What is a hammertoe?
A hammertoe is a bent, crooked toe that sticks up and hurts when you wear certain shoes. Hammertoes are very common and we see this condition every day in our podiatric office. They affect both men and women, although women usually suffer more because of the type of shoes that they wear. Similar toe deformities include claw toes and mallet toes.
What are the causes of hammertoes?
Hammertoes are an inherited condition. What causes them to occur is an imbalance in the pull of your muscles and tendons that enter your foot. In a western movie when the cowboy pulls on the reigns of his horse, the horse turns in whatever direction he is pulled. The same thing is true with a hammertoe. If one of the tendons pulls your toe down, it starts to bend downward. Other tendons on the top of your foot can pull it upwards. Over time, these tendons can become tight and your hammertoe remains crooked and bent. Arthritis can also occur in your toe joints and appear as little lumps and bumps on your toes. This combined with the tight tendon leads to a hammertoe.
What are the symptoms of hammertoes?
With hammertoes, it is often difficult to wear closed-toe shoes because the bent and raised hammertoe rubs against the top of the toe box. A painful corn may develop over the joint of a hammertoe and this would also cause pain when wearing closed-toe shoes. Sometimes, the skin can break open and bleed. If this occurs, you could also develop an infection in your toe, which would be a much more serious problem.
What treatment is available for your hammertoes?
There are many different ways to treat hammertoes depending on the severity of your condition. Treatment always begins by helping you understand how your hammertoes developed. We can help you find different shoes that won’t put as much pressure on your toes and provide some relief from your pain. In addition, we can try padding your toes for temporary relief. Often the best treatment is to surgically correct your condition so it can be treated once and for all.
Other treatment methods may simply mask your symptoms for a short period of time. The success rate for hammertoe treatment is over 95%. Our goal when treating your hammertoes is to relieve your pain so that you can walk in your shoes without having any discomfort.
Because a hammertoe is an inherited condition, you cannot prevent it from developing. Wearing shoes with plenty of room for your toes to move freely will help decrease any friction on your toes and decrease the rate of progression. Hammertoes will worsen over time, so preventative intervention is key to maintaining your foot health and mobility.
If your hammertoes are painful and wearing shoes or staying involved in your favorite activities is proving difficult, we can help. Call Dr. Stavros Alexopoulos today and make an appointment for treatment to help you return to a pain-free life. Call our Chicago podiatric office at (773) 561-8100.