David E Biss, DPM
Podiatrist located in Concord, NH & Plymouth, NH
A toe that stays bent when it would normally lie flat is indicative of hammertoe, a common foot deformity. David Biss, DPM, performs surgical and nonsurgical treatment for hammertoes at two Concord Podiatry locations in Concord and Plymouth, New Hampshire. Hammertoes are easiest to treat in their early stages. Call the office nearest you or request an appointment online today.
What is a hammertoe?
A hammertoe is an abnormal bend, also known as a contracture, that affects the middle joint of a toe. Hammertoes occur in the second, third, fourth, or fifth (pinky) toes. These toes have three joints, while the big toe has only two.
Mallet toe is a similar condition that occurs when the contracture affects the joint closest to the toenail.
What symptoms occur with hammertoes?
Usually, a hammertoe starts as a mild deformity. In the early stages, the bent joint stays flexible, and you may be able to relieve symptoms with simple, non-invasive measures like changing footwear and using orthotics.
However, if the condition progresses without treatment, a hammertoe can become rigid — stuck in a bent position. Wearing shoes and walking may become painful, and friction from footwear can lead to corns and calluses on your toe.
What causes hammertoes?
Hammertoes result from a muscle imbalance that puts stress on the toe joint.
One of the leading causes of this type of muscle imbalance is wearing shoes that narrow toward the forefoot and push the toes into a curled position. Wearing high-heeled shoes places additional pressure on the toes by forcing the foot down into the toe box.
Injuries such as stubbed, jammed, or broken toes can increase your chances of developing hammertoes.
Some people inherit a foot structure that’s naturally prone to hammertoes.
How are hammertoes diagnosed and treated?
First, Dr. Biss examines your toe to determine if the joint is flexible or rigid. He may order imaging studies, like an X-ray, to confirm a diagnosis and evaluate the extent of the deformity.
Then, Dr. Biss creates an individualized treatment plan. Flexible hammertoes typically resolve with nonsurgical treatments like:
- Changes in footwear
- Padding corns or calluses
- Orthotic devices
- Splinting or strapping the toe
- Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen
- Corticosteroid injections
- Stretching and strengthening exercises
If the hammertoe is rigid, or if nonsurgical treatments don’t relieve your symptoms, Dr. Biss may recommend surgery. Surgical treatment for hammertoes may involve tendon lengthening, tendon transfer, or joint fusion.
For expert care of hammertoes and mallet toes, call Concord Podiatry, or book an appointment online today.