What are hammertoes? What causes this condition? What can you do about it? Today, we will discuss all those things. Most patients with hammertoes wonder why their toes are starting to curl or why they are no longer straight. While there can be other causes, like trauma, genetics plays the biggest role in their development, causing toes to curl over an extended period of time.
As the toes curl more they start to rub on the top of your shoes, or the tip of your toes may rub against the end of your shoes. You might start to notice a callus or corn on the top or tip of the toe, or the toe may start to rub against the adjacent toes. As the corn builds up it starts to cause pain. Pain can also develop in the joint due to contracture of the toe. Early on this can be reduced, but over time the soft tissue starts to adapt and the contracture becomes rigid.
So what can you do if you have hammertoes?
Treatment for hammertoes in their early stages can include trimming the corn/callous by a podiatrist, padding (available over the counter) to cushion the hammertoe or even a toe crest pad that rests underneath your toes. As you step down it helps to straighten the toes and take pressure off the tip of the toes and metatarsals. You can also wear shoes with a larger toe box to help reduce rubbing and shoe irritation. In rare instances cortisone injections can be used to reduce inflammation.
As hammertoes progress and if they are indeed causing you pain or affecting your daily life, then surgical treatments are the best option to get you back to your activity level. This includes removing a small amount of bone in the toe and releasing soft tissue contractures. It often involves placing a pin or metal implant into the toe to help hold the position while the soft tissues and bone heal. Though surgery may sound daunting, most patients are excited to hear that they can typically walk the day of surgery in a special post-operative shoe.
If you are concerned about your toes starting to curl, come see us at Anderson Podiatry Center. We can help you better understand your treatment options, and start to feel like yourself again.