A hammer toe is a contracture of one or both of the joints in the lesser toes. Hammertoes usually start out as mild deformities and get progressively worse over time. In the early stages, hammertoes are often flexible and the symptoms can often be managed with non-invasive treatments. But if left untreated, hammertoes can become more rigid and will not respond to non-surgical treatment.
What Causes Hammertoes?
Although hammertoes are readily apparent, to understand why they have developed will require an examination by a podiatrist. The physician will likely take x-rays, perform a range of motion exam and possibly a gait analysis to observe how you walk. Hammertoes are progressive, and the rate they progress will be determined by the cause. Once your physician determines what is causing the deformity, a treatment plan can be developed that is suited to your needs.
When Is Hammertoe Surgery Needed?
Often patients with hammertoes have bunions or other foot deformities that can be corrected at the same time. In selecting the appropriate procedure(s) for your particular case, your podiatrist will take into consideration the extent of your deformity, the number of toes involved, your age and activity level. The length of recovery will depend upon the procedure performed, but usually involves wearing a post-operative shoe for one to two months.
Hammertoes will not resolve without intervention, and most of them progress in severity over time. If you have painful hammertoes, call and schedule an appointment with one of our physicians to determine the cause and the best course of treatment.