Orthopaedics, Spine & Podiatry Practice located in Hazlet, Old Bridge, & Middletown, NJ
The most important thing to know about hammertoe is that it never improves on its own, it only worsens. If you don’t get treatment at the start of a hammertoe, you’ll end up needing surgery to correct the problem. Ian R. Hersh, DPM, AACFAS, at Ani Orthopaedics in Hazlet and Old Bridge, New Jersey, can help with nonsurgical treatment at an early stage or with his surgical expertise when necessary. To schedule an appointment, call Ani Orthopaedics today or use the convenient online booking feature.
Hammer Toe Q & A
What causes hammertoe?
Hammertoe is a deformity that can affect the second, third, or fourth toes, but it’s most common in the second toe. It develops when the tip of the toe bends downward rather than pointing forward.
This abnormal bend in the toe is caused by an imbalance in the muscles that control the toe’s movement. Muscles work in pairs, with one group to bend and another to straighten each toe.
When a toe is forced to bend and is then held in that position for a period of time, the muscles tighten. As a result, the opposing muscles can’t return the toe to its normal, straight position. Causes of hammertoe often include:
- Second toe that’s longer than the big toe
- Shoes that cramp your toes
- Inflammatory joint disease
- Neuromuscular conditions
- Joint instability
Your risk of developing hammertoe increases if you’ve had a toe injury or have inherited a genetic tendency.
What are the symptoms of hammertoe?
When you have a hammertoe deformity, you may experience one or more of the following symptoms:
- Pain when wearing shoes (due to pressure on the bent toe)
- Corns and calluses
- Burning sensation
An untreated hammertoe gradually leads to permanent toe contracture.
How is hammertoe treated?
Early treatment for hammertoe can usually be accomplished without surgery. When the problem first develops, the bent toe is still flexible. At that stage, Dr. Hersh can treat it with conservative therapies such as:
- Splinting to realign the toe
- Orthotics to reduce pressure and restore muscle balance
- Exercises to stretch and strengthen muscles and tendons
- Orthopaedic shoes with a large toe box
- Injections or topical medications to reduce inflammation and alleviate pain
When your hammertoe isn’t treated at an early stage, the muscles become rigid and the toe gets stuck in its abnormal position. When this type of contracture develops, your only option is surgery to correct the problem.
Dr. Hersh may use several surgical techniques to straighten your toe. Depending on your condition, he may perform a bone fusion, a tendon transfer, or a joint resection.
To get expert treatment for hammertoe, call Ani Orthopaedics or schedule an appointment online today.
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