Although the characteristic bend in the toe makes Hammertoe obvious to diagnose, its causes and treatment are not as apparent. Hammertoe is a progressive deformity that requires medical attention. At Edmond/Norman Foot & Ankle, we treat many cases of Hammertoe for Oklahoma City patients each year and it is always easier when diagnosed in its early stages. At that point the toe is still flexible enough to move into correct position. Left untreated, Hammertoes will become rigid and unbendable. This will lead to painful corns and calluses developing on the toe or ball of the foot, difficulty wearing shoes, and ultimately walking will become quite painful.
What Causes Hammertoe?
Most often, hammertoe is the result of a muscle/tendon imbalance that develops due to structural changes in the foot occurring over time. This tendency can be genetic. Hammertoe can also develop if you have one toe that is longer than the others and it is continually forced into a cramped position by your shoes. In general, wearing shoes with narrow toe boxes that constantly squeeze the toes can greatly aggravate a Hammertoe. Once in a while, Hammertoe happens because of an earlier trauma to the toe.
Diagnosis and Treatment
Hammertoe is visually apparent but our board certified foot and ankle surgeon, Dr. A. Bil Buksh will still need to obtain a complete history of your symptoms and examine your foot. The foot doctor may also order digital x-rays (which can be done in either our Edmond or Norman office) to assess the degree of the deformity. Although all Hammertoes are progressive, each case is different and the podiatrist will base your treatment plan on your individual diagnosis.
Treatment options include:
- Medications: Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, such as ibuprofen may be prescribed and/or corticosteroid injections to help relieve pain and inflammation
- Padding: Pads may be put over corns or calluses to prevent additional rubbing and irritation to them
- Orthotics: A custom orthotic device placed in your shoe can help control the muscle/tendon imbalance
- Splinting: The foot doctor may apply straps or splints to reposition the toe
- Surgery: If the Hammertoe has already progressed to the more rigid stage and is not responsive to the above treatments, or if open sores have developed, a surgical procedure to correct the Hammertoe may be needed.