Hammer toe is a deformity where the toe is bent at the middle joint, giving it the appearance of a hammer.
It most often affects the second, third or fourth toe. Hammertoes cause pain both from keeping the toe in a bent position and from the discomfort of wearing shoes. Corns and calluses may form on the top of the toe joint or the tip of the toe due to the abnormal position and can eventually result in open sores.
Although the hammer-like appearance may be obvious, there are other conditions that have similar symptoms to hammertoe and correct diagnosis is necessary before treatment can begin. X-rays may also be ordered to help confirm the diagnosis.
There are several non-surgical avenues of treatment available for hammertoe. These include:
Medication: oral nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and/or cortisone injections may be part of the initial treatment to reduce pain and inflammation
Padding: if your hammertoe has progressed to the point where corns or calluses have already formed, the podiatrist may recommend pads to prevent additional irritation
Orthotics: custom designed inserts for shoes can help correct the muscle imbalance that is one of the primary causes of the deformity
Strapping or splinting: the foot doctor may put splints or straps on the affected toe to help realign and straighten the toe
Exercise: stretching and strengthening surrounding muscles can provide needed support to the bent toe
Hammertoe is a progressive disorder and will only get worse if not treated. Eventually, the toe will become frozen in the hammer position and surgery may then become the only option for correcting the deformity and avoiding disability. If you have signs of hammertoe, obtain a treatment for your toe condition before it becomes a major medical problem.
RIVERA FOOT & ANKLE: At Orlando H.Rivera DPM, our priority is to deliver quality care to informed patients in a comfortable and convenient setting. When you have problems with your feet, you need to turn to a podiatrist who listens and responds… an experienced doctor who knows the field and can effectively diagnose and treat your needs… a friendly physician who counsels you on the best ways to maintain and improve your health. Our physician(s) meet all these criteria. Plus, you benefit from a dedicated team of trained professionals who give you the individualized attention you deserve.
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