Hammertoes are a contracture of the toes as a result of a muscle imbalance between tendons on the top and bottom of the toes. They can be flexible or rigid. When rigid, they are not able to bend or straighten manually. The toes may develop corns on the top due to the rubbing of the shoe. Calluses may form on the ball of the foot due to pressure of the bone against the ground. Hammertoes tend to worsen with time and flexible deformities may become rigid.
Preventative treatment of hammertoes is to treat the cause of the deformity. A functional orthotic insert can be prescribed to treat abnormal foot functioning that can cause hammertoes. The inserts slow down or halt this gradual change in the foot. Often when orthotics are used for flexible hammertoes, the toes will straighten out themselves over time.
Symptomatic treatment of hammertoes consists of open toed shoes of hammertoe pads. Over the counter corn and callus removers contain a mild acidic that burns the corn or callus off. Never use these medications between the toes. People with diabetes or poor circulation should never use these products.
Curative treatment of hammertoes varies depending on severity. When the hammertoe is flexible, a simple tendon release with the foot being numb works very well. The recovery time is quick due to the toe requiring only a stitch and a band-aid. This can usually be done in the podiatrist’s office.
If you suspect having hammertoe deformity, please call our office to make an appointment. Our professional podiatrists can assess how your feet are functioning, make an appropriate diagnosis and discuss treatment options.
Wendy Taggart PMAC & Insurance Specialist