Hammertoe Treatment in Bellevue, NE
What is Hammertoe?
Hammertoe is a deformity that causes the toes to bend or curl downward instead of pointing forward. Each toe contains two joints that allow it to bend at the middle and bottom, and hammertoe occurs when the middle joint becomes dislocated. This dislocation is typically the result of a muscle and ligament imbalance around the toe joint caused by ill-fitting shoes.
There are two types of hammertoe:
- Flexible hammertoe: This occurs during the developmental stage, and the affected toes are still moveable at the joint. Flexible hammertoes are often managed with noninvasive measures.
- Rigid hammertoe: When the tendons tighten and the joints become misaligned, it becomes much more serious, and surgical intervention is often the only treatment.
In most cases, hammertoe syndrome occurs in the second toe, but the third, fourth and fifth toes can be affected as well. Hammertoes typically begin with mild deformities that get progressively worse over time, which is why early diagnosis and treatment are so important.
Signs and Symptoms of Hammertoes
Patients with hammertoe often find ordinary activities such as walking or stretching painful. When it is in its earliest stages and the toe is still flexible, hammertoe symptoms are mild to moderate. That does not mean they should be ignored because this condition worsens over time.
The most obvious symptom of hammertoe is the bent, hammer or claw-like appearance of one or more toes. Other symptoms include:
- Pain or irritation of the affected toe(s) when wearing shoes.
- Corns at the top of the joint caused by friction. When toes become deformed, they fit differently into socks and shoes, which causes friction and leads to the formation of corns.
- Inflammation, redness or a burning sensation.
Even if you are not significantly bothered by some of these symptoms, the severity of this condition becomes worse over time and should be checked as soon as symptoms appear.
Diagnosis and Treatment of Hammertoes
Diagnosing hammertoe is typically done with a simple visual and physical examination from your physician. During the exam, the doctor may attempt to reproduce symptoms by manipulating the foot to study the contractures of the toe. Additional imaging tests, such as X-rays, may be ordered if there appears to be a bone, muscle or tissue injury in the toe.
There are numerous non-surgical options for patients who are diagnosed with flexible hammertoe. Treatment can be as simple as buying a pair of properly fitting shoes, adding padding to the affected area or wearing shoe inserts. In more severe cases, splints or small straps may be applied to help realign a bent toe. Your doctor may also choose to provide anti-inflammatory drugs or cortisone injections to alleviate any immediate pain.
When patients allow this condition to progress to the point where the toe cannot flex, hammertoe surgery is often the only option. During surgery, the surgeon will reposition the toe, remove deformed or injured bone and realign the tendons. For less severe deformities, the surgeon will simply remove the bony prominence on the toe and realign the toe joint. The length of recovery time will vary depending on the severity of the condition and the procedure performed.
Request more information about hammertoe treatment today. Call (402) 289-8839 or contact Foot and Ankle Specialists online.
Foot and Ankle Specialists