A hammertoe is a toe with a joint permanently buckled downward. It may be flexible or stiff, and may occur on any toe. Hammertoes occur when abnormalities in the function of the foot cause ligaments and tendons to tighten. This results in the toe's joints bending, cocking the toe upward.
Second digit hammertoe
Pain from hammertoes usually occurs when shoes rub on the prominent portion of the toe. The result is inflammation and possibly corns, calluses or ulceration.
Hammertoe causing ulcertion.
Early on in the process of forming a hammertoe, the toe remains
flexible, and will straighten when pressure is applied to the buckled
area. As time passes, the toe can become permanently contracted and
rigid. Painful calluses on the bottom of the foot may accompany rigid
hammertoes because of increased pressure generated on the joint due to
the contracted toe.
Our goal is always to treat without surgery if at all possible. We are able to provide conservative treatment for hammertoes in a majority of cases. This can involve:
• Wearing supportive orthotics in shoes. This helps relieve pressure on toe deformities and allows the toes and major joints of the foot to function more appropriately.
• Wearing shoes with more room in the toe box.
• Splints or small straps to realign the toe.
• Trimming or padding corns and calluses.
Shoe with a small toe box rubs on toe causing symptoms.
In certain cases, anti-inflammatory medications may be injected to
relieve pain and inflammation.
Conservative treatments do not straighten the toe or correct the deformity. They can, however, relieve pain. In cases where conservative treatment fails, the toes can be straightened surgically. Surgical solutions are usually very effective, but to ensure the best outcomes, it is important that you choose the right surgeon and that the surgeon performs the appropriate procedure. For more information, visit our surgical solutions page.
Don’t live with toe pain. If you are experiencing symptoms call today for an appointment in our convenient Seattle office.
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Douglas Hale, DPM & Lawrence Huppin, DPM
Foot and Ankle Center of Washington, Seattle
The material provided on this web site is for informative purposes only.
If you need specific medical advice, please contact the office for an appointment.