At Texas Foot Specialists, by the time we see some patients who have the condition of hammertoe—a deformity in the second third or fourth toe that results in the toe being bent downward in the shape of a hammer—the toe has become completely rigid and surgery is the only treatment option available. This does not have to be the case, however. Although definitely a progressive condition, if caught in its early stage, hammertoe can be treated in other ways that will bring pain relief and decrease disability.
Although visually hammertoes may be obvious, our podiatrists Dr. Gregory Mangum and Dr. Bruce Miller will want to conduct a complete examination of your feet and toes. The foot doctor will most likely manipulate your foot and study the contracture of the toes. X-rays may be ordered so the podiatrist can assess how far your hammertoe has progressed. The foot doctor will also want to get a medical history. The most common cause of hammertoe is a muscle/tendon imbalance which can be inherited or can occur over time as a result of a neurological or structural deviation in the foot.
Patients with hammertoe may have developed corns or calluses on their toes where they rub up against shoes. Sometimes open sores will form. These will have to be treated along with the hammertoe. The podiatrist will recommend pads to protect these sensitive spots from additional irritation. Non-surgical options for hammertoe treatment include:
- Modifying shoe choices: shoes need to have soft, roomy toe boxes to accommodate the affected toe. High heels should be avoided as these force the foot forward and can put pressure on the hammertoe.
- Splints or straps to reposition the toe.
- Exercises to strengthen the muscles and stretch the toe.
- Orthotic devices aimed at correcting the muscle/tendon imbalance.
The foot doctor can also prescribe non steroid anti-inflammatory medications or corticosteroid shots to relieve pain and inflammation.
If you notice the beginning of a hammertoe forming, don’t delay! Make an appointment today at our Houston (713-664-6677), Pasadena (281-991-0600) or Sugar Land (281-242-4448) office.