Do you have a bent toe? Does putting on your shoes hurt the top of your toe, or do you have corns forming on the top of the toe joint? Is it painful and hard to move your toe joint, or is the joint red and swollen? If you can relate to any of these descriptions, you may have what is called a hammertoe. It is helpful to look at what hammertoes are, how they affect your life, and more importantly what hammertoe correction treatments are available.
What Are Hammertoes?
A hammertoe is a condition where the muscles and ligaments surrounding the toe joint are out of line, causing the middle joint of the toe to become stuck in a bent position. This position resembles a hammer, and is considered a deformity of the toe. There are two types of hammertoes: flexible and rigid. With flexible hammertoes, the condition is still early on and the toe can be moved at the joint. You are fortunate if your hammertoe is in this stage, since it is a milder form of hammertoe. With rigid hammertoes, the toe has become stiff at the joint and cannot be moved. Often surgery is recommended at this point.
How Do They Affect Your Life?
The most common complaint with hammertoes is rubbing and irritation on the top of the bent toe. You may have trouble getting your shoes on, or deal with a lot of pain when walking. Women in particular are more prone to experience pain from hammertoes, commonly due to more restrictive shoes. Additionally, corns and calluses may develop as the toe rubs against the shoes and cause further discomfort and pain. Hammertoes can be an even bigger problem in people with poor circulation or diabetes.
Treatment Options for Hammertoe Correction
Treatment options for hammertoe correction range from mild options to surgery, depending on the severity. They include:
- Bigger Shoes – Often the first method of treating flexible hammertoes is to change your shoes to a type of shoe that has more room around the toes. Particularly, high heels and shoes that get narrow at the front are not recommended.
- Exercises – Sometimes foot doctors will recommend toe exercises to move the toe joint. Like treatment with bigger shoes, this treatment will only work on flexible hammertoes.
- Surgery – Surgery is considered a last resort to correct hammertoes, and is generally the primary option for those suffering with rigid hammertoes.
Which treatment you are recommended will depend on your specific situation, particularly how severe your hammertoes are.
Treating the Underlying Cause
Another option is a minimally invasive procedure called HyProCure® where a titanium stent is placed into the naturally occurring space between the ankle and heel bone. This is done to correct foot misalignment, which can contribute to hammertoes.
If you have hammertoes and are tired of the pain and discomfort, you should get them looked at by a foot specialist. Getting them treated can go a long way in making your life easier.
If you’re in the New York area, schedule a free foot assessment with a podiatrist at Adler Footcare. We believe feet shouldn’t hurt and neither should their treatment.