Hammer Toe

hammer toeThe most common toe deformities are hammer toes, claw toes, and bone spurs. These involve the “lesser toes” rather than the big toe, but their effect should not be seen as “lesser.” Southwest Foot and Ankle Center, with locations in Lewisville, Plano and Irving, provides complete diagnostic exams and treatment for hammer toe, a condition that causes the toes to bend down at the middle knuckle.

The painful results of hammer toe can include corns, calluses and bone spurs or joint deformities. Our podiatry and foot surgery team offers patients the solution for these and other toe disorders.

Corns on the toes can red, swollen or even develop open sores. This is not a skin condition, but irritation from bone and joint pressure inside your shoes.

What Causes Hammer Toe?

Several people are born with a type of foot that predisposes them to hammer and claw toes. People with flat feet, high-arched feet or really flexible feet are more prone to develop these problems. Other causes are excessively long toes, tendon imbalance, injury, rheumatoid arthritis, and neuromuscular disease. Over time, the mechanics of your foot and shoes increases deformities. Women are more frequently affected, probably because of the type of shoes they wear.

Hamme Toe Symptoms

The severity of the deformity may not correlate with the degree of pain. For example, a hammer toe or claw toe that looks severe may have no pain; while mild-looking deformities may be incapacitating.

Pain and corns usually develop over the toes due to the friction of the shoe in that area. This rubbing of the shoe may cause a red, inflamed sac of tissue called bursitis. Initially, the deformities are flexible and can bet treated with simple measures but, if left untreated, they can become rigid or stiff and cannot be straightened. As time goes on, pain may develop deep in the toe joints and even the ball of the foot, limiting walking, exercise or even just standing comfortably.

Hammer toes and claw toes are sometimes caused or made worse by a bunion, a deformity involving the big toes. When the big toes start to angle over, the big toe may cause increased pressure on the second toe or the second toe may be pushed upward out of the way.

Hammer Toe Treatments

When hammer toes and claw toes are causing mild to moderate pain, the simplest solution to try is a wider, more accommodating shoe to allow room for the toes to move. This includes lower heels, softer leather, wider toe boxes, and athletic shoes. Use of a pumice stone to thin any corns and calluses is sometimes helpful, but not advised for those with neuropathy or diabetic foot. Podiatrists do not recommend the use of a “medicated” corn pad since these contain acid which can lead to a chemical burn or deep open sore which may become infected.

When hammer toe remains painful despite conservative therapy options, or you cannot find shoes that are comfortable, surgical correction should be discussed with our specialist, Reza Mobarak, DPM, FACFAS, FAPWCA, board certified foot surgeon.

Patients who have their symptomatic hammer toes and claw toes corrected earlier tend to have greater satisfaction after the procedure. When these treatment options are no longer providing the comfort you need, consultation with your podiatric physician is advised to discuss surgical options.

The goal of surgical correction is to restore normal alignment and function of the toe joint. If the toes are still flexible the tight tendons can be released and the toe straightened through a small poke-hole in the skin. If the toe is rigid, the knuckle is straightened and returned to a normal alignment. A small pin is sometimes placed inside the bones to hold the toe in proper position while it heals.

Following surgery, the foot is bandaged and a post operative shoe is worn. Exercise and prolonged standing are restricted for the first 6-8 weeks. A home exercise program is important for regaining the strength and flexibility. You may steadily resume activities and wear more fashionable shoes as healing occurs, and in consultation with our qualified foot surgeon.

Contact Southwest Foot and Ankle Center

For more information about hammer toe treatments, consult with our podiatry team by contacting us online, or call for an appointment in Lewisville at 972-318-2738, in Plano at 972-805-9985 or in Irving at 972-318-2655.