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Footnotes / Blog

What are Hammertoes?

Sunday, November 19th, 2017 Elizabeth Anthony

A “hammertoe” is a toe that is abnormally bent at the middle joint of a toe. Moving the affected toe may be difficult or painful. Corns and calluses can result from the toe rubbing against the inside of your shoes.

Risk Factors and Causes

Certain things can put a patient at increased risk for developing a hammertoe.

  • Gender
    • Females are more likely than males to suffer from hammertoes.
  • Age
    • As a patient gets older, hammertoes are more likely to occur.
  • Toe Length
    • Smaller toes that are longer than the big toe often turn into hammertoes.
  • Medical Diseases
    • Certain types of arthritis (rheumatoid, psoriatic) cause toes become hammered.
    • Diabetes also causes changes in the pull of muscles in the feet, creating hammer toes.
  • Genetics
    • Hammertoes can run in families, as feet are genetic like the rest of your body.

Prevention

Hammertoes are often inherited or caused by trauma to the toe. However, improperly fitting shoes may cause a hammertoe to occur due to the forces pressing on the toe.

Hammertoes are progressive—they do not go away by themselves and usually they will get worse over time. However, not all cases are alike—some hammertoes progress more rapidly than others

Treatment

Conservative

  • Padding for corns and calluses: Your foot and ankle surgeon can provide or prescribe pads designed to shield corns from irritation. If you want to try over-the-counter pads, avoid the medicated types. Medicated pads are generally not recommended because they may contain a small amount of acid that can be harmful. Consult your surgeon about this option.
  • Changes in shoegear: Avoid shoes with pointed toes, shoes that are too short, or shoes with high heel. These conditions may force your toe against the front of the shoe. Try to choose comfortable shoes with a deep, roomy toebox and heels no higher than two inches.
  • Custom Foot Orthotics: A custom orthotic device placed in your shoe may help control the muscle/tendon imbalance.
  • Injection therapy: Corticosteroid injections are sometimes used to ease pain and inflammation caused by a hammertoe.

Surgical

  • When hammertoes become constantly painful, or are the cause of open sores on the toes that won’t heal, then surgery may be needed.
  • Surgical corrections range from soft tissue procedures to bony fusions.
  • Your podiatrist will evaluate your deformity to choose the correct procedure for you.

The licensed podiatrists at Innovative Foot and Ankle are all trained in conservative and surgical treatment of hammertoes. If you are having any type of foot pain, schedule an appointment with Innovative Foot and Ankle.

We have offices located throughout Northern New Jersey in Montclair, Kenilworth, Bayonne and Little Ferry.