Do you have one or more toes that are permanently bent? Does it make walking painful? It could be a hammertoe: a common foot deformity among adults of all ages. Hammertoes develop with muscle imbalance, but treatment can relieve tension and help your foot feel better. Dr. Priya Samant and Dr. Roman Sibel specialize in conservative and surgical hammertoe treatment at Orthopedic Foot & Ankle Institute in Henderson, Nevada. Call the office or request an appointment online today.
A hammertoe is a toe that can’t straighten all the way, giving it a claw- or hammer-like shape. Hammertoes are most common on the second, third, or fourth toes, and a muscle imbalance in your foot usually causes them.
Your feet have more than 100 muscles, tendons, and ligaments. The soft tissues all work together to give motion to your feet and toes, but a biomechanical imbalance can cause some muscles to work harder than others.
When the muscles and tendons of your toe are imbalanced, it pulls your toe into a bent shape that’s difficult to straighten. Hammertoes start with a mild bend, but they worsen as muscle imbalance increases. Eventually, you may not be able to straighten your toe at all.
Anyone can get hammertoes. They’re most often caused by wearing tight or high-heeled shoes. A family history of hammertoe or chronic joint conditions, like arthritis, may also increase your risk.
A toe that won’t straighten or relax is the most obvious sign of a hammertoe. Other common symptoms include:
Hammertoe symptoms often get worse the longer the condition goes untreated. Your hammertoe continues losing flexibility over time. Eventually, a hammertoe can make walking difficult.
Dr. Samant and Dr. Sibel diagnose hammertoes with comprehensive physical exams. They evaluate your toe’s flexibility and take X-rays to see the extent of your condition.
If your hammertoe is mild to moderate, nonsurgical treatment can improve flexibility and muscle-tendon balance. The team may prescribe physical therapy exercises to build strength in your foot. Changing your footwear and using over-the-counter remedies like straps, cushions, or corn pads can also help relieve pain and prevent the condition from worsening.
More severe hammertoes may require surgery. Hammertoe surgery is usually an outpatient procedure that involves lengthening your toe’s tendons, fusing the joint, or a combination of the two.
Seeking treatment for your hammertoe can relieve pain and keep it from getting worse. Book an appointment at Orthopedic Foot & Ankle Institute online or over the phone today.