Hammertoe Q & A
What is hammertoe?
The muscles, ligaments, and tendons in your toes allow for your toes to function properly. They also hold your toes in place, keeping them straight. An abnormality to the structure of your toe can result in a deformity known as a hammertoe.
A hammertoe refers to an abnormal bend in the middle joint of a toe. This usually occurs in one of your middle three toes. Treatment for a hammertoe depends on its severity. It can generally be treated with conservative measures, but in some cases, you may need surgery to repair the structural damage.
What are common signs and symptoms of hammertoe?
The most obvious sign of hammertoe is the deformity. If you notice a bend in the middle joint of your toe, giving it a “V-shape,” you likely have a hammertoe.
Moving the toe will likely be painful, and calluses can form because the hammertoe may rub against the sides of neighboring toes.
What causes hammertoe?
These are three of the most likely causes of hammertoe:
Certain shoes, such as high heels, that are too tight and trap your toes in tightly can lead to the bending of a toe joint. This curled position can, over time, lead to a hammertoe.
An event, such as a sports injury, stubbing your toe, or breaking or jamming your toe can increase the likelihood of a hammertoe developing.
An imbalance of your toe muscles
A naturally occurring imbalance of your toe muscles, ligaments, or tendons can cause your toe structure to be unstable, leading to hammertoe.
Risk factors include older age, toe length, and certain diseases, such as arthritis and diabetes.
How is hammertoe treated?
Most cases of hammertoe can be treated with an adjustment to your footwear and custom orthotics to give you extra support. The combination of roomier, more comfortable shoes and the repositioning and realigning custom orthotics provide should relieve the pressure and pain. Over time, this can cure hammertoe.
Dr. Deacon may also recommend some toe stretches to help strengthen your toe. If conservative treatments don’t prove effective in treating your hammertoe, Dr. Deacon can perform surgery to release the tendon or remove a piece of bone that’s preventing your toe from lying flat.
If you notice a hammertoe, you should seek the help of Dr. Deacon right away, as it can be very painful. Call Milwaukee Advanced Foot & Ankle Clinic or schedule an appointment online today.