Many common foot problems have one easy solution – surgery. These foot problems include bunions, heel spurs, and hammertoes. You may already know the definition of the bunion and bone spur, but may be wondering what is a hammertoe? A hammertoe is a shortening deformity that occurs in one or both of the joints in the little toes. That is the second to the fifth fingers of the big toe. This kind of abnormal bending forces the toes to curl under the feet and causes much foot pain especially when one is wearing shoes.
Cause of Hammertoes
Your toe curls downwards instead of pointing straight forward due to external reasons. This might be present from birth, but in the typical case, it comes from wearing shoes that are too tight. The muscle-tendon imbalance causes bending of the toe. This degeneration of the tissue might occur due to a disease like arthritis. The mechanical and neurological changes increase over time.
Other reasons for this defect included trauma and tightened ligament or tendons in the foot. It might happen from the pressure due to a bunion that presses on the toes and bends it downward.
Risks Associated with this Defect
Some conditions increase the possibility of getting hammertoes. These include the following:
- Your family members have hammertoes.
- You have corns, bunions, and calluses that put pressure on the toes to bend.
- Wearing tight shoes.
Tip: Avoid wearing high-heel shoes. If you must wear them, do not use heels bigger than two inches in height.
When the fingers of the toes get pushed into a tight position, the possibility for deformation gets increased. Wearing tight shoes also increases other dangers such as developing ulcerations and blisters.
Signs of the Hammertoes
The most common complaint of this ailment is the pain while walking. On visual inspection, you see the toes have bent and curl downward. There might be corns and calluses buildup in the region of the toes. Open sores, inflammation, and redness may develop.
Treatment to Correct Hammertoes
The most common toes that get affected are the second and third toes. You can treat it with noninvasive methods but if you leave them untreated, they become rigid. In this case, surgery is the only solution.
Diagnosis before Surgery
A thorough inspection of the toes is imperative. The foot and ankle surgeon will inspect your leg through manipulation. If possible, they choose one of the non-surgical methods that include:
- Physical therapy: They give the patient treatment that can include new shoes to help reposition the toes.
- Pads: The protective pads for corns and calluses will help to give relief. Medicated pads are not recommended because they contain some acid that might have a bad effect.
- Medication: The surgeon may prescribe medication for the pain and swelling.
- Orthotic device: These devices help to correct the imbalance in the tendons and muscles.
The Surgical Option
Surgery becomes an option if there are open sores. Or, the pain becomes unbearable for the patient. You must consider surgery if the toe has become rigid. Your age, activity level, and the number of toes involved will become a determining factor for surgery.
After treating the cause of hammertoes, symptoms can disappear on their own. Individual toes may need additional deformity corrections even after surgery. It is always good to take treatment fast. And, go for follow-ups as the physical therapist recommends. Get treatment from a clinic with the latest equipment and facilities like Northwest Surgery Center that offer a minimally-invasive hammertoe correction option.