Hammertoe is a condition that mostly affects the middle 3 toes (second, third or fourth). The middle joint of the toe is affected and gradually bends. This type of deformity causes a lot of pain and even difficulty in walking. Some individuals may even experience corn or callus on top of the bent joint. The look of the bent toe resembles the look of a hammer, and hence the condition is named – Hammertoe.
Hammertoes are divided into two types – Flexible and Rigid. If you have a flexible hammertoe, you might still have some control over the movement of your toe. However, if you are suffering from rigid hammertoe, the tendons in your toes will press against the joint and cause misalignment. Mostly, in the case of a rigid hammertoe, surgery is advised.
Nevertheless, irrespective of what type of hammertoe you have, it is best to consult either your general physician or a podiatrist at the earliest. Also, as soon as your doctor will recognize the symptoms of hammertoe, he/she might send you to a podiatrist for a detailed diagnosis. Next, your podiatrist will recommend suitable measures to deal with the condition.
Before recommending surgery podiatrists recommend some conservative measures like switching to comfortable shoes and using pads or splints.
Nevertheless, depending on the severity of your hammer toe pain, your podiatrist might suggest surgical options. Podiatrist in Irvine has over 20 years of experience working with several hammertoe patients. They know what treatment can work best for you. Also, they accept most insurance plans. So, if you are looking for a podiatry clinic near Orange county, consider making an appointment with them.
Symptoms and diagnosis
The first and most obvious symptom of hammertoe is a bent toe. You will lose control over the movement of your toe or simply find it difficult to straighten it.
Other symptoms include:
- Experiencing pain in the affected toe while walking or wearing shoes.
- Development of corn or a callus on the bent joint.
- Difficulty in walking.
While diagnosing, the podiatrist will check if the toe can be straightened or has completely gone rigid. If they suspect hammer toe, they might ask you to get an X-ray done to confirm the case. In addition, if you are suffering from other health conditions like diabetes, the doctor might run a few tests to check if that is affecting your nerves and muscles.
Causes of hammertoe
Shoes that are very tight around your toes, or have high heels can affect your toes and bend them. If your toes remain in this tight position for a long time, the muscles that allow your toes to straighten and move becomes tight and are gradually not able to work. With time, they completely lose their ability to straighten even if you start wearing spacious and comfortable shoes.
Your foot posture can also lead to hammertoe condition. It is observed that hammer toes are more common in people who have bunions or flat feet. Also, if you have longer toes, there are chances you might experience hammertoe sometime in life.
A study conducted in 2013 examined 2446 patients with hammertoe. It was observed that many of these individuals have relatives with the same condition. However, the results were unclear because no further research was conducted.
Age and Gender
It is observed that hammertoe is more common in older adults, especially women. This could be because women tend to wear footwear with high heels and even tighter shoes from time to time. This puts a lot of pressure on their toes and eventually, the condition is likely to develop.
Hammertoe is never exactly a result of any injury. However, if you have suffered any physical trauma to your foot or ankle, it might contribute to the development of the condition.
Other health conditions
Many different health conditions can increase your risk of developing hammertoe in the future. Some of these health conditions are:
- Neuromuscular conditions
- Muscle imbalances
- Inflammation in joints
Why consult a podiatrist?
Only a podiatrist can confirm your condition. Besides, they have extensive knowledge of the condition and hence can suggest appropriate treatment.
Some procedures recommended by podiatrists for hammertoes include:
- drugs to reduce inflammation, pain, and swelling
- Cortisone injections for relieving acute pain
- Wearing custom-made inserts to reduce pain
- Using over-the-counter available metatarsal pads correctly
- Exercises that help in restoring muscle balance
- If the condition is in the early stage, splinting the toe may help.
Lastly, there are several surgical procedures that only your podiatrist can recommend and perform. So, don’t suffer. Many procedures and treatment options can help.