A condition that we often see at Texas Foot Specialists is hammertoe. Named because of its appearance, the tell tale sign of this deformity is a bend in the toe joint (most often the second, third or fourth toe) causing it to resemble a hammer.
What Causes Hammertoe?
An imbalance between the muscle and the tendon in the toe is the most common reason a hammertoe develops. The muscle/tendon imbalance can occur due to neurological or structural changes in the foot. Other possible causes include:
- A genetic tendency
- A faulty toe structure, such as one toe being longer than the others and constantly forced into a bent position when wearing shoes
- Improperly fitting shoes
Diagnosis and Treatment
Although the appearance of a hammertoe makes it fairly obvious to observe visually, our podiatrists, Dr. Gregory Magnum and Dr. Bruce Miller, will want to conduct a complete exam of your foot which may include x-rays to assess the degree of deformity and get a more complete picture of what is happening inside your toe. Your medical history will also be important. Hammertoes are a progressive condition and will only get worse as time goes on. In addition to the pain caused by the bent toe, corns and calluses may develop on top of the toe as a result of constantly rubbing on your shoes.
A number of non-invasive treatments for hammertoe are available, including: modifications to your shoes, exercises to strengthen and stretch your toe muscles and strapping/splinting your toe to correct its position.
These treatments are most effective when the hammertoe is in its early stages and still relatively flexible. Once the condition progresses to the point where the toe is rigidly stuck in the bent position, surgical correction may be the only option. If you have noticed the onset of a hammertoe, contact our Houston (713-664-6677), Sugar Land (281-242-4448) or Pasadena (281-991-0600) office for an appointment as soon as possible.