Hammertoe is term used to describe buckling or curling of any of the toes. They can cause pain from rubbing against a shoe, or from rubbing against the toes next to them. The pressure of this rubbing can lead to corns, which is a painful thickening of the skin. In severe cases the pressure can lead to ulcers (wounds), which can lead to infection or even hospitalization.
The causes of hammertoes can include biomechanical abnormalities, muscle imbalance, trauma, or familial tendencies. There are two types of hammertoes.
A flexible hammertoe can be pulled straight by pulling on the end of the toe with your fingers. These are typically seen in younger patients without a history of trauma to the toe. Rigid hammertoes cannot be straightened in the same manner. This type is more severe and is often seen after trauma or in older patients.
A diagnosis as to what type of hammertoe you may have is performed with a combination of history, physical examination of your feet, and x-ray evaluation of your feet.
The non-surgical treatment of hammertoes include the use of wider or deeper shoes to decrease pressure on the affected toes, removal of any corns with the use of protective padding to decrease pressure, or the use of a custom orthotic to change the biomechanical abnormalities causing the hammertoes.
Surgical treatment of hammertoes involves correcting the position of the toe and placing it in a straight position. This is done on an outpatient basis, usually without the need for casts or crutches, and patients can usually start to walk on the area on the day of surgery.
Drs. Notari and Subik are Board Certified Foot and Ankle Surgeons, Certified by The American Board of Podiatric Surgery.