WHAT IS A HAMMERTOE?
A hammertoe is a generalized term to describe a deformity of the toe when it bends, or curls, at the
joint level. Depending on the joint(s) involved and which direction they bend, different terms are used,
including claw toe or mallet toe.
The only way to correct the deformity is with surgery. However, it is important to try conservative care first. Conservative treatment is aimed at trying to slow down the progression of the deformity and to help improve one’s symptoms.
Shoe gear – You should wear good, supportive tennis shoes, or walking shoes, as much as possible and avoid barefoot walking and use of flat shoes and flip-flops. You can also try using a shoe with a wider, or larger, toe box to help accommodate for the increased size of the forefoot in the presence of the contractures.
Orthotics – These are devices that go into your shoes to help cushion, support, and control abnormal motion(s) of your feet. They can also help with the alignment of the lower extremity more proximally, including your knees, hips, and back. They can be purchased off-the-shelf or be custom-made to fit your feet.
Pads – Toe sleeves, toe spacers, and toe crest pads are all over-the-counter products that can be used to help pad or off-load the areas of increased pressure. They will not correct the deformity, but they may provide added cushion to the toes while wearing closed-toe shoes.
Anti-inflammatory medications – Over-the-counter pain medications can help with acute exacerbations of pain associated with joint pain. They should not be used chronically, though.
Surgery – Surgery for hammertoes and other similar digital contractures is considered when conservative treatment options have failed. The specific surgical procedure largely depends on the severity of the contracture. It can include tenotomies or tendon transfers, joint arthroplasties or joint fusions.
Disclaimer: The above information is meant for educational purposes only and should not be construed as medical advice. Should you feel that you are suffering from Achilles tendinitis or another foot-related issue, please schedule an appointment to see the doctor.