If you have been noticing that one or more of your toes has taken on a bent shape at the joint, then you probably have a condition known as hammertoe. While this condition is not always painful in the beginning, a hammertoe can become more deformed over time. As it continues to bend and press harder against your footwear, you may develop painful corns on top of the bent part of the toes.
Hammertoe development is usually hereditary, but the condition can be exacerbated by arthritis, poorly fitting shoes, and flat feet. Trauma to the toe, such as by stubbing, or dropping a heavy object on it, can also contribute to this condition.
Hammertoe Diagnosis and Treatment
A comprehensive foot examination by your podiatrist will be done to check for the severity of the muscle contractions that may be causing the toe to bend abnormally. This exam will include imaging studies such as x-rays or MRI to more accurately determine the extent of the toe deformity.
Some of the treatments for hammertoes include the following:
- Custom orthotic inserts—can be used to address a variety of complications including helping to control the imbalance between the muscle and tendon that can cause the toe to bend abnormally.
- Splints—A splint can be worn to force the toes into the correct position.
- Insulating pads—Specially formed pads can be used on hammertoes and corns to help prevent rubbing and blister formation.
- Pain treatment—Ibuprofen or other NSAIDs may be taken orally or applied topically for pain and swelling abatement.
- Toe exercises—Toe stretching and flexibility exercises like towel scrunches will help strengthen muscles and limber up tendons.
If you are experiencing abnormally bent, painful and rigid toes, you may have a hammertoe problem requiring the help of your foot doctor. Dr. Scott Nelson of Foot and Ankle Medical Clinic in Garland, TX, is a board-certified and highly experienced podiatrist who has helped people suffering from all types of foot and ankle injuries and deformities. From bunions to diabetic foot problems, sports injuries and fungal nails, you can trust that Dr. Nelson and his staff are wholeheartedly devoted to your foot health. Please contact our office with any questions you may have or to schedule an appointment by calling 972-414-9800.