Philadelphia Tri-state Area Podiatrists Answer Foot Health Questions About Hammertoe
We believe that every question deserves a good answer. Healthmark Foot and Ankle provides you the best up-to date information for your concerns.
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I don’t want to have hammertoe surgery, but the pain is killing me. Is there anything else I can do?
There may be a way to avoid surgery, but it depends on the nature of your condition. There are a number of non-surgical treatment options, and all of them should be applied before considering surgery.
For example, toe padding and foot orthotics can greatly relieve the pressure on your misshapen toe, giving you back some of the lost balance and dexterity in your foot. Pads can also be used to protect the top of the toe from rubbing against the insides of your shoes, preventing corns and calluses from forming.
The most effective non-surgical method for relieving hammertoe pain is wearing shoes with enough room to allow the bent toe to stretch completely, and a wide enough toe box to accommodate all of the toes without crowding. Since recurrence of the condition is one of the most common hammertoe surgery side effects, your doctor may want to counsel you on your footwear choices—whether or not you decide to have surgery.
Hammertoe surgery may be necessary only if your toe deformity is:
- Extremely painful
- Interfering with your normal daily activities
- Rigid (unable to be bent or flexed)
- Unchanged after all non-surgical treatments have been tried
The trusted Philadelphia podiatrists at HealthMark Foot & Ankle Associates can tell you if you are a good candidate for hammertoe surgery in your first consultation. Call us today at 610-565-3668 in Media or 610-933-8644 in Phoenixville to get started.
Want more information on living a foot-pain-free life? Click the link at the top of this page, and we’ll send you a FREE copy of our book, The Foot is Not an Island: Recognizing Vitamin D Deficiency & How to Correct It.
Will I need surgery to fix my hammertoes?
It depends. The most common methods of treating painful hammertoes in Philadelphia involve changing footwear and allowing the bunched and bent toes to relax naturally. However, your course of treatment will depend on the type of hammertoe you have, how much pain it is currently causing you, and if you have any additional conditions that increase your health risks.
First, your Phoenixville podiatrist will determine which kind of hammertoe you are suffering from. There are generally two kinds:
- Flexible hammertoes. Your podiatrist may try to move your toe at the joint where it is bent. If it will move, it is a flexible hammertoe—an early-stage version of the condition. Mild hammertoe cases may be corrected with non-surgical treatment options.
- Rigid hammertoes. If your hammertoe cannot be moved or flexed, it means the tendons in the toe have become rigid. If they have progressed to this point, the ligaments are unlikely to relax on their own, and they are pressing the joint out of alignment. Patients usually need surgery to correct a rigid hammertoe.
The most common surgical procedure for a hammertoe involves snipping the tendon underneath the toe, allowing it to lay flat. If the patient is diabetic or has poor circulation, surgery may be needed to avoid persistent foot ulcers—a common source of infection that can lead to amputation or even early death.
For more information on treating painful foot conditions, call the trusted podiatrists at HealthMark Foot & Ankle Associates today at 610-565-3668 in Media or 610-933-8644 in Phoenixville to set up your first consultation. To learn how to take great care of your feet, click the link at the top of this page and we’ll send you a FREE copy of our book, The Foot is Not an Island: Recognizing Vitamin D Deficiency & How to Correct It.
Are tight shoes the only cause of hammertoes?
No. Wearing tight, narrow, or ill-fitting shoes is one of the most common causes of hammertoes, but there are other reasons a patient might develop hammertoes (or mallet toes) in Philadelphia.
Wearing high-heeled shoes or shoes that don’t provide enough room in the toe box tends to crowd your toes and prevent them from lying flat. Over time, this can lead to a hammertoe, but hammertoes can also stem from:
- Injury. If you have jammed or broken a toe in the past, it is more susceptible to becoming a hammertoe or mallet toe.
- Inherited conditions. You may be genetically predisposed to hammertoes if there’s a history of foot deformities or misshapen feet in your family.
- Diabetes. Nerve and muscle damage stemming from diabetic neuropathy can lead to abnormal foot functioning.
- Other disease. Any disease that affects the nerves, muscles, or joints can cause the toes to become shortened or curled. These include arthritis, stroke, and even chronic obesity.
