What is a Hammer Toe?
Hammer toe deformities are common and wide ranging. They can affect people of all ages. They can be due to an inherited abnormal bone structure in the toes, or due to poor foot function, eg. flat feet, which puts excessive demands on the joints in the toes.
Correction of any of these faulty mechanics can improve toe deformities, particularly if treated early. Toes can appear clawed, rotated or abnormally flexed in one of the toe joints.
If left untreated, problems with toe deformities include painful corns, pain in the toe joints, problems with shoe fitting and the hammer toe is vulnerable to ulceration in patients with diabetes or circulation problems.
There are two main types of hammer toe.
Flexible Hammer Toe
In the early stages, the affected toes are still movable at the joint and can be straightened manually.
Rigid Hammer Toe
As the condition progresses, the tendons tighten, and the joints become misaligned and immobile. At this point, surgical intervention may be required to correct the deformity.
Common symptoms include:
- A toe that bends downward at the middle joint
- Corns or calluses on the top of the middle joint of the toe or on the tip of the toe
- Pain when wearing shoes that rub against the bent toe
- Inflammation and redness
- Reduced mobility in the toe joint
Causes may include:
- Poorly fitting shoes
- Muscle imbalance
- Age-related weakening of toe muscles
- Arthritis or other joint conditions
- Trauma to the toe
Hammer Toe Diagnosis
Diagnosis is generally straightforward and is based on a physical examination of the foot and toe. X-rays may be used to assess the severity of the joint deformity.
Hammer Toe Treatment
At Galleria Podiatry, we provide hammer toe treatment to all patients near Bayswater. Treatment often starts with conservative methods:
- Switching to shoes with a wider toe box
- Using pads or cushions to relieve pressure on the toe
- Toe exercises to stretch and strengthen muscles
- Orthotic insoles to help correct muscle imbalance
- Protective shields or pads can be manufactured quickly and easily by Galleria Podiatry to protect the underlying joints.
At Galleria Podiatry, we can successfully correct some toe deformities. In appropriate cases, however, surgery may be required. Surgery may involve:
- Removing part of the toe bone to allow it to straighten
- Cutting or transferring tendons or ligaments
- Fusing the joint to keep the toe straight
It’s important to consult a podiatrist for a proper diagnosis and treatment plan tailored to your condition. Book an appointment with Galleria Podiatry!
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