What Are Hammertoes 

A foot deformity where the toe or toes contract at the middle joint is called hammertoe. This painful condition is caused when there is an imbalance in the tendon, ligament, or muscle. Mallet toe is the when the affected joint is the one closest to the toenail. This condition occurs most often in the middle toes (second, third and fourth). Other podiatry problems can contribute to the development of hammertoes, including: Bunions, Trauma, Diabetes, and arthritis. Other contributing facts include heredity and wearing ill-fitting shoes. You are more likely to develop hammertoes as you age and women have a high risk factor for development.

During the early stages of development, Hammertoes are still flexible, but the toe or toes become rigid as the condition progresses. Corns caused by friction can develop on the top and sides of the affected toe, and calluses can form on the ball of the foot and bottom of the toe. Wearing shoes may cause irritation to the joint, corns, calluses, and make physical activity and walking very painful. In some cases, the pressure from the shoe can cause dislocation of the joint. In general, simply wearing shoes and walking can irritate the joint, corns and calluses.

How Are Hammertoes Treated

Your Salem Foot Care podiatrists will thoroughly examine the affected toes to diagnose hammertoe. A non-surgical course of treatment will be recommended unless your symptoms are severe.

Non-surgical treatment options can include:
  • Anti-inflammatory and/or pain medications
  • Custom Orthotic Inserts
  • Corns and calluses by be trimmed by the doctor. If you try to do this yourself, you may cut yourself and increase the risk of infection. 
  • The doctor may use Corticosteroid injections  to reduce inflammation and ease pain.
  • Straps or splints may be used realigned the bent toe or toes.
  • Specialty pads or cushions may be used to prevent irritation and friction.
  • Specialty or other shoe recommendations. Tight fitting shoes, pointy-toed shoes and high heels can contribute to the development of hammertoes
Hammertoes do not go away on their own and when left untreated for too long, non-surgical treatments become ineffective.

What To Expect If Surgery Is Needed

Surgery to correct the deformity and relieve pain and discomfort is needed in severe cases where hammertoes have become rigid. Your foot surgeon will discuss the available options and recommend a plan tailored to your diagnosis. Age, physical activity level, the number of affected toes, the severity of the deformity will all be taken into consideration when recommending a surgical treatment.

Common surgical procedures to treat hammertoes include:

  • The most common hammertoe surgical procedure is arthroplasty, where a small section of bone is removed from the affective joint or joints. 
  • A small joint of the toe may be fused to straighten it when rigidity is severe or multiple joints are involved. A pin or device will be utilized as part of this procedure to hold the toe in the correct position during healing.
  • Other hammertoe surgical procedures include joint relocation, tendon transfers and the removal of wedges of skin. If you have other foot deformities such as bunions, your foot surgeon will generally correct everything at the same time. 
  • Having one or multiple procedures performed will impact the length of your recovery time.

Hammertoes will not correct themselves, so schedule an examination with Salem Foot Care for a correct diagnosis and treatment plan. Call us at 336-667-2015 to schedule an appointment today.

Salem Foot Care

1505 River Street
Wilkesboro, NC 28697

Phone: 336-667-2015
Fax: 336-667-3247
Billing: 336-766-8985