Michael J Petrocelli, DPM, FACFAS, CWSP
Foot & Ankle Surgeon & Wound Care Specialist located in Naples, FL
Hammertoe may form into a lump that becomes increasingly rigid and painful. If you've got a hammertoe, prompt attention from board-certified foot and ankle surgeon Michael Petrocelli, DPM, FACFAS, CWSP, of Collier Podiatry in Naples, Florida, can help you avoid the complications this condition can cause. Dr. Petrocelli also excels in performing surgery on rigid hammertoes. For the expert treatment you need, call Collier Podiatry today.
What is a hammertoe?
A hammertoe is a toe that develops into a painful lump, making it difficult to walk properly.
Hammertoes usually affect the smaller toes. The toe typically swells and goes red, and might cause a burning sensation. You might also develop corns, which are hard calluses on your skin.
When it first starts to develop, you can still move your hammertoe at the joint in the middle. Over time, the tendons around the flexible hammertoe get stiffer and eventually seize up, which results in a rigid hammertoe.
Flexible hammertoes are easier to treat than rigid hammertoes. Surgery is often the only answer for rigid hammertoes because they cause such severe misalignment of the joint. Therefore, it's vital to see Dr. Petrocelli at Collier Podiatry as soon as possible when you first start developing hammertoe symptoms.
What causes a hammertoe?
Issues with the ligaments and muscles around the joint in the middle of your toe cause a hammertoe. The soft tissue imbalance means the joint gets stuck in a bent-over position, creating an uncomfortable lump.
If you have high arches or flatfeet, you're more likely to develop a hammertoe. They're also more common in people whose second toe is longer than their big toe. Stubbing your toes or suffering a fracture in a toe can also lead to the development of hammertoe.
Having a condition like arthritis or diabetes is another risk factor for hammertoes, and family history can be an influence. Not everyone who has risk factors like these develops a hammertoe; however, they do make you more likely to get one, especially if you also wear shoes that squash your feet or put pressure on your toes.
What treatments are there for a hammertoe?
As soon as you see a hammertoe developing, get some new shoes that support your feet and give the toes more room. This simple step helps prevent the hammertoe from getting worse.
Dr. Petrocelli also can prescribe custom orthotics to help support your feet. These are shoe inserts made especially for your feet and designed to minimize the pressure on your toes. Toe spacers are also available that help to stop the ligaments from freezing up.
You can benefit from physical therapy for your hammertoe, which stretches and strengthens the ligaments and loosens the joint. Painful hammertoes might require a steroid injection to reduce inflammation.
Hammertoe surgery is an option in some cases. Dr. Petrocelli performs:
- Tenotomy for flexible hammertoes
- Arthroplasty for less flexible hammertoes
- Arthrodesis for rigid hammertoes
To ensure you get the right treatment for your hammertoes, call Collier Podiatry today.