Hammertoes are a common foot condition in which one or both toe joints is contracted. The toes can become stiff and painful and usually has an unsightly corn associated with it. A hammertoe can be diagnosed by the doctors at City Podiatry during your physical examination. Type of shoe gear, genetics and daily foot pressure are the most common risk factors that contribute to hammertoes.
Hammertoes tend to worsen with age, are progressive and do not go away by themselves. Some may progress quicker or become more contracted than others. The size or the degree of the contracture is not always indicative of pain level, however. Each hammertoe is different and should be treated accordingly.
Hammertoes are often associated with other foot conditions like cavus or high arched feet and pes planus or flat feet. Arch height can determine the pressure and body weight that is transferred across your your foot when walking or standing which can lead to the toes becoming progressively more crooked. There are also less common disorders that can cause hammertoes like: strokes, herniated discs in the back, arthritis and neurological disorders.
Details about your symptoms will be asked during your office visit by your podiatrist.
These life style questions can typically include:
- What type of shoes do you generally wear and for how long do you generally them?
- What type of job do you have and are you restricted to wearing a certain type of shoe?
- How much time do you typically stand or walk during the day?
- How active are you? Do you exercise regularly? What types of activity to you participate in and enjoy?
During your examination at City Podiatry the doctor may try to reproduce the symptoms by palpating the foot and looking at the position and contracture of your toes. The doctor may also perform a biomechanical examination. During a biomechanical exam a patient is evaluated while standing and also when walking a few steps with and without shoes to verify if the hammertoe affects the way a patient’s body weight is distributed across the foot and toes.
Hammertoes may be classified as being flexible, semi flexible or rigid. Flexibility or rigidity often can dictate the type of hammertoe treatment that will be recommended. X-rays are often taken and help determine how flexible or rigid a hammertoe is and will determine if there is arthritis, bone spurs or any bony pathology associated with the deformity. Flexible hammertoes can be manipulated easily into a straight position and several non surgical treatment options are available. Semi flexible and rigid hammertoes is when the toe cannot be manipulated into a straight position. The top of the toe knuckle is contracted, rubs against the top of the shoe and a build up of dead skin or corn develops. These corns can become inflammed and cause redness, unsightly swelling, and pain. Hammertoes can also cause painful corns to develop in between the toes as well. These types of deformities may eventually require hammertoe correction surgery.