Everyone’s feet look a little different. Some people’s toes are longer, and some toes don’t stick straight out from the foot. That could leave you thinking your toe bend is normal. But if you have a toe that bends at the middle joint, even when your foot is relaxed, you could be living with a hammertoe.
While a hammertoe might not seem problematic at first, the issue can worsen — eventually causing persistent foot discomfort — if it’s left untreated. That’s why Christopher Vittori, DPM, Ameet Thakrar, DPM, and the team at Vittori Foot & Ankle Specialist provide hammertoe diagnosis and care at our offices in Homer Glen and New Lenox, Illinois.
To help you determine if it’s time to visit us about your toe, let’s look at the key characteristics of this condition.
The ligaments, tendons, and muscles in your toes should allow them to lie flat when your foot is at rest. But if there’s an imbalance in any of these soft tissues, your toe can bend at the middle joint. At first, this might not cause you any issues.
Left untreated, though, a hammertoe can worsen. As your toe tendons continue to contract, your bend will get more noticeable — and harder to treat. Eventually, you could be left with a toe that rubs against the top of all of your shoes, causing you discomfort with each step you take. And even wiggling the toe out of shoes could be difficult and painful.
The good news is that hammertoes are treatable. And if you come to see Dr. Thakrar and Dr. Vittori early enough, they may be able to eradicate the issue entirely.
Treating a hammertoe
Diagnosing a hammertoe usually starts with taking an X-ray. This allows us to see how far your hammertoe has progressed so we can tailor the best treatment plan for you.
In its early stages, a hammertoe can often be treated with extremely conservative measures like switching to shoes with a roomier toe box. Other treatments we may recommend include:
- Targeted stretches to help lengthen the tendons in your toe
- Taping and strapping to retrain the connective tissues
- Specialized padding and/or supportive orthotic inserts for your shoes
If your hammertoe doesn’t respond to these treatments, Dr. Vittori or Dr. Thakrar may recommend surgery. Fortunately, hammertoe surgery can be performed as a minimally invasive procedure, minimizing your risks and downtime.
Ultimately, if you notice an abnormal bend in the middle joint of any of your toes, it could be a hammertoe. For early treatment to prevent it from becoming a serious issue, call Vittori Foot & Ankle Specialist or schedule an appointment online today.