Hammertoes result due to an imbalance of the muscles between the tendons on the top and bottom of the toe. The condition can make the toes flexible or rigid. When rigid, it is impossible to straighten the toe out through manipulation. Oftentimes, the toes develop corns as a result of friction from the shoe. They may also result in a troublesome callous located on the ball of the foot. This happens as a result of the toe pushing downward on the bone in back of the toe. The area becomes prominent and the pressure from the bone pushing against the floor causes a callous to develop.
If left untreated, hammertoes tend to slowly worsen over time and toes that were once flexible may become rigid. Treatment can be preventative, symptomatic or curative, depending on each individual care.
The preventative treatment for hammertoes is aimed at the cause of the condition. One of the preventative measures is the use of a functional orthotic; a special insert prescribed by the physicians at East Ocean Podiatry to address possible abnormal functioning of the foot. These inserts are highly effective at correcting a multitude of problems with the foot. Oftentimes, when orthotics are used for hammertoes the toes will straighten out over time and correct themselves. Calf stretching exercises are beneficial as they may help overcome some of the muscle imbalance that is at the root of the condition.
Symptomatic treatment consists of using open toed shoes or hammertoe pads. There are over the counter corn removers for temporarily lessening the painful callous that often accompanies the hammertoe. These products must be used with great care as they contain a mild acid that can burn healthy skin if not applied properly. People with diabetes or serious circulatory conditions should avoid the use of these products.
Curative treatment of hammertoes depends on the severity of the condition. If surgery is chosen to correct a rigid hammertoe, the procedure involves displacing damaged skin, then removing a small bone at the level of the rigid joint. After surgery, the stitches stay in place for about ten days. During this time, it is paramount that the area be kept dry.. Rehabilitation time varies, depending on certain factors such as age, overall physical health, healing rate and severity of the condition.
If you have hammertoes and would like to find out what your options for treatment are, call East Ocean Podiatry today to set up an appointment.