Hammertoe is a condition in which one or both joints of the little toes become bent over time. A hammertoe can result from an imbalance of muscles and tendons. This uncharacteristic bend brings about developmental problems as shoes put pressure put on the toes. Hammertoe on a second toe can be worsened if there is a bunion on the big toe. In extreme cases, this toe is rotated so much that it becomes wedged under the second toe. In this condition, the focus of medical attention might shift to the first toe as a possible cause of the hammertoe. Hammertoe can also be inherited, or result from earlier trauma to the toe. Generally, hammertoe worsens over time and becomes more rigid. This can lead to the formation of a corn.
Hammertoe can be caused or aggravated by many forms of arthritis, as well as by neurological disorders. In the latter case, nerves that supply the muscle or tendons either overwork or do not function well so that the toe lifts from the ground and becomes contracted.
Symptoms commonly associated with hammertoe include pain and irritation while wearing shoes, the formation of corns and calluses on the toe, inflammation of the toes, and in severe cases, the occurrence of open sores.
Hammertoes typically begin as mild deformities and worsen over time. At first, toes may be flexible and symptoms can sometimes be controlled and fixed without surgery. Various medications exist that can ease the pain and an injection may help in relieving the symptoms. However, these methods may not cure the actual problem.
If left untreated, surgery becomes the only way to correct them. For example, surgery may be necessary if the hammertoe becomes rigid and pain becomes chronic. According to 2003 data from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, 300,000 hammertoe surgeries are performed annually in the U.S. Therefore, the earlier the condition is treated, the better. It should be emphasized that hammertoes will not get better without intervention.
At Dr. Ravaei’s medical office in Beverly Hills, hammertoe surgery is particularly sought after by people with high arches or flat feet. (For this reason, some laypersons refer to hammertoe surgery as “flat foot surgery.”) Both conditions can lead to or worsen contraction of the digits. If appropriate, Dr. Ravaei can treat these related conditions as a method of treating the hammertoe.
Dr. Ravaei can diagnose such symptoms during consultation. He may take x-rays to establish the degree of deformity and to detect any other changes. Dr. Ravaei can also advise you on the many treatments available. Non-surgical methods include using prescription pads in the shoes, changing your footwear, and utilizing orthotic devices.
While there are many procedures for alleviating the pain, it is essential to pay attention to the causes of hammertoe to ensure a beneficial procedure. As a surgeon who has performed thousands of successful procedures, Dr. Ravaei works to determine the most effective and least invasive procedure for his patients. His goal is to have patients back on their feet and resuming their regular activities in the shortest time possible.
Appropriate procedures range from the simple to the complex. A procedure for resolving hammertoe can be as straightforward as releasing the tendon. In this procedure, a small incision is made at or near the tendon, which reduces the deformity. Recovery is rapid and the patient experiences minimal discomfort.
According to Dr. Ravaei of Beverly Hills, hammertoe surgery can include a wide range of procedures. These include:
Ideally, patients who have had hammertoe surgery should consider physical therapy. This can help reduce swelling and return the patient to their regular activities in a much shorter time.