Do you have pain and discomfort in your small toes when wearing your favorite pair of shoes? You are not alone. According to research studies as many as 60 million Americans suffer from forefoot deformities such as hammertoes that can lead to degenerative changes in the foot if left untreated. Let’s look at ways to prevent and treat hammertoes.
A hammertoe is a bending deformity or contracture that affects one or both joints of the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and 5th toes. It is caused due to weakening of the toe muscles leading to imbalance and increased pressure on the tendons and joints of the toe. The condition is also associated with the formation of a callus or corn at the top of the toe.
Hammertoes could be caused by:
- Narrow, ill-fitting shoes with insufficient arch support. (Women who wear high-heel shoes are more susceptible to developing hammertoes.)
- Neuromuscular disease such as diabetes
- Genetic predisposition
- Poor blood supply to the toe
Hammertoes are flexible in the initial stages which is when they can be treated with
conservative measures. If left untreated, they slowly turn rigid causing a lot of pain.
Non-surgical options to treat hammertoes or prevent them from occurring include:
- Wearing shoes that are broader in the toe region and provide good arch support.
- Use of padding to prevent irritation of the corns or callus
- Reducing the size of the corn using a pumice stone or a file
- Oral medications or injections to reduce pain and inflammation
- Applications of straps or splints to realign the toe
- Use of foot orthotics to correct muscular imbalances
- Physical therapy exercises to strengthen toe muscles
Surgery is generally considered if the hammertoe is rigid or causing severe pain and an
open wound has developed. It is the best option to permanently fix a hammertoe and this
simple procedure properly realigns the bones to straighten out the toe.
Consult the orthopedic foot & ankle specialists at the NewportCare Medical Group for an
accurate evaluation and treatment recommendation for your foot condition.
NewportCare Medical Group is a comprehensive specialty group located in Newport Beach,
California specializing in advanced non-surgical and surgical treatments for a wide range of