Hammertoe, along with mallet toe, are common foot deformities that a skilled podiatric specialist can easily treat. Anthony Tickner, DPM, and Steven Quan, DPM, of Associated Foot Specialists in Holden and Hudson, Massachusetts, have the training and experience needed to correct these types of foot issues and relieve the pain they cause. Begin your path toward relief today by booking a visit online or by phone.
Hammertoe is the term used to describe a deformity of the middle joint of your second, third, or fourth toe. When the deformed joint is the one closest to your toenail, the condition is called mallet toe.
These conditions were named to represent the shape your toe takes on when the bones in the affected joints shift out of position. The toes will rise into an abnormal hump shape on the top, often rubbing against your shoes.
Numerous things can cause the bones in your toes to shift out of optimal alignment, causing the joint to bulge in an upward position. The shoes you wear are one of the most common causes. Shoes that are tight in the toe box squeeze your toes together, causing one or more toes to curl to make room.
An abnormal balance of your muscle tissue in the toes can also cause a joint deformity. Poor muscle balance leads to instability in the foot and toes, leading your toe muscles to contract and pull the joint upward.
A traumatic injury can also lead to hammertoe or mallet toe. Even something as simple as stubbing your toe on a piece of furniture can be enough to distort the joint.
It’s important to see a podiatrist if you notice changes in the shape of your feet or toes. Left untreated, hammertoe and mallet toe will often progress.
In the early stages, these types of joint deformities are still flexible. At this point, you may be able to correct the problem with conservative treatment options.
Begin by changing the types of shoes you wear. Make sure your shoes have plenty of room in the toe area for your toes to lie flat without being compressed together. Custom shoe orthotics can help by changing the distribution of weight as you walk.
Simple exercises can help by stretching and strengthening your toe muscles. Your specialist shows you how to practice picking up small objects with your toes to give them a bit of a workout.
If the affected joint is no longer flexible, surgical intervention may be the only way to correct the problem. Your podiatrist surgically releases the tendon that’s preventing your toe from lying flat. Tendons can also be moved from the bottom side of your toe to the top, which pulls the toe into proper positioning.
In some cases, a small portion of bone needs to be removed to allow the toe to lie fully flat. A type of joint fusion surgery is also an option. All of these procedures are done on an outpatient basis, so you’ll be able to return home the same day.
If you’d like more information about diagnostics or treatment for these types of joint deformities, call to set up a personalized visit. Online booking is also available.