There are a variety of conditions we see on a daily basis, which can cause foot pain. However, hammertoes are a common problem we see at our office. Basically, it is a condition that is a contracture, or a flexion deformity of the toes. Usually, it happens in the second, third or fourth toes of the foot. What happens is that the toe, or toes, curls up because of a bend in the middle joint of the toe. There are a few reasons this condition happens and many times because of issues with footwear. If you wear shoes that are too tight, then your toes will not be able to stick straight out, but they are pushed up against the front of your shoe. This leads to the bending of your toe, or toes, and a hammer-like or claw-like appearance. And unfortunately, even when the toes are not confined to a shoe, the toe muscles will not be able to straighten out over time.
CAUSES FOR HAMMERTOES INCLUDE:
- A musculo-skeletal tendon imbalance
- Wearing shoes that are too tight
- Crowding of toes in shoes, such as pointed shoes or high heels
- It can also be an inherited condition
- Injury to the toes
- Diseases that affect nerves and muscles, such as arthritis or strokes
SYMPTOMS FOR HAMMERTOES INCLUDE:
- Hammer or claw-like appearance of toes, causing lack of flexibility in the toe muscles
- Redness or swelling at the affected toe area
- Pain while wearing many different types of shoe gear, and pain in the toes
- Corns or calluses from the affected toes rubbing against the shoe
PREVENTION OF HAMMERTOES INCLUDES:
- Buying and wearing shoes that fit properly, with enough toe space, cushioned insoles, and breathability
- Wearing shoes with low heels, and not pointed
- Wearing shoes with laces because they are often roomier, and adjustable
- Wearing shoes with good arch support
HOW DR. BLAAKMAN TREATS THE CONDITION:
When a patient visits our office, Dr. Blaakman will examine the feet, and will then be able to determine treatment options based on the evaluation. We can treat this condition, sometimes conservatively, with the use of padding and strapping to the area, and some digital stabilization. However, there are other times when people need some type of surgical intervention to either release a tendon or remove some of the bone associated with this condition to allow for straightening of the toe.
The success rate for hammertoes is very high. Often patients are treated in an outpatient procedure for this, and heal fairly quickly after a procedure. However, if the condition is not treated, the patient will continue to have problems in this area, continue to have difficulty with certain shoe gears, and possibly activities he or she enjoys. You can treat the symptoms by purchasing shoes with wide-spaced or wide toe-box areas, and orthotics is an option as well.