Now that sandals are being worn and people are going bare foot, hammertoe deformities are probably the second most noticeable foot deformity after the bunion. A hammertoe deformity exists when the base of the toe points upward and the end of the toe points down. The toe actually looks like the head of a hammer. Sometimes this deformity is symptomatic and simple shoe gear adjustments such as using a shoe with a roomy toe box and using socks that do not pull on the toes is all that is necessary to keep a person pain free.
The sign of a hammertoe becoming painful is the development of a corn on the top of the hammered joint. If the toe continues to be irritated by shoe pressure or the pulling of tight stockings, a bursa can form under the corn. This is nature’s way to protect the underlying bone. Injection therapy to shrink the bursa is often all that is necessary to alleviate the pain.
Another relatively simple solution is to release the tight tendons and capsule to allow the joint to relax and permit the toe to assume a more normal position. While this is a surgical procedure, it is not one that requires a long post-operative recuperative period. Once the hammertoe becomes rigid, it becomes increasingly painful. A rigid hammertoe requires the removal of a small piece of bone to remove the hammered bend.
At Livingston Foot Care Specialists our Board Certified podiatrists stress conservative care as the best defense for painful foot conditions. To manage the hammertoe deformity it is important to allow the correct amount of space in the toe box of the shoe to allow the toes to function without excessive pressure. If a corn does develop, it is important to seek professional attention. Self treatment can cause infections and increase the possibility of bursitis developing.
Surgical intervention should only be considered if all other treatment modalities fail. At Livingston Foot Care Specialists surgery by our Board Certified podiatrists is done as an out-patient and patients do not have long recuperative disability especially if the deformity is treated early.