A hammer toe develops from an imbalance occurring within the muscles and ligaments around the toe joint. This imbalance causes the toe’s middle joint to unnaturally bend and, in turn, get stuck in the bent position. Among the most common complaints regarding a hammer toe, is irritation and discomfort on the bent part of the toe. Hammer toe can develop on any toe of the foot. Contributors to hammer toes can include:
- Improper foot wear – Women have a higher risk of developing hammertoes due to particular shoe styles.
- Improper blood circulation – Those with diabetes are more likely to get hammertoes.
There are two categories of hammertoes: flexible and rigid.Flexible hammertoes – This type of hammertoe occurs when a patient is still able to move the toe at the joint. This occurs at the early stages of hammertoe development and, in most cases, can be treated relatively easily. Rigid hammertoes - This type of hammer occurs when a patient is unable to move the toe at all. When the toe’s tendons become too rigid, they can cause the joint of the toe to become misaligned. In most cases, a rigid hammertoe must be treated with surgery.
Every toe’s muscles function in pairs. When balance is compromised within the muscles of the toe, a hammertoe can develop. This is because with imbalance, the toe’s tendons and joints are subsequently put under additional stress and pressure. This extra stress causes the toe to change shape, becoming a hammertoe. There are three common reasons the toe’s muscles will become imbalanced:
- Genetics – In some cases, heredity can be at play. If you have inherited foot instability, such a flat feet or a high arch, hammertoes can develop more easily.
Symptoms of hammertoes can include, but are not limited to:
- The top of the toe hurts when putting on shoes
- Corn development occurs on the top of the joint
- Swelling of the joint
- It becomes difficult to move the toe
- Pain in the joint
- Corn development on the top of the toe joint
Some at-home treatment and preventative methods may be utilized.
- Wide toe-box shoes should be worn to reduce pain and give more room for toes to bend properly.
- Women shouldn’t wear heals any higher than two inches.
- Non-medicated pads can be used on the hammertoe and may relieve pressure on the joint.
- Softly massaging the joint may decrease pain.
- Ice packs can be placed on the hammertoe for pain relief.
Surgery may be necessary to relieve the pain and discomfort caused by the deformed toes. The procedure to correct hammertoes is called arthroplasty, where the physician removes a small segment of the bone from the affected joint. Arthrodesis is another surgical option which is used for more severe cases or when multiple joints or toes are involved. This procedure fuses a small joint in the toe to another in order to straighten them. Often, those who have hammertoe will suffer from other foot problems, as well, such as bunions. The length of recovery time will depend on the procedures being done to correct the problem(s).
Hammertoes are common and easy to treat. The doctors at West Medical are happy to provide the best suited service to your individual case. To learn
more about treatment for hammertoes in Los Angeles and Southern California, please contact the West Medical offices at
(855) 690-0565, and our helpful medical staff will answer any questions you may have.
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