A hammer toe is a condition in which one or more toes bend downward at the joint. Most people who have hammertoe have bunions. This can cause pain and make it difficult to move your toe. If you have an Evergreen hammer toe, there are various treatment options to help your feet stay in shape. Here is what you need to learn about this condition.
Causes of hammer toe include:
- Wearing shoes that are too tight: If you tend to wear shoes that are too tight, you are putting unnecessary pressure on your toe joints. This can lead to a hammertoe.
- Arthritis: It is the inflammation of the joints. When arthritis affects the toe joints, it can cause the toes to bend. In the long run, this can lead to hammertoe.
- Nerve Damage: It can be from conditions such as diabetes that can lead to hammer toe.
The most common symptom of hammertoe is a bent toe. Other symptoms may include; pain when you walk, redness and swelling in the toe, trouble finding comfortable shoes, and calluses or corns on the top or the bottom of your foot.
Types of hammertoe
There are two types of hammertoe;
- Flexible hammertoe: It is considered a flexible hammertoe if you can still move your toe. This type of hammertoe generally doesn’t require surgery.
- Rigid hammertoe: If you cannot move your toe, it is considered a rigid hammertoe. This type of hammertoe usually does require surgery.
Despite the type of hammertoe you have, there are several treatment options.
When it comes to the flexible hammertoe, there are some options you may try before surgery.
- Wear low-heeled shoes with a wide-toe box. This can decrease pressure on your toe and prevent it from getting worse.
- Put padding on top of the toe to help relieve pain. You can do this yourself by using moleskin or other soft materials.
- Take over-the-counter medicine to reduce pain and inflammation. This includes ibuprofen or naproxen.
- Use ice to reduce swelling. Put an ice pack on the toe for 15 minutes twice a day.
Surgery may be an option when other treatments do not work or when you have a rigid hammertoe. The most common type of surgery is:
- Arthroplasty: In this procedure, the surgeon removes the damaged joint cartilage and replaces it with a tendon or artificial joint.
- Arthrodesis: It is also called fusion surgery. The surgeon permanently connects bone to the bone using metal implants.
- Tendon release: This procedure is done to relieve pressure on tendons. The surgeon will make a small incision and release the tendon.
- Severing the bone: This procedure relieves pressure on the joint. Your surgeon will make a small cut to remove a portion of the bone.
After surgery, you must wear a cast or splint for six to eight weeks until your toe heals.
You can do simple exercises to stretch and strengthen your toe muscles. Gently tug on the affected toe with your hand for several seconds. Then, point your toe forward and flex it downward for five seconds. Repeat this exercise 10 times. You should exercise a few times each day.
If you are experiencing any pain in your toe, it is recommended that you consult with your doctor at Rocky Mountain Foot and Ankle Center to discuss the best treatment options for you.