Although most patients can recognize a hammertoe, we at Benenati Foot & Ankle Care Center find that many don’t know much more about them beyond their characteristic appearance. Hammertoe can be an extremely debilitating condition and that’s why we want to give our patients some important facts about this condition and what to do about it.
- Hammertoes are a progressive condition. This means that they will only get worse over time, not better, if left untreated. Typically, the hammertoe deformity affects one or both joints of the second, third, fourth or fifth toe. It starts out with the toe being still flexible and able to be repositioned into correct alignment. Eventually, however, the toe will become rigid in the abnormally bent position.
- Hammertoes can be genetic but there are other factors too. The primary cause of a hammertoe is a muscle/tendon imbalance which is the result of structural or neurological changes in the foot which can occur as you age. This tendency can be inherited. Other conditions that can lead to a hammertoe are wearing shoes that are too tight and short for your toes or an earlier trauma to the toe.
- There are a variety of treatments available for hammertoes. When a hammertoe is still flexible and in the early stages of development, our podiatrists Dr. Anthony Benenati, Dr. Neil Shaw or Dr. Adam Thompson have a number of conservative treatment options available. Once the toe becomes rigid, however, surgery is usually the only option for relief.
- Hammertoes should not be ignored. Too many patients make the mistake of thinking their condition is obvious and so they don’t need to see the foot doctor to have it diagnosed. In addition to the outward appearance of the toe, however, the foot doctor will take x-rays to get a better idea of how severe the deformity is. These images can also be helpful in monitoring the progression of the disease. Allowing a hammertoe to become rigid will make it very painful and hard to walk. Secondary foot issues will also develop, such as corns and calluses because of the difficulty in wearing shoes with the deformity. If you even suspect that one or more of your toes is beginning to bend under, make an appointment at our Macomb (586) 416-3668, St. Clair Shores (586) 779-6140 or Warren (586) 756-3338 office to get it evaluated as soon as possible.