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Oh No! A Hammertoe!

  • Dr. Bruce Zappan
  • August 03, 2017

Hammertoe is an abnormality that can cause the joints of your middle toes to bend in the shape of a hammer. The big toe is not susceptible. The condition is caused by an imbalance between the muscles and tendons in the toes. Shoes that are too tight, such as high heels, can contribute to this bending. Injury to the toes, or arthritis in the joints can also be contributing factors. Hammertoe can be inherited, or created over time by structural changes. Untreated, hammertoes can be linked to a variety of other problems, so early intervention is advisable.

Hammertoe Symptoms

The telltale hammer shape is often accompanied by the following symptoms:

  • Burning, redness, tenderness to touch
  • Pain from rubbing on footwear
  • Bunions, corns and calluses are also frequently seen in patients with hammertoes
  • A cut on your toe from all the rubbing
  • Treatments for Hammertoes

    Conservative and non-surgical remedies may include:

  • Orthotic devices to isolate and cushion the toe and correct the imbalance between the tendon and muscle
  • Moleskin and other pads for corns and calluses to eliminate chafing
  • Roomy shoes with a wide toe box and low heels
  • Steroid injections may be recommended to reduce inflammation
  • Splinting or strapping can be used to realign bent toes
  • Ibuprofen or other NSAID for pain
  • Toe stretching and strengthening exercises such as picking up marbles with your toes, or writing out the alphabet

The best time to treat hammertoes is in the early stages when they still retain some flexibility. As they become more rigid and painful, it may be necessary to have your foot specialist surgically realign the tendons and reposition the toe. This surgery is performed on an outpatient basis.

For any problems you may be experiencing with your feet and ankles it is important to see a foot specialist to receive the correct care. Bruce B. Zappan, D.P.M., P.C., of Medical Arts Podiatry Associates in Philadelphia, is an expert in proper evaluation and recommendations for treatment. Please feel free to contact us with any questions or make an appointment with our office at 215-563-2560.