Even though the human body may need help sometimes, it has a remarkable ability to heal itself and fix problems that arise. Whereas there are many issues your body will take care of—whether on its own volition or with assistance—certain conditions cannot be reversed without using surgery. In fact, some of these progressive conditions will only continue to worsen over time when left untreated.
Hammertoe is an example of progressive condition that will not become better without professional care. Fortunately, if you (or a loved one) develop this toe deformity, Dr. Mark Gasparini and Dr. Novneet Chhabra can provide the treatment you need. Earlier intervention is always best, so make sure you schedule an appointment at the earliest possible opportunity.
Recognizing Hammertoe (and Related Conditions)
Since hammertoe does not get better on its own, you need to have it treated professionally. The first step in receiving care, of course, is to be aware of an existing problem. In this case, the condition is fairly easy to recognize.
Hammertoe is marked by an abnormal bend in one of the smaller toes. Most often, but not always, the affected toe is the one right next to the big toe. The abnormal bend happens in the middle toe joint, which causes the toe to look a bit like a hammer (thus, the condition’s name).
There are actually two related conditions worth noting – mallet toe and claw toe.
Mallet toe is much like hammertoe (abnormal bend, most common in the second toe), except the bend happens in the joint closest to the tip of the toe. With claw toe, all four of the smaller toes are affected and there are three abnormal bends (an upwards bend at the base of the toe and downwards bends at the middle and top joints). As with hammertoe, both of these deformities are progressive.
It is worth noting that an acute injury to the plantar plate ligament—a connective tissue beneath the second toe—can also lead to abnormal bending in the toe. This particular injury may actually heal on its own, but this isn’t always the case. Naturally, the best course of action when observing anything out of the ordinary in a toe or foot is to come see Foot Specialists of Long Island. We will accurately diagnose the problem and then create a treatment
plan to resolve it for you.
With regards to hammertoe treatment, there are a couple of different potential objectives – relieve symptoms, halt progression, and correct the toe. Depending on the severity of your case, and degree of flexibility in the toe, we may be able to relieve symptoms and keep the condition from worsening via conservative treatment options.
Nonsurgical care for hammertoe (and related conditions) can include:
- Changes in footwear. You may be able to find additional comfort by wearing shoes that feature wide, deep toe boxes.
- Medication. Depending on your case, we might recommend or prescribe medication to relieve pain and inflammation. Oral, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) tend to be particularly effective for addressing symptoms.
- Injection therapy. Along with medication, this is another option for easing pain and inflammation from the deformity.
- Padding. Hammertoe comes with increased risk of corns and calluses, especially on the ball of the foot and between toes. Sometimes pads are prescribed to protect corns from irritation. It’s important not to use medicated over-the-counter pads, since they can contain acid that might cause damage.
- Orthotic devices. Custom orthotics can control imbalance between muscles and tendons (the root cause of the problem).
Our hope is to be able to treat your hammertoe with conservative methods. If the condition is severe and has been a problem for a long time, we may recommend surgery. Surgical procedures are the only way to actually correct the condition so the toe will lie flat (as is normal).
Professional Hammertoe Care
Our medical team at Foot Specialists of Long Island provides comprehensive medical treatment for foot and ankle issues, including toe deformities like hammertoe. Seeking treatment early is always the best option for any medical problem, and especially when a condition is progressive. If you or a loved one has developed hammertoe (or claw or mallet toe), contact our Nassau County podiatrist office by calling (516) 804-9038. If you’d prefer, you can also connect with us online right now!