Hammertoe is a deformity where one or both joints of the second, third, fourth or fifth toes begin to bend outside of their normal alignment. Pressure can begin to weigh heavy on the toes as you wear shoes which is where pain and other symptoms develop.
Hammertoes typically begin with small symptoms and deformities and continue to worsen with time. In its beginning stages, hammertoes are often impressionable which means they can be controlled using minimal treatment. It is important to know the signs of hammertoes to get them evaluated early. If left untreated, hammertoes can become more firm and difficult to manipulate, requiring surgery.
Common symptoms of hammertoes include:
- Pain or irritation of the affected toe when wearing shoes.
- 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
- Bending of the toe
- In more severe cases of hammertoe, open sores may form.
If you have questions about hammertoe or would like to schedule an appointment, please don’t hesitate to contact us today!
Welcome to our Q&A page on hammertoes, where we seek expert advice from Dr. Amnon Barnea, a highly skilled podiatrist based in New York City. Dr. Barnea’s expertise in diagnosing and treating foot conditions, including hammertoes, offers valuable insights into this common foot issue. Let’s explore some frequently asked questions related to hammertoes and learn from Dr. Amnon Barnea’s expertise.
Q1: What are hammertoes, and what causes them?
Dr. Amnon Barnea: Hammertoes are a common foot deformity characterized by an abnormal bending of the toes. This condition typically affects the second, third, or fourth toe and can occur in one or both feet. Hammertoes develop when the muscles and tendons that control the toes become imbalanced, causing the affected toe to bend downward at the middle joint. The most common causes include wearing ill-fitting shoes that force the toes into a cramped position, foot injuries, or genetics.
Q2: How do I know if I have a hammertoe? What are the common symptoms?
Dr. Amnon Barnea: Hammertoes are usually easily recognizable due to the abnormal bend in the affected toe. The toe may appear claw-like or resemble a hammer, hence the name. Common symptoms include pain and discomfort in the affected toe when wearing shoes or walking, redness, swelling, and the development of corns or calluses on top of the bent joint. If you suspect you have a hammertoe or experience any of these symptoms, I recommend seeking professional evaluation.
Q3: Can hammertoes be treated without surgery?
Dr. Amnon Barnea: Yes, non-surgical treatments can often help manage hammertoe symptoms effectively, especially when addressed early. Conservative treatments may include wearing roomier, more comfortable shoes with a wide toe box to accommodate the toes’ proper alignment. Custom orthotics or shoe inserts can also help correct foot mechanics and alleviate pressure on the affected toe. Toe exercises, such as stretching and strengthening exercises, may be beneficial. Additionally, applying protective padding to corns or calluses can provide relief.
Q4: When should I consider hammertoe surgery, and what does the procedure entail?
Dr. Amnon Barnea: Hammertoe surgery is usually recommended when non-surgical treatments do not provide sufficient relief, and the condition significantly impacts the patient’s daily life or causes chronic pain. The surgical approach depends on the severity of the hammertoe and the individual’s unique needs. The procedure typically involves releasing or lengthening the affected tendons and ligaments to straighten the toe. After the surgery, proper post-operative care and following the doctor’s instructions are vital for a successful recovery.
Q5: Are there any preventive measures to avoid hammertoe development or progression?
Dr. Amnon Barnea: While some factors contributing to hammertoes, such as genetics, cannot be prevented, there are steps you can take to reduce the risk of their development or progression. Wearing properly fitting shoes with a wide toe box and low heels can help. Avoiding high heels or shoes with narrow toe boxes that squeeze the toes together is essential. Additionally, regularly performing toe exercises to strengthen the foot muscles can help maintain toe flexibility and alignment.
Q6: How can I seek professional help for my hammertoes?
Dr. Amnon Barnea: If you suspect you have hammertoes or experience symptoms associated with this condition, I recommend scheduling a consultation with a qualified podiatrist. As an experienced podiatrist in New York City, I am dedicated to providing personalized care and effective solutions for hammertoes and other foot-related conditions. Early evaluation and intervention can lead to better outcomes and improved foot health.
We hope these insights from Dr. Amnon Barnea have been informative, and if you need professional evaluation and care for your hammertoes, please don’t hesitate to contact us to schedule an appointment at our New York City office.