Your Idaho Falls & Rexburg Foot & Ankle Specialists
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Causes of Hammertoes
The most common cause of hammertoe is a muscle/tendon imbalance. This imbalance, which leads to a bending of the toe, results from mechanical (structural) or neurological changes in the foot that occur over time in some people.
Symptoms of Hammertoes
Common symptoms of hammertoes include:
Pain with Shoes
- Pain or irritation of the affected toe when wearing shoes.
Corns & Calluses
- Corns and calluses (a buildup of skin) on the toe, between two toes or on the ball of the foot. Corns are caused by constant friction against the shoe. They may be soft or hard, depending on their location.
- Inflammation, redness or a burning sensation
- Contracture of the toe
- In more severe cases of hammertoe, open sores may form.
Diagnosis of Hammertoes
Although hammertoes are readily apparent, to arrive at a diagnosis, at Idaho Foot & Ankle Center, your foot and ankle surgeon will obtain a thorough history of your symptoms and examine your foot. During the physical examination, the doctor may attempt to reproduce your symptoms by manipulating your foot and will study the contractures of the toes. In addition, the foot and ankle surgeon may take x-rays to determine the degree of the deformities and assess any changes that may have occurred.
Nonsurgical Treatments for Hammertoes
There is a variety of treatment options for hammertoe. The treatment your foot and ankle surgeon selects will depend on the severity of your hammertoe and other factors.
A number of nonsurgical measures can be undertaken:
- Padding corns and calluses. Your foot and ankle surgeon can provide or prescribe pads designed to shield corns from irritation. If you want to try over-the-counter pads, avoid the medicated types. Medicated pads are generally not recommended because they may contain a small amount of acid that can be harmful. Consult your surgeon about this option.
- Changes in shoewear. Avoid shoes with pointed toes, shoes that are too short, or shoes with high heels—conditions that can force your toe against the front of the shoe. Instead, choose comfortable shoes with a deep, roomy toebox and heels no higher than two inches.
- Orthotic devices. A custom orthotic device placed in your shoe may help control the muscle/tendon imbalance. Injection therapy. Corticosteroid injections are sometimes used to ease pain and inflammation caused by hammertoe.
- Medications. Oral nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen, may be recommended to reduce pain and inflammation. Splinting/strapping. Splints or small straps may be applied by the surgeon to realign the bent toe.