A hammertoe is an abnormal alignment of a toe other than the big toe. Normally, a toe should be straight. In almost all cases, people are born with toes that are normally aligned. Unfortunately, as we age, many of us develop hammertoes.
Although people who are missing one or more toes can walk, run and function normally, our toes play an important role. Toes help with balance and they help to propel us forward when we are walking and running.
For our toes to remain straight, a delicate balance is required. On each toe there are muscles, tendons and ligaments. All of these components must work in harmony for the toes to function properly and for the toes to remain straight. Many of us are born with a foot type that does not allow this proper balance and over time, hammertoes develop.
Hammertoes can lead to significant pain. The parts of the toes that become prominent can rub on shoes or even rub too much on an adjacent toe. This can be painful. It can also lead to the development of painful corns on the toes. The abnormal toe alignment can also cause too much pressure on the ball of the foot, leading to pain there.
In the early stages of hammertoe development, addressing the abnormality in the way the foot functions can slow or halt the development of this problem. This can sometimes be accomplished with the use of a custom shoe insert known as an orthotic device.
As hammertoes develop, wearing shoes with a deeper toe box can prevent painful pressure on the toes. An effective treatment may simply involve wearing more appropriate shoes.
If the pain is due to a corn the hammertoe has caused, having Dr Helms or Dr Bowers trim the corns will likely bring complete relief. However, keep in mind the corns will redevelop. Some patients opt to have their corns trimmed on a regular basis.
Another treatment that is often successful at keeping the pain from hammertoes at bay is to use pads on the effected toes. A person with hammertoes can experiment with different pads that can be found at a pharmacy. Our doctors have various pads in the office that they have found to be particularly useful. Do not use medicated corn pads. These pads contain acid and the acid cannot differentiate between the corn and your normal skin.
Fixing the Problem
The treatments reviewed so far are helpful in managing problems associated with hammertoes. In some cases, the best treatment for a hammertoe is to fix the problem surgically. As with all foot surgeries, there is a period of healing required following hammertoe correction.
We Can Help
Doctors Helms and Bowers are experts in the evaluation and treatment of hammertoes. If you have a problem with pain in your toes, please give our office a call.