A joint-muscle imbalance can bend a toe, causing a condition known as hammer toe. The toe may bend at one or several joints and the middle of the toe may get pushed up into a claw-like position. It may appear to be injured or disfigured. Hammer toe often occurs in the second toe, although any of the four small toes can be affected.
If you suffer from hammer toe, it is necessary to consult with a medical professional. Without intervention, the situation can worsen. The patient has a better chance to improve the deformity the sooner treatment is started.
What Causes Hammer Toe?
Genetics are one of many factors leading to the condition. However, the main cause of hammer toe is due to inequalities in muscle and tendon strength. Over time, the deformity affects the muscles and tendons controlling movement and the toe becomes stiff. Hammer toe is common in people with highly arched feet and bunions. Bunions force the big toe to bend inwards, elevating and deforming the second toe. Sometimes, the ligament (plantar plate) holding the toe in position gets damaged (disrupted or torn) and the toe bends upward at the joint.
Risk of hammer toe increases for individuals who wear high heels or other poorly-fitting shoes. Children and adults who wear shoes that are too small are also at risk.
Hammer Toe Symptoms
Symptoms include problems walking and injuries such as calluses, sore, and blisters. Persistent friction at the joint causes pain in the affected toe, making it difficult to wear certain shoes.
Hammer Toe Albuquerque
Our doctors at the Foot and Ankle Specialists of New Mexico carefully observe every possibility and diagnose the root cause of your problem. They examine the toe to identify the affected area causing the deformity and its overall flexibility. X-rays are sometimes used to determine the extent of contracture.
Non-Invasive Treatment Options
Non-invasive treatment does not correct the deformity but eases pain. Relief from these treatments can be effective enough that surgery is not necessary. Many patients find relief from:
- Better Footwear: A wide-toe shoe or footwear with higher volume reduces friction between toes.
- Strapping and Toe Braces: Strapping techniques and toe braces can relieve pressure put on toes from walking or exercising.
- Custom Orthotics: Custom-made orthotics redistribute pressure on the tendons and reduce the pain. Often this can help prevent the deformity from worsening.
- Callus Control: Shaving off calluses on the toe and ball of the foot can diminish pain. However, they typically reappear with time.
Hammer Toe – Surgical Treatment Options
Surgical correction returns the toe to its original position, increasing its flexibility and functionality. It is a simple outpatient procedure only requiring limited downtime.
Fusing the Toe
Your best option is to fuse the affected toe straight. This eliminates future surgeries and any reappearance of the deformity. The foot doctors at the Foot and Ankle Specialists of New Mexico – Albuquerque use a small screw or a new absorbable pin so that a metal pin does not bulge from the toe during recovery. While the absorbable pin is more comfortable, it cannot be used in all cases.
Hammer Toe Deformity Removal (Arthroplasty)
Removing of a small piece of the bone in the affected region will reduce pain and does not require a lengthy recovering process. While fusion treatment guarantees more stability, arthroplasty offers a good alternative.
Why Choose Foot and Ankle Specialists of New Mexico for Hammer Toe Treatment?
At Foot and Ankle Specialists of New Mexico, we have revolutionized the surgical treatment for hammer toe. Protruding pins can cause infection and rigid fixation so our doctors prefer an absorbable pin or a small screw. These offer faster healing as well as early weight bearing.
At Foot and Ankle Specialists of New Mexico – Albuquerque, we put the patient first. Call us at (505) 219-2940 to schedule a consultation and to discuss your treatment options.