When you develop a hammertoe, you might try to ignore it and live with the pain. But this is never a good decision with foot problems. There are so many treatments available, many of them very simple, that there is no need to suffer.
As Philadelphia area podiatrists, we see many cases of hammertoe each year. This condition is basically a discrepancy between the toe muscles, which work in pairs. This imbalance exerts pressure on tendons and joints, resulting in hammertoes. Treatment depends on how severe your case is, but we recommend that you always see a doctor.
Hammertoe Treatment Options
The type of treatment prescribed for your hammertoe depends on the flexibility of the affected joint. If it still moves, then non-surgical options will probably be effective. If the toe no longer bends, surgery may be the best treatment.
Non-surgical treatment options include:
- A change in footwear. You should retire those “killer heels” you many have been wearing and substitute roomy shoes with a generously sized toe box.
- Orthotic shoe inserts or pads usually alleviate the discomfort of hammertoe.
- Physical therapy.
- Treatment of corns and calluses.
Surgical treatment options include:
- An incision is made in the toe to release the tendon. This is most often done if there is still some flexibility left.
- If there is little or no flexibility, your podiatrist may choose to do further work on the tendons and/or remove or fuse bones to allow toe to straighten.
- Most hammertoe surgeries are considered outpatient. The majority of patients go home the same day.
Treatment Options You Can Try at Home
Hammertoes should be evaluated by a professional. However, while you wait for your office visit, there are several tips you can implement on your own.
- Go shoeless as often as possible. This relieves your feet from the pressure and irritation that shoes cause.
- When you do wear shoes, be sure the heel is low, the toe box roomy and arch support good. There should be one-half inch between longest toe and end of shoe.
- You can try over-the-counter pads to protect your toes as a temporary relief.
- Over-the-counter anti-inflammatory drugs like Advil and Motrin can help with pain.
- Do not try to cut or shave corns and calluses yourself, especially if you have diabetes or circulation problems. Serious infections can result.
- There are many exercises you can do at home to help retain flexibility in your toe. For instance, while watching television, put a small ball or towel at your feet and use your toes to grip and release.
No matter what, you should not procrastinate if you suffer from hammertoe. This condition, if treated early, can often be resolved before real trouble begins.
Our Philadelphia tri-state area foot specialists at can treat your hammertoe and give you the results you want. We offer the most recent advances in podiatry and pride ourselves on our personal, caring treatment of each patient.