Hammertoe is a medical deformity that causes the second toe to bend downwards and the middle joint to curl upwards. Any toe can be affected but the condition usually affects the second and the third toe.
Hammertoe may be present from birth but it usually develops over time due to arthritis or wearing poorly fitting shoes like pointed and tight heels. However, in most cases, hammertoe is curable only if diagnosed and treated at an early stage.
Types of Hammertoes
There are two types of this condition:
- They are still moveable at the foot joint
- These are less serious as they can be diagnosed and treated during the initial stage.
- This is a more serious and advanced stage of the hammertoe
- The tendons of the toe become very tight, joints get misaligned and stiff
- They are seen in patients with severe arthritis or who have been ignoring the condition for long
- Surgery is the usual way to treat a rigid hammertoe.
If you are looking for an Irvine podiatrist to get your hammertoes problem treated at the early stage when it is at the flexible stage then visit Dr. Sima Soltani who is an experienced foot doctor for more than 20 years. She specializes in surgery-less treatments and hence, advises her patients with foot problems to get them treated at an early stage and avoid further complications.
While searching for a good podiatric clinic near Irvine, Newport Beach, Tustin, Mission Viejo and all areas around the Orange County, CA, Dr. Sima Soltani’s clinic is said to be the best one. Surgery is always the last resource in her clinic with your foot problem getting treated right away at a podiatrist in Irvine.
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Hammertoe is commonly caused due to wearing tight, narrow and short shoes. Tight shoes cause the toe to bend upwards with muscles and tendons getting tight and becoming shorter.
Common causes of a hammertoe are:
- Wearing improperly fitted shoes
- Stiff ligaments and tendons in the foot
- A traumatic toe injury
- Severe arthritis affecting the nerves and muscles
- Pressure due to bunions when the big toe points inwards towards the next toe
Hammertoes will cause you discomfort while walking and can cause pain when you try to move or stretch the affected toe around it. Symptoms are:
- The toe starts appearing like a hammer or a claw due to the bending
- Pain in the bent toe while wearing footwear that causes pressure
- Swelling and redness on the joint
- Blisters, Corns may form on the top of the toe, calluses at the foot sole when the shoe rubs against a hammertoe
- The toe joint becomes stiff and pains while walking
See a good Orange County podiatrist right away if you develop any of these symptoms. The podiatrist diagnoses a hammertoe with a physical exam. An X-ray may be needed if you had a bone, ligament, or muscle injury in the toe.
How to prevent hammertoes?
- Wear properly fitting supportive shoes
- Wear customized footwear or orthotics as advised by your podiatrist that would prevent or slow the development of hammertoes
- Avoid wearing too narrow or too short shoes
- If you are wearing heels, ensure they are not higher than two inches
- The shoe front should have good toe space of at least half an inch between the toes and the shoe tip
Treating mild Hammertoes
The options for treating hammertoes vary with the type and severity of each case, although identifying and diagnosing the deformity in its early stage is important to avoid surgery. Your podiatric physician recommends a treatment plan according to your condition.
Padding and tapping:
- The hammertoe is padded to minimize the pain allowing you to continue a normal life
- Tapping changes toe imbalance providing relief from stress and pain
Medication: Anti-inflammatory and injections to ease the pain
Orthotic tools: custom shoe inserts control foot function reducing symptoms and preventing deterioration
Complications if left untreated
If you leave your hammertoe condition untreated and the toe becomes stiff, the only option left is a hammertoe surgery. The surgery corrects the deformities of the second, third and fourth toe. The technique includes:
Tendon transfer: the tendons are forwarded from the underside of the toe to the top that straightens the toe
Joint resection: the bone is removed at the fixed joint and pins are placed temporarily for keeping the toe straight
Fusion: the ends of the bones are cut at the fixed joint and a wire of a pin is inserted to straighten the toe. The pin is removed after the fusion procedure is over.
New techniques include implanting a rod or screw permanently. A reliable and experienced podiatrist Irvine would choose the best treatment option depending on your level of deformity and particular case.
Usually, the hammertoe deformity goes away after treating the causes. However, leaving it untreated can cause deformity of the surrounding toes. Therefore, it is best to get it treated as soon as the diagnosis is confirmed.