A hammertoe is a structural abnormality where tendon and muscle imbalances cause one of your smaller toes (usually the second, third, or fourth toe) to bend upwards from the middle joint. That creates an appearance that resembles a hammer, thus the name of the condition.
The types of hammertoe include:
A flexible hammertoe is still bendable, so you can straighten the toe before it moves back into its bent position.
A semi-rigid hammertoe is still movable with some effort, but it’s harder to move because the joint is starting to freeze in place.
A rigid hammertoe is frozen in place, so the joint isn’t movable at all.
Without treatment, a flexible hammertoe can eventually turn semi-rigid and then rigid. People with arthritis are more likely to develop rigid hammertoes and, therefore, may experience a faster progression from flexible to rigid hammertoe.
Issues due to hammertoes are more significant than you might expect. Some common effects of hammertoe include:
Hammertoes can also cause calluses and pain in the ball of your foot because they can change your weight distribution and the way you move.
Hammertoes and bunions often occur simultaneously, so it’s common to experience pain and other symptoms on the side of your big or little toe alongside your hammertoe symptoms.
Treatment of hammertoes can include both conservative and advanced strategies based upon your particular needs. With flexible and semi-rigid hammertoe, treatment approaches, such as padding, taping, custom orthotics, and medication, may relieve the pain and re-establish the proper balance in your affected toe.
If you have a rigid hammertoe, the team can recommend a specialized surgery to restore the balance in your foot and prevent the joint from contracting abnormally again.
In the future, wearing supportive shoes, using custom orthotics, and avoiding high heels can all help to reduce the risk of another hammertoe.
For hammertoe treatment from the premier foot specialists in Columbus, call Columbus Foot & Ankle, P.C., or click on the provided booking tool to schedule your appointment now.