A hammertoe occurs when one or both of the joints in a little toe have abnormal bending. Wearing shoes puts pressure on the bended toe which can result in deformities and difficulty walking.
Hammertoe is a contracture (bending) of one or both joints of the second, third, fourth, or fifth (little) toes. When wearing shoes, this abnormal bending can put pressure on the toe, causing problems to develop.
It is important to treat hammertoes as soon as symptoms arise. If left untreated, hammertoes may become unresponsive to nonsurgical treatment.
Common symptoms of hammertoe include:
- a toe that bends downward
- corns or calluses
- difficulty walking
- inability to flex your foot or wiggle your toes
- claw-like toes
Treatment of Hammertoe
The first step to treating hammertoe is avoiding further damage. A physician may recommend accommodative shoes which give toes more room. Patients should avoid tight, narrow shoes like high heels. At-home toe exercises may also be recommended to stretch and strengthen muscles.
Over-the-counter straps, cushions or non medicated corn pads can be used to relieve hammertoe symptoms.
Surgery will only be considered after nonsurgical efforts have been exhausted and were unsuccessful. Progressive hammertoes become more rigid and painful and may even result in open sores. There are a few surgical procedures available to correct a hammertoe.
In selecting the procedure or combination of procedures for your particular case, the foot and ankle specialist will take into consideration the extent of the deformity, the number of toes involved, age of patient, activity level and other key factors. The length of the recovery period will vary, depending on the procedure or procedures performed.
Recovery Following Hammertoe Treatment
Depending on the surgical procedures performed, recovery may take a few weeks and patients may be required to wear a medical shoe while the toe heals.