No matter how minor your case might be, you should take steps to correct this condition sooner rather than later. The trusted Philadelphia podiatrists at Healthmark Foot and Ankle Associates can work with you to discover what is causing your painful hammertoes. We will find a course of treatment that works with your lifestyle, help you to treat your feet at home and show you how to avoid similar foot problems in the future.
Call us today at 610-565-3668 in Media or 610-933-8644 in Phoenixville to set up a consultation.
For more information about taking great care of your feet, click the link at the top of this page and we’ll send you a FREE copy of our book The Foot Is Not an Island: Recognizing Vitamin D Deficiency & How to Correct It.
Is there a way to treat my child’s hammertoes at home?
Yes! Children often suffer painful hammertoes as a result of wearing shoes they’ve outgrown. Shoes that are too tight cause the feet to “bunch up” inside the shoes, and eventually the tendons in the toes remain contracted even when shoes are not worn.
Mild cases of hammertoe often can be remedied in a number of ways, including:
- Splinting. The toe is straightened and splinted to prevent recurrence; however, it is best to seek a Philadelphia podiatrist’s advice to see if this will be effective.
- Insoles, pads, and inserts. These products can help cushion the feet, hold the toes in more comfortable alignment, and/or relieve pressure while wearing shoes. Some can also prevent the joint of the bent toe from rubbing on the inside of the shoe.
- Exercises. If your child is able to move the affected toe without pain, encourage him to do exercises that will flex and stretch his toes, such as using his toes to crumple up a towel, or picking up a pencil or marbles from the floor with his toes.
- New shoes. Children go through growth spurts constantly, so it’s important to make sure they are wearing the correct size shoe. Choose shoes with wide toe boxes, and avoid higher heels (which place more weight and pressure on the toes).
It’s important that you take steps to correct this condition as soon as possible. While hammertoes are a correctable condition, they can easily lead to other, more serious problems—including foot deformities and joint problems—if left untreated.
The experienced Philadelphia-area foot specialists at Healthmark Foot & Ankle Associates can help you get your child’s feet back in good health again. Call us at 610-565-3668 in Media or 610-933-8644 in Phoenixville to set up your consultation.
How can you deal with the pain and agony of hammertoe?
Resolving a serious case of hammertoe can be a profoundly difficult task, even if you’re working with a board-certified Pennsylvania podiatrist. In general, the longer and harsher the insult to the muscles and ligaments of the toe, the more painful the healing process will be. Other factors that can influence the amount of pain you’ll experience include your general level of health and fitness; the existence (or absence) of confounding health problems, such as immune diseases or obesity; and your own personal, subjective pain threshold.
Two ways to think of pain: short-term and long-term
Human beings have a peculiar relationship with the phenomenon of pain. Specifically, we ardently work to avoid acute sources of pain—if you break your leg or get shot, you’ll immediately seek help. On the other hand, we often tolerate chronic pain that, if aggregated, would be more unbearable than any single acute type of pain imaginable.
For instance, say you "summed up" all the agony caused by an untreated hammertoe over a six-month period of time, and you compared that “total pain” with the total pain of a gunshot wound or broken leg. Odds are, the subtle chronic hammertoe pain would probably be greater in magnitude.
Resolving the agony for good
Multiple steps can be taken to eliminate or at least reduce the agony. For instance, you can improve your footwear—the toe boxes on women’s high heels are notorious for cramping the toes and awkwardly contorting the muscles and ligaments.
You can also manage your blood sugar and inflammation issues better. Diabetes and other similar diseases have a clear and clinical impact on foot health: treatment of diabetic neuropathy can be critical to pain relief.
Get an integrated diagnosis to rule out other possible problems. If you suffer from blood clotting problems, rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, or other similar conditions, you may need to treat those underlying conditions to resolve the pain.
Don’t diagnose yourself. Get effective and experienced help with your foot pain
The team here at Healthmark Foot & Ankle Associates consists of three full-time board-certified Philadelphia-area podiatrists. We can explain what to do—and what not to do—to help you get better and manage issues associated with your hammertoe. Call us now at 610-565-3668.
What are hammertoes?
Hammertoes are contractive deformities of the lesser toes typically resulting from a intolerance of the extensor and flexor tendons. Genetic predisposition, foot structure, and shoe gear will all contribute to the development of hammertoes. Non-surgical treatments consist of higher toe box shoes, pads, anti-inflamatories, and anti-biotics. If a patient continues to experience pain, surgical repair may be necessary.