it’s important to spot the telltale signs of a hammertoe before it gets worse.
A hammertoe is actually a common foot deformity that typically affects the middle joint of the smaller toes. Our West Orange, NJ, podiatrists believe it’s important for people to recognize the early signs of a hammertoe so that they can seek proper treatment to prevent the condition from getting worse.
What is a hammertoe?
A hammertoe causes the toes to curve downward, resembling a claw. Of course, this problem occurs over time, so it won’t cause significant changes in your toes right away. In the very beginning, you may only notice that the toes only slightly curve downwards; however, this deformity can get worse if not properly cared for.
What causes hammertoes?
Many people develop them because there is some sort of structural imbalance or abnormality in the foot that affects the muscles and tendons. As a result, this imbalance pulls at the toe, altering their shape. While they may not seem to cause you problems in the very beginning, hammertoes can become immobile. Severe hammertoes can also cause pain, stiffness and difficulty walking.
What are the signs and symptoms of a hammertoe?
Along with the obvious changes in the overall shape of your toes you may also notice,
- A corn or callus develops on the bent joint of the toe
- Pain or discomfort when wearing shoes
- Swelling, inflammation or burning in the affected toes
If you have nerve damage or diabetes and you notice any of these symptoms it’s particularly important that you turn to our West Orange, NJ, board-certified podiatrist for immediate medical attention.
What are some ways to treat a hammertoe?
When you come in for your initial evaluation, we will usually be able to diagnose your hammertoe through a simple physical exam; however, we may need to take imaging tests to determine the severity.
Based on the severity of your hammertoe, we will then determine the best course of action for managing your symptoms. For milder cases, the goals of treatment are to manage symptoms and to prevent the deformity from getting worse. Treatments may include,
- Non-medicated protective padding (to prevent corns and calluses from forming)
- Prescription orthotics (shoe inserts)
- Medications (pain relievers; anti-inflammatories)
- Properly fitted footwear with wide toe boxes
- Toe and foot exercises
If the hammertoe is rigid and causing serious discomfort, then your podiatrist may recommend surgery to correct the deformity.
If you are faced with foot pain, changes in the overall shape or structure of your feet or noticing any hard bumps or deformities it’s important that you turn to your podiatrist here in West Orange, NJ, for care. Foot Health Center also offers telemedicine visits. Call us today at (973) 731-1266 to schedule an in-person or online appointment.