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Posts for tag: Hammertoes

By Oakton Foot
June 16, 2021
Category: Foot Conditions
Tags: Hammertoes  

Hammertoes are easily identified by their irregular shape, and while not uncommon or dangerous, the condition can be uncomfortable, especially after long days of wearing uncomfortable work shoes.

The condition, sometimes hereditary, occurs when the toe joint is bent and deformed, leading to pressure and friction. The resulting pain can leave you wary to walk or even stand, but your podiatrists, Dr. Steven Vetter and Dr. Jugal Dharia of Oakton Foot and Ankle Center in Fairfax, VA, can help you find relief.

What causes hammertoes?

Hammertoes may be genetic, due to a muscle or tendon imbalance, or caused by lifestyle habits such as frequently wearing shoes that have pointed-toe boxes, high heels, or a narrow cut.

What makes hammertoes so painful?

The toe itself doesn't cause discomfort, but rather the pain results when the toe rubs or pushes against your shoe, which can lead to corns, calluses, sores, redness, or swelling.

How can I treat my hammertoes?

Depending on the severity of your hammertoes, your podiatrist may advise simple changes like switching to low-heeled, supportive shoes with a roomy toe-box, using a cushioned shoe insert, or putting padding on any calluses and corns that have developed to prevent pain.

Your podiatrist may recommend corticosteroid injections or taking anti-inflammatory medications, to relieve pain and inflammation. If your hammertoes are severe, you may need surgical treatment. The operation, done at our Fairfax, VA, office, involves cutting the tendons and ligaments so your podiatrist can straighten your toe. A portion of the bone may also need to be shaved away. You will need to wear a special shoe for a few weeks as your toe heals, but within several weeks you will be pain-free for good.

If hammertoes are keeping you in pain, make an appointment with your podiatrists, Dr. Vetter and Dr. Dharia of Oakton Foot and Ankle Center in Fairfax, VA, by calling (703) 352-8888.

By Oakton Foot
April 09, 2020
Category: Foot Care
Tags: Hammertoes  

Hammertoe is a type of foot deformity that arises due to an imbalance in the ligaments, tendons, or muscles that usually hold the toe straight. It causes the affected toe to bend upwards, resembling a hammer. This deformity can be caused by injury to the foot, your choice of footwear, and the structure of your foot. Drs. Steven Vetter and Jugal Dharia are your Fairfax podiatrists who specializes in the treatment of hammertoe.

Two Types of Hammertoes

  • Flexible hammertoe: In the early stages of this condition, it can be treated by wearing flat shoes that are at least a half-inch longer than your longest toe. Foot exercises, such as picking up small objects with your toes, may help to increase the flexibility of the affected toe. Hot and cold treatment may help with swelling and pain. You may also find comfort in placing a pad over the toe to prevent shoes from rubbing the skin.
  • Rigid hammertoe: In the second stage of the condition, the toe joint becomes inflexible. In this case, the home treatments suggested above may only offer a brief respite from symptoms. Your podiatrist may suggest making a customized orthotic device. If this does not work, surgery may be an option.

Symptoms of Hammertoe

Hammertoe causes an abnormal bend in the middle joint a toe. It can occur in any toe, though typically the second, third or fourth toes are affected. The deformity is clearly visible. Symptoms include:

  • Movement causes pain in the affected toe
  • Callouses and corns may develop in the affected joint
  • A burning sensation may be felt
  • Visible swelling and redness
  • A burning sensation around the affected joint

Surgery for Hammertoe

Types of surgery for hammertoe include:

  • Tendon transfer: In this type of surgery, the tendon is pulled across the top of the joint of the affected toe. This realigns the toe and improves its appearance. It also minimizes pain.
  • Fusion: A portion of the joint is removed to allow the bone in the toe to grow together. This type of surgery straightens the toe and minimizes pain.

If you’re looking for a podiatrist in Fairfax, VA, call Drs. Steven Vetter and Jugal Dharia today on (703) 352-8888 to make an appointment at Oakton Foot and Ankle Center.

By Steven R Vetter, DPM
July 05, 2019
Category: Podiatry
Tags: Hammertoes  

A hammertoe is a common foot deformity that affects the middle joint of the smaller toes. As a result, this causes the toes to bend downward. Since this bend causes the joint to stick out this can put more pressure on the affected joints when wearing shoes, which can also make the deformity worse over time. As with most foot deformities a hammertoe will start out minor and continue to progress over time if left untreated.

During the earlier stages you may not notice much pain and discomfort. In fact the only way you may be able to tell that you have a hammertoe is by examining the foot and noticing that the small toes bend downward like a claw. Of course, at this stage the deformed joint is still flexible enough to be straightened out.

