Auteur: Podiatre Montreal
Hammer Toe Treatment
Have you noticed that your toes have become significantly deformed? Then you may suspect a hammertoe problem: a condition common in both men and women.
Since there are several causes for this joint deformity, the history of the problem is the first thing to consider. Straightening hammertoes is still possible, but the approach must be adapted to this history, as well as to the level of deformity.
Your Podiatrist will ask you the right questions to validate the causes and inform you about the solutions that exist to straighten a toe that has been affected. Depending on your case and the results of his examination, he will be able to prescribe various alternatives, ranging from natural treatment for the hammertoe, to surgery – in more advanced cases.
What are hammer toes
Toe deformity is caused by a curvature or contracture at the interphalangeal joint. Although all toes can be affected, the most affected are the second and fifth toes.
From natural treatment to surgical treatment, hammertoe straightening has a favourable prognosis when a suitable treatment plan is prescribed. The one favored by your Podiatrist depends on the type of deformity diagnosed.
3 TYPES OF TOE DEFORMATION
This is the most advanced form of toe deformity. However, it is still possible to straighten the toe with a hammer. The pain brought on by this condition is often significant for the patient who suffers from it, since it results from friction between the shoe tissue and the protrusion of the joint deformity. At this stage, it is strongly recommended not to wait any longer before consulting. In most cases, the pain is so incapacitating that a consultation becomes imminent. Pain medication is then no longer as effective, and the Patient considers hammertoe straightening as the only solution. In many cases, surgery is proposed as the only treatment option.
The second most frequent toe deformity is the claw toe, which also causes enough discomfort to make the client need to consult a Podiatrist. Straightening a claw toe may be possible through surgery and other more conventional types of treatment, such as claw toe straightening. The typical pain of this joint imbalance is located above the toes. It is accompanied by corns on the toe, as well as a thickening of the nail: two characteristic elements sought during the diagnostic examination.
In this case, it is only the tip of the toe that is bent. Localized corns can also be observed. The mallet toe is rarer than the claw toe and the hammer toe, and often requires only a simple home treatment, such as a toe straightener (there is also a small toe straightener specially adapted for the latter). The pain is more subtle and surgery is not necessary.
Symptoms and causes of hammertoes
The symptoms of hammertoe, even if they are painful, can nevertheless be tolerated for several months (or even years) by the Patient. However, the case continues to worsen, sometimes causing irreversible damage to the affected toe. In this case, it is impossible to straighten the toe with a home treatment such as toe straightener: surgery becomes essential to restore a normal position and eliminate the pain.
- pain in the front of the foot
- pain at the top of the joint
- corns formation
- swelling and redness
- reduced mobility
- Pain in the sole of the foot (metatarsalgia)
The causes may vary from one case to another, but the most common causes identified in the clinic are heredity, muscle imbalance, or a biomechanical, neurological or degenerative disorder. The treatment to straighten the claw toe or hammer toe is always based on the evaluation of the causes to eliminate the symptoms for good. This is also what allows your Podiatrist to make personalized recommendations to optimize the treatment.
Hammer Toe Treatments
Depending on the case presented, the Podiatrist can identify homemade treatments for the hammer toe. Since these are not systematically effective from one person to another presenting the same case, a consultation in a podiatry clinic is recommended before choosing a homemade treatment solution yourself. Here are a few examples of possible solutions :
- Self-adhesive cushion around the bone prominence
- Wearing foot orthotics
- Wear loose and flexible shoes (avoid heels)
- Manual therapy and exercises
- Gel pads
If these treatments do not eliminate the pain or stop the progression of the deformity, surgery is required.
When to consult a Podiatrist for hammertoes
When your daily activities are hindered by a claw toe or hammer toe problem, it’s time to consult a Podiatrist. It is when the pain persists and is not treated that more serious problems may appear, such as stiffening of the joint, making any treatment other than surgery more laborious.
Your Podiatrist will be able to prescribe medication to relieve your pain, as well as an adapted treatment plan for the hammer toe, claw toe and mallet toe.2021