Hammertoe Repair Specialist

What’s a Hammer Toe?

A hammer toe is a common foot deformity characterized by an abnormal bending of the toe joint. Typically affecting the second, third, or fourth toe, it can result from a combination of genetic predisposition, ill-fitting footwear, and muscle or tendon imbalances. The name “hammer toe” is derived from the toe’s resemblance to a hammer’s head, as it bends downward at the middle joint and then curls up at the end, creating a hammer-like shape.

The condition can cause discomfort, pain, and difficulty walking, especially when left untreated. In some cases, corns and calluses may develop on the affected toe due to friction and pressure against shoes. Early intervention, which may include wearing properly fitted footwear, using orthotic devices, and physical therapy, can help manage the symptoms and prevent the condition from worsening. In severe cases, surgery might be necessary to correct the deformity and alleviate pain. If you suspect you have a hammer toe, consult a healthcare professional for an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment options.

What Causes a Hammer Toe?

Hammer toes are a common foot condition characterized by the abnormal bending of one or more toe joints. Several factors contribute to the development of hammer toes, including:

Genetics: A family history of hammer toes can increase the risk of developing the condition, suggesting a genetic predisposition.
Foot Structure: Some individuals have naturally flatter feet or longer second toes, making them more susceptible to hammer toes
Footwear: Wearing shoes that are too tight, narrow, or high-heeled can force the toes into an unnatural position, leading to the development of hammer toes.
Muscle and Tendon Imbalances: Imbalances in the muscles and tendons of the feet can cause toe joints to become misaligned.
Injury: Trauma or injury to the toes can result in hammer toe development.
Arthritis: Conditions like osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis can affect the toe joints and contribute to hammer toes.

Understanding these causes can help individuals take preventive measures, such as wearing comfortable, well-fitted shoes and addressing muscle imbalances through exercises and physical therapy, to reduce the risk of developing hammer toes.

Hammer Toe Symptoms

Hammer toe symptoms are easy to spot. It’s when your toe bends and looks like a little hammer. This can make your toe hurt, especially when you wear tight shoes. Sometimes, you might get bumps or rough spots on your toe, called corns or calluses. Finding comfy shoes can be hard, and your toe might not move as well. Sometimes, your toe might also swell or look red. If you see these things happening to your toe, it’s important to see a doctor. They can help make your toe feel better and prevent it from getting worse.

How is a Hammer Toe Diagnosed?

Diagnosing a hammer toe typically involves a physical examination by a healthcare provider. During the examination, the doctor assesses the toe’s appearance and range of motion. They may also inquire about symptoms and medical history. In some cases, X-rays can help assess the severity of the condition or rule out other foot problems. Based on the examination findings, the healthcare provider can make a proper diagnosis and recommend suitable treatment options to address the hammer toe.

Non-invasive Hammer Toe Treatment Options

Hammer toes, characterized by an abnormal bending of the toe joints, can be a source of discomfort and pain. Fortunately, there are several non-invasive treatment options available to help manage this condition and improve the quality of life for those affected.

Better Footwear: One of the most straightforward ways to alleviate hammer toe discomfort is by choosing well-fitted, comfortable shoes with a wide toe box. Avoid high heels and tight footwear, as they can exacerbate the condition.
Toe Braces and Strapping: Toe braces or splints can help straighten and align the toes, reducing the bending associated with hammer toes. These devices are typically worn inside shoes and may improve toe position over time. Strapping can also temporarily realign the toe to provide relief.
Padding Your Corns and Calluses: To reduce friction and pressure, use soft padding, like felt or silicone cushions, on the tops of the bent joints or over any corns and calluses. This minimizes pain when wearing shoes and walking.
Custom Orthotics: Orthotic insoles, customized to your foot’s shape, can help distribute pressure more evenly and provide better arch support, reducing the impact of hammer toes.
Callus Control: Regular use of over-the-counter callus softening products can help manage any corns or calluses that have developed due to hammer toes. This can ease discomfort and make walking more comfortable.
Use Foot Rollers: Foot rollers are simple devices that can help improve foot flexibility and reduce muscle tightness. Rolling your foot over one of these tools can provide relief and help with overall foot health.

