A hammertoe is a contracture, or shortening and rigidity, of the connective tissues in the smaller toes of either foot. The Institute for Preventive Foot Health states that about 7 million American adults have this condition and need treatment. At Clintonville/Dublin Foot & Ankle Group in Columbus, your podiatrists--Drs. Griffith, Thomas and Barron--see this progressive deformity all the time. They can help you have pain-free, functional feet again.
Causes and symptoms of hammertoes
Toes two through five can take on a claw- or mallet-like appearance--hence, the name hammertoes. Medically termed hallux abductovalgus, this painful problem crops up in women more than men, probably because of shoes with high heels and cramped toe boxes. Other causes are heredity, diabetic neuropathy, trauma and the simple wear and tear of the aging process.
As the problem progresses, the affected toe or toes stiffen, lose range of motion and can be very painful to walk on. Corn and callus formation adds to the discomfort as the toes rub against the inside of shoes.
Help for hammertoes
If your Columbus podiatrist examines and X-rays your feet early on in hammertoe development, he can more easily and successfully treat the condition without interventions such as cortisone injections or surgery (tendon release in the toe). Your foot doctor will develop a treatment plan to balance your muscles, bones, and connective tissues in the foot, allowing for more functional, free and comfortable movement of the toes.
Therefore, he likely will advise these interventions according to your specific needs:
- In-office removal of large and painful corns and calluses
- Corn and callus padding to reduce irritation
- Well-constructed foot wear with lower heels, sufficient room in the toes and proper arch support
- Custom-made shoe inserts (orthotics) to correct gait problems
- Splints to re-align the toe
- Over the counter pain medications
Many people who have a hammertoe also have a bunion, a bulging of the big toe joint and inward turning of the toe. Many of the same common sense measures which help hammertoes relieve the progression and discomfort of bunions, too.
Get some relief
At Clintonville/Dublin Foot & Ankle Group, your podiatrists and their professional team get people of all ages back on their feet and moving comfortably once again. If you are seeing and feeling changes in your foot structure, level of comfort and ability to move freely, call one of our three offices for a consultation. Hammertoes are just one of the many conditions we treat.
For Columbus, OH, phone (614) 267-8387. In Dublin, OH, call (614) 761-1466, and for the Southwest location, phone (614) 272-2313.