However, if the deformity progresses this can cause the joint to become rigid, which won’t respond effectively to simple conservative treatments. As you might imagine, the sooner you see a podiatrist to treat your hammertoe the better. Early intervention is key, as a hammertoe will not get better without the proper care.

Hammertoes are often the result of an imbalance in the muscle or tendon of the foot. Over time, this leads to structural changes in the foot. Genetics may also play a role in whether your feet are at risk for this deformity. A hammertoe can also be made worse by wearing shoes that are too tight and put too much pressure on the toes.

Along with the structural changes that occur with hammertoes it’s also common to experience redness, inflammation or the development of a corn or callus on the toe. If you are noticing symptoms of a hammertoe see your podiatrist for an evaluation. A simple physical exam is usually all that’s needed to diagnose a hammertoe; however, sometimes an x-ray will be performed in order to determine the extent of the deformity.

If you are dealing with a flexible hammertoe, more often than not simple nonsurgical treatment options are all that’s needed. Following simple treatment options and care can prevent the hammertoes from becoming rigid or painful. Some nonsurgical treatment options include:

  • Wearing the appropriate footwear. This means wearing shoes that aren’t pointy or have high heels, which can put more pressure on the toes.
  • Placing custom orthotics into your shoes, which can ease discomfort and prevent pain resulting in a muscular imbalance.
  • Taking over-the-counter pain relievers such as ibuprofen, which can reduce both pain and inflammation.
  • Splinting the toe or toes to keep them straight, which can also reduce stiffness, inflammation and pain.
  • Applying protective non-medicated padding over the top of the toe to prevent a corn or callus from developing.

If your hammertoe is painful or rigid then you may need to discuss whether surgery is the best option for alleviating your symptom and correcting the deformity. If you are dealing with a hammertoe turn to a foot specialist for help.

By Oakton Foot and Ankle Center
May 02, 2019
Category: Foot Issues
Tags: Hammertoes  

Do your smaller toes look like little hammers or mallets? If so, you may have an acquired deformity of the foot called hammertoes. Luckily, Hammertoesyour podiatrists here at Oakton Foot and Ankle Center, Dr. Steven Vetter and Dr. Jugal Dharia, have plenty of experience in treating this condition! Read on to learn how our Fairfax, VA, office can resolve the problem.


How do hammertoes form?

Defined by a characteristic contracture and stiffening of the smaller toes, this condition may arise from blunt force trauma; however, it more often occurs gradually over time. Contributing to the odd shape, pain, corns, calluses, and sores of hammertoes are factors such as:

  • Wearing tight, narrow shoes and high heels
  • Heredity (the deformity runs in families)
  • Arthritis
  • Diabetes
  • Poor circulation
  • An unusually high arch
  • Imbalances in gait (or how you walk)
  • Age plays a role as well, particularly if other deformities, such as bunions, exist


How your podiatrist can help

Accurate diagnosis and treatment is key to limiting the progression of hammertoes. During a consultation at our Fairfax office, Dr. Vetter or Dr. Dharia will inspect your foot and how you walk. You will also be asked about your symptoms and what worsens or alleviates them. Finally, he'll take some X-rays to assess the internal structure of your foot.

With a confirmed hammertoe diagnosis, your podiatrist may recommend several remedial strategies. Surgery is an option, too, but only if the hammertoe is very advanced and cannot be addressed by these simpler interventions:

  1. Wearing low-heeled, comfortable shoes with proper arch support and room in the toes
  2. Padding the hammertoe (moleskin is a frequent choice)
  3. Using custom-made shoe orthotics (inserts) to balance muscles, tendons, and ligaments and to correct gait issues such as overpronation
  4. Removing or padding calluses or corns on the toe
  5. Corticosteroid injections
  6. Taking over the counter ibuprofen to lessen pain and relieve inflammation
  7. Exercising (stretching your feet and toes morning and evening)
  8. Toe splints


Find out more

If you need relief from your hammertoes, phone our Fairfax office today for a consultation with Dr. Vetter or Dr. Dharia: (703) 352-8888.

By Oakton Foot & Ankle Center
July 09, 2018
Category: Foot Care
Tags: Hammertoes  

When most people think about foot deformities they most often think about bunions; however, hammertoes are just as common. This unassuming deformity comes about gradually, so you may not even notice it until it’s too late. “What is a hammertoe?” You might be wondering. A hammertoe affects the middle joint of a toe (often the smaller toes), causing the toe to bend downward. In severe cases, a hammertoe will look almost claw-like.

There are two kinds of hammertoes: flexible and rigid. As you might imagine, a flexible hammertoe is one in which you can still straighten the toe out. If you aren’t able to straighten the affected toe then this is a rigid hammertoe. A flexible hammertoe isn’t as serious as a rigid one; however, it’s important that you take care of your hammertoe to make sure that it doesn’t get worse.

