Hammertoes: Diagnosis and Treatment

Last week we discussed the signs and symptoms of hammertoes. Our doctors at Ankle N Foot Center can help alleviate the pain. Treatment options will vary with type and severity of each hammertoe, although identifying the deformity early in its development is important to avoid surgery. An Ankle N Foot Center podiatrist will examine and X-ray the affected area and recommend a treatment plan specific to your condition.

Picture of hammertoes

Padding and Taping: Often padding and taping are the first steps in a treatment plan. Padding the hammer toe prominence minimizes pain and allows the patient to continue a normal, active life. Taping may change the imbalance around the toes and thus relieve the stress and pain.

Medication: Anti-inflammatory drugs and cortisone injections can be prescribed to ease acute pain and inflammation caused by the joint deformity.

Orthotic Devices: Custom shoe inserts made by your podiatrist may be useful in controlling foot function. An orthotic device may reduce symptoms and prevent the worsening of the hammer toe deformity.

Surgical Options: Several surgical procedures are available to the podiatrist. For less severe deformities, the surgery will remove the bony prominence and restore normal alignment of the toe joint, thus relieving pain. Severe hammertoes, which are not fully reducible, may require more complex surgical procedures.
Recuperation takes time, and some swelling and discomfort are common for several weeks following surgery. Any pain, however, is easily managed with medications prescribed by your podiatrist.
 
Prevention
There are several things you can do to help prevent hammertoes from forming or progressing:

  • Wear supportive shoes to help prevent deformities. Hammertoes are often related to faulty foot mechanics, especially foot flattening.
  • Wear custom orthotics prescribed by your podiatrist. Orthotics may slow the progression or prevent the development of hammer toes.
  • Avoid shoes with narrow or pointed toe boxes that can compress the toes.