Have you noticed that one or more of your inner toes are beginning to look different? Have they become more rigid or even curled? Is it painful to wear certain shoes because the tops of the toes have begun to rub against the shoe? Are corns or calluses appearing on the toe tops?
If you answer “yes” to any of these questions you may have a common toe deformity called hammertoe. Hammertoes are caused by a muscle/tendon imbalance that leads to crooked and bent toes over time. The condition, usually hereditary, may be worsened by improperly fitting or too tight shoes and may also be the result of earlier foot or toe trauma. Arthritis can also appear in the joints to aggravate the hammertoe condition.
To properly diagnose a hammertoe, Stavros O. Alexopoulos, DPM will get a health history from you as well as give your feet a thorough examination. He will manipulate your feet and toes to determine the extent of the muscle contracture. We can take x-rays right here in our Chicago office to assess the degree of any deformity.
Because hammertoes usually get worse, we recommend a visit to our office as soon as possible. After assessing the severity of the condition, we will discuss a treatment plan with you. Non-surgical options include:
- Special padding for calluses and corns to relieve chafing.
- Choosing shoes carefully with low heels and a deep, roomy toe box.
- Toe exercises, especially stretching, can strengthen the muscles.
- Custom orthotics to control the muscle/tendon imbalance.
- Corticosteroid injections to relieve pain and inflammation.
- Anti-inflammatory medication such as ibuprofen to reduce pain and inflammation.
- Applying straps or splints to realign the bent toe.
Surgery may be indicated if the hammertoe has become rigid or excessively painful, or if an open sore is present. Dr. Alexopoulos, board-certified foot surgeon, can perform most surgeries right here in our office with local anesthetic.
If you have toe rigidness or pain, or corns or calluses on the top of the toes, call our office at 773-561-8100 or visit our website to schedule an appointment. Hammertoes do not go away by themselves, so act now to relieve your pain and discomfort.