These non-invasive treatment options are effective for managing hammer toes, especially when the condition is diagnosed early. However, it’s essential to consult a healthcare professional or a podiatrist before beginning any treatment regimen. They can provide personalized advice, recommend the most suitable options, and monitor your progress to ensure the best outcomes. In some cases, a combination of these treatments may be the most effective approach to relieve pain and prevent the condition from worsening.

Surgical Treatment Options for a Hammer Toe

When conservative treatments fail to alleviate the discomfort and pain associated with a hammer toe, surgical intervention may become necessary. Several surgical approaches aim to correct the deformity and provide lasting relief.

Fusing the Toe: One common surgical method for addressing hammer toe involves fusing the affected joint. During this procedure, the surgeon removes a portion of the bone to straighten the toe, then uses pins, screws, or other hardware to secure the joint in its corrected position. This helps maintain the toe’s alignment.
PEEK Implant System: Another innovative surgical technique employs the use of PEEK (Polyether Ether Ketone) implant systems. PEEK implants are strong, biocompatible materials that are inserted into the toe joint to realign the bone, ultimately correcting the hammer toe deformity. This method is known for its durability and the potential to offer long-term relief.
OSSIOfiber® All-natural Implant: For individuals seeking more natural options, the OSSIOfiber® implant system offers an intriguing alternative. These implants are made from a unique bioresorbable material that integrates with the body’s bone tissue over time. OSSIOfiber® implants can be used to realign the affected joint without the need for permanent hardware, making it a more tissue-friendly solution.
Removing the Hammer Toe Deformity: In certain cases, the surgeon may opt to remove the deformed joint altogether. This is typically followed by the fusion of adjacent joints. While this approach may limit flexibility in the toe, it can effectively eliminate the hammer toe deformity and associated pain.

It’s crucial to note that surgical treatments for hammer toes come with potential risks and downtime. Patients should consult with a qualified podiatric surgeon to determine the most appropriate surgical approach for their specific condition. The choice of procedure will depend on factors such as the severity of the deformity, the patient’s overall health, and their preferences for long-term outcomes.

Following surgery, physical therapy and post-operative care are essential for a successful recovery. These treatments help restore functionality and reduce the risk of complications. By carefully considering the available surgical options and working closely with a healthcare professional, individuals can make informed decisions about their hammer toe treatment, ultimately improving their foot health and quality of life.

Benefits of Hammertoe Surgery

Hammertoe surgery offers significant benefits for individuals struggling with this painful condition. By correcting the toe’s misalignment and deformity, surgery can alleviate discomfort, improve foot function, and enhance overall quality of life. This procedure allows patients to regain the ability to wear a wider range of footwear, reducing the limitations imposed by the condition. Furthermore, addressing hammertoes surgically can prevent the development of complications, such as chronic pain, corns, and calluses, ultimately promoting better foot health and mobility, making daily activities more comfortable and enjoyable.

Hammer Toe Surgery Recovery

Recovery after hammer toe surgery typically involves a brief period of rest and foot elevation. Patients may wear a special shoe or cast to protect the operated toe. Full recovery can take a few weeks, depending on the specific procedure. Physical therapy may be recommended to regain strength and mobility.

Why Choose Apex Foot & Ankle Institute
for Hammer Toe Treatment?

Choosing Apex Foot & Ankle Institute for hammer toe treatment ensures expert care and exceptional outcomes. Our experienced team of podiatrists specializes in diagnosing and treating various foot conditions, including hammer toes, using the latest techniques and technologies. We offer personalized treatment plans, from conservative options to surgical interventions, ensuring patients receive the most suitable care. Our commitment to patient well-being, coupled with a history of successful outcomes, makes us a trusted choice for those seeking relief from hammer toe discomfort.