Why Choose Cedars-Sinai Marina del Rey Hospital for Hammertoe Treatment?
Hammertoe can be extremely uncomfortable. If not treated properly, the condition may worsen to the point where standing and walking can become painful and in extreme cases, cause foot deformity. At Cedars-Sinai Marina del Rey Hospital, our specialists are experienced in diagnosing and treating hammertoe. Our well-trained team of specialists provides patients with guidance and advice to make the best treatment choices to get back on their feet.
Hammertoe is a deformity of one or more of the middle three toes, caused by muscle and/or ligament problems that force the middle joint of the toes into a bent, hammer-like shape. The condition may not be painful itself, however, footwear may perpetuate discomfort and cause pain.
Treatment for Hammertoe
There are several things you could do to correct hammertoe or relieve the discomfort it causes:
- Wear comfortable shoes that have a wide enough toe box to fit the full length of your toes
- If you must wear high heels, limit the time and the height of the heels
- Wear hammertoe pads that can relieve some of the pressure on the hammertoe or seek a custom-made pad recommended by a podiatrist
- Ice the hammertoe when it becomes painful; however, be aware that this is not a long-term solution
- Physical therapy and doctor-recommended exercises can stretch the muscles and help unbend the toe
- Surgery will remove a small section of bone and the surgeon will realign your bones
Drugs for Hammertoe
- Use anti-inflammatory medicine to relieve pain
- Cortisone shots may be recommended by your doctor if you are in acute pain
Symptoms of Hammertoe
- The distinctive shape of the bent toe
- Toe pain occurs when the shoes are rigid
- The toe becomes red and swollen
- Moving the joint causes pain
Diagnosis of Hammertoe
A doctor can correctly do a differential diagnosis and make sure your condition is a hammertoe rather than, for instance, gout. A doctor can also provide indications for the correct treatment of your condition.
Risk Factors for Hammertoe
- Bunions can force the big toe into the other toes and create a domino-like effect, causing one toe to bend up to fit into the toe box of your regular shoes
- Ill-fitting shoes that force the foot into unnatural positions may cause one toe to slide up into this hammertoe position, and repetitive wear of these ill-fitting shoes will lock this toe into position. Women are more prone to hammertoes because they wear pointy shoes or high heels that cause this imbalance
Causes of Hammertoe
- Genes can predispose you to this condition because of an imbalance in your foot, whether because of fallen arches or high arches.
- Arthritis is another major cause of hammertoes, locking your toe into a rigid bent position.
- Aging is causing more imbalance in your foot and weakens the joints so that hammertoes are more easily formed.
- Muscle damage or nerve damage in your feet can shorten the nerves and cause hammertoes.
The best way to treat a hammertoe, as discussed above, is to wear comfortable shoes that fit well. Alternative treatment for the incipient stage of a hammertoe may include:
Most often, hammertoe can be easily prevented:
- Wear comfortable shoes. This means a large enough toe box and enough support for the arch. It also means you need to accommodate your longest toe and longest foot. Be aware that one foot may be slightly longer than the other, and some toes may be longer than the others; choose shoes that fit not the average length, but the longest toe of your longest foot.
- Choose shoes that will fit when your feet are slightly swollen, as they normally are at the end of the day.
- Do not stick to the same size if it no longer feels comfortable. Foot size changes over the years even in adults, because of age and certain types of jobs and activities.
- Do not sit down for too long without stretching or raising your legs, to ensure good circulation.
- Pay attention to foot problems early on, especially if you have diabetes or other conditions that affect blood circulation.
- Do not wear very high heels, or do not wear high heels for too long.