arthrodesis, basal phalangectomy, and Weil osteotomy, which your doctor will elaborate on before the procedure.
Get Expert Hammertoe Treatment Today
A hammertoe can cause untold pain. And like many medical conditions, it only worsens the longer you wait to get treatment. This is why you should always set an appointment with your podiatrist the moment you notice symptoms of a hammertoe. Following an examination to determine the rigidity of the joint, your doctor will begin the best course of treatment for you. Whether it is surgery or a simple remedy like shoe inserts, you will finally get relief for your hammertoe pain.