Hammertoe describes an abnormal bend in a toe’s middle joint. Without treatment, hammertoe can worsen so much as to require surgery. At Union Podiatry, with offices in Baltimore and Towson, Maryland, John Senatore, DPM, provides nonsurgical and surgical treatment for patients with hammertoe. Call today to make your appointment or use the online tool to schedule your visit.

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What is hammertoe?

When your middle joint bends or contracts unusually, it is likely hammertoe. Hammertoe usually affects your second, third, or fourth toes. The contracture puts your foot in an unusual position that can cause pain or discomfort while wearing shoes, walking, or running.

Mild cases of hammertoe can be reversed with shoe changes and custom orthotic inserts. With time, the abnormal bend in your toe joint becomes inflexible, and only toe surgery can correct it.

What causes hammertoe?

A collection of muscles, ligaments, and tendons usually hold your toes straight. When this tissue becomes imbalanced, hammertoe can result. If you regularly wear shoes that are narrow or tight in the toe box, hammertoe is more likely to develop.

Other factors that contribute to hammertoe include:

  • Aging
  • Prior foot trauma, like a broken toe
  • Medical conditions such as arthritis and diabetes
  • Genetic predisposition to toe muscle imbalance

If you have a second toe longer than your big toe, you’re also predisposed to developing hammertoe.

Other factors that can increase your risk for hammertoe include previous foot trauma like a stubbed or broken toe. People who have longer second toes and those who are genetically predisposed to an imbalance in the toe muscles are also more likely to have a hammertoe.

How does a doctor diagnose hammertoe?

Dr. Senatore looks for an abnormal bend in the toe joint and symptoms like pain while wearing shoes. It’s common to develop corns and calluses where the top of your toe rubs against your shoe.

Hammertoe is simple to treat in its early stages, so contact Union Podiatry early on if you notice symptoms. Hammertoe won’t go away on its own. If left untreated, the condition typically gets worse.

What does hammertoe treatment entail?

Dr. Senatore can usually examine your toe joint and review your symptoms to diagnose hammertoe. He may take X-rays to confirm that you have the condition.

He then develops an individualized treatment plan tailored to your particular needs. When diagnosed early, hammertoe may be corrected with:

  • Changes in footwear
  • Using foot orthotics
  • Splinting or strapping the toe
  • Padding corns and calluses
  • Exercises to stretch and strengthen your foot muscles
  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) to relieve pain

Hammertoe that is painful and unresponsive to conservative treatments may require surgery. Surgery may involve tendon lengthening, tendon transfer, or joint fusion surgery.

Have your hammertoe treated by Dr. Senatore. Call one of the offices of Union Podiatry today or use the online tool to schedule an appointment.