Hammertoe
Couple at the beach
Hammertoes
A hammertoe is a name given to contracted, curly toes that have the shape of a hammer. These deformities can become quite uncomfortable, a hammertoe generally develops in one or two locations on a toe.  A "corn" or redness can be located at the toe joint closest to the body of the foot, or at the joint closest to the toenail. Sometimes the hammertoe that forms at the joint closest to the toenail is called a "mallet toe." Treatment for a hammertoe at either location is similar. Individuals get 'hammering of digits' mainly due to biomechanical abnormalities during walking. Although there is an increase in occurrence with those who have flat feet, contracted toes can show up in all types of feet. Hammertoes are also increasingly common with age. Poor shoes and genetics play a role in the development of these deformities.

Symptoms
An early sign may be that you have more difficulty or pain wearing your shoes. The longer you have a hammertoe, the more rigid and contracted the deformity can become. Most people realize they have a problem when they develop painful  calluses or blisters on the top of their toes. In severe cases, ulceration and infection can develop with hammertoes. Other signs of hammertoes include painful  calluses under the balls of the feet, cramping, and weakness. Sometimes a painful  area can develop between toes or on the side of the toe. This problem can be caused by a small bone spur.

Treatments
Most people start treating themselves because of painful  corns on top of the toe. They try corn pads, corn removers, cushioning pads, pedicures, etc. The problem is a structural deformity within the toe and thus the above mentioned treatments are temporary and affect only the skin. The source of the problem is the contracture of the bone within the toe. In the drawing above, the toe on the left shows contracture of the toe bones, with an overlying corn (or hyperkeratosis). The toe on the right shows a corrected hammertoe, with straight toe bones, and no overlying corn. The use of larger shoes may initially help this problem, but this will not alter the underlying bone structure problem.  The most effective treatment is surgical correction.

Surgery
The procedure can be done in the office or in an outpatient operating room using local anesthetic. The surgery takes less than fifteen minutes per toe. Through a small incision, the bone deformity is reduced and the tendons are rebalanced around the contracted joint. About four sutures are required. The patient can walk immediately in a special post-operative shoe, using minimal or no pain medication. A moderate and gradually increasing amount of walking is allowing during the first two weeks. The use of an ice pack and the elevation of the foot greatly decreases the swelling and discomfort. Two weeks after the surgery, the sutures are removed and usually wide or tennis shoes can be worn.

If you're tired of not fitting comfortably in your shoes, getting little relief from pads, and have corns that are sensitive and painful, then you might consider a surgical option.
Hammertoe




Foot and Ankle Center
1303 Sunset Drive
Johnson City, TN
423-232-1771 Phone




 

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