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Hammertoe Hammertoe

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A

Abrutyn, David A., MD Orthopedics and Sports Medicine 215 Union Avenue, Suite B, Bridgewater
34 Mountain Boulevard, Warren
Adam, Stephanie P., DO Orthopedics and Sports Medicine 140 Park Avenue, Florham Park

G

Garcia, Jason P., MD Orthopedics and Sports Medicine 741 Northfield Avenue, West Orange

I

Ibarbia, Jose D., MD Physiatry 6 Brighton Road, Clifton

K

Kocaj, Stephen, MD Orthopedics and Sports Medicine 140 Park Avenue, Florham Park

R

Rizio, Louis, MD Orthopedics and Sports Medicine 75 E. Northfield Road, Livingston
Rombough, Gary R., MD Orthopedics and Sports Medicine 33 North Fullerton Avenue, Montclair
Rosa, Richard A., MD, FACS Orthopedics and Sports Medicine 741 Northfield Avenue, West Orange
Rubman, Marc H., MD Orthopedics and Sports Medicine 261 James Street, Morristown
50 Cherry Hill Road, Parsippany
121 Center Grove Road, Randolph

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Siegel, Jeffrey A., MD Orthopedics and Sports Medicine 261 James Street, Morristown
50 Cherry Hill Road, Parsippany
121 Center Grove Road, Randolph

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Terry, Alon, MD Physiatry 140 Park Avenue, Florham Park

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Wagshul, Adam D., MD Orthopedics and Sports Medicine 261 James Street, Morristown
50 Cherry Hill Road, Parsippany
121 Center Grove Road, Randolph
34 Mountain Boulevard, Warren

key facts about hammertoe

  • Hammertoe is caused by shoes that are too tight or short, shoes with high heels. It can also be caused by injury, or by diseases such as arthritis or diabetes where nerves and muscles are affected.
  • The risk of developing a hammertoe increases with age. Women are much more likely to develop a hammertoe than men.
  • Pain, swelling, and redness of the skin over the joint occurs in the affected toe or toes when you wear shoes, making it hard or painful to walk.

what is hammertoe?

A hammertoe is a misshapen toe. The middle joint of the toe bends up in a way that makes the toe look like it is forming an upside-down V. The bent joint may rub the top of your shoe. Hammertoes can develop on any toe, but they usually happen in the second toe. 

When shoes do not fit well, the pressure of the shoes pushes the toes into a bent position over time. As a result, the muscles become unable to straighten the toe, even when you are not wearing shoes. Similarly, when there is damage or disease of the nerves or muscles in the toes, the toe may rest in the bent position until the tendons become permanently shortened and the toe becomes a rigid hammertoe.

How is Hammertoe diagnosed and treated?

A Summit Medical Group foot specialist will examine your foot, toes, and nerves to make the initial assessment. Typically, he or she will check for redness, swelling, corns, and calluses. Your care team will also measure the flexibility of your toes and test how much feeling you have in your toes. You may have blood tests to check for arthritis, diabetes, and infection. 

Early on, when a hammertoe first starts and is still flexible:

  • Your healthcare team may splint or tape the toe into the correct, normal position.
  • You can use your fingers to stretch your toes and toe joints to a more normal position.
  • You can exercise your toes by trying to pick up marbles with them or by wadding up cloth with your toes.
  • Padding may be used to change where your weight falls when you walk on the foot.

As hammertoe progresses, treatment may include surgery. The specific procedure depends on the degree of deformity in the toe.

  • The surgeon may make a cut over your toe and release the tendon by cutting the tendon away from the bone.
  • The surgeon may remove a small piece of bone from the toe.
  • The surgeon may realign the tendons to reposition your toe or fasten the bones with pins.
  • Sometimes the surgeon may have to join the bones in the toe. In this case, you will no longer be able to bend the toe, but the toe will be flat.

how can i manage hammertoe?

  • Wear shoes that are soft, roomy, and comfortable and avoid tight shoes or shoes with high heels.
  • Have a professional pedicure. Sometimes a skilled manicurist can file down a painful corn.
  • Follow your healthcare team's instructions.

Source: Content is adapted from our Live Well Library, developed by RelayHealth. Copyright ©2014 McKesson Corporation and/or one of its subsidiaries. All rights reserved.

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