If there’s an imbalance between the muscles, ligaments, and tendons in your toes, you’re at an increased risk of developing hammer toes. Leon Stepensky, DPM, at Fit Feet Podiatry in Brighton Beach and East Williamsburg, Brooklyn, New York City, offers both conservative and surgical treatments to address this common problem. Make your appointment today by calling the office nearest you or clicking the online booking tool.
A hammertoe is a common foot deformity that prevents you from straightening one or more toes completely. If an imbalance in your toe muscles, tendons, or ligaments occurs, it causes your affected toe to bend in a hammerhead-like shape. Hammertoe can occur in any of your toes, but the second, third, and fourth toes are most commonly affected. Left untreated, a hammertoe may lead to a permanent deformity.
The most obvious sign of a hammertoe is an abnormal bend in one of the joints of your middle toes. You might also notice that wiggling the affected toe or putting pressure on it is painful. It’s also common for corns and calluses to form on toes affected by hammertoe.
Podiatrists aren’t entirely sure what causes hammertoes, but there are a few factors thought to play a role. For example, if you wear tight shoes such as high heels that feature a narrow toe box, you’re more likely to experience hammertoes. Other culprits include trauma–such as stubbing your toe or suffering a sports-related injury–and an abnormal balance of the toe muscles, which can cause your toe to contract.
Anyone can develop a hammertoe, but there are certain factors that can increase your risk, including:
You’re also more likely to develop a hammertoe if your second toe is longer than your big toe. If you have a bunion, it’s also possible to develop a hammertoe on the same foot.
Most hammertoes are visible to the naked eye. However, to confirm your diagnosis, Dr. Stepensky at Fit Feet Podiatry physically examines your foot, takes a series of X-rays, and asks you about the symptoms you’re experiencing.
Dr. Stepensky typically recommends conservative, noninvasive methods of treatment to relieve pain and discomfort caused by hammertoes. If you can still bend your affected toe, he might recommend wearing more comfortable, padded shoes that feature a larger toe box, custom orthotics, or splinting. He may also ask you to perform at-home exercises designed to strengthen your toe muscles and prevent further deterioration.
If conservative measures of treatment don’t provide significant relief, surgical intervention may be necessary. During hammertoe surgery, Dr. Stepensky releases the tendon that’s preventing your toe from lying flat.
Hammertoes are painful and unsightly, but they’re also relatively easy to treat. Book your appointment at Fit Feet Podiatry today by calling the office or clicking the online booking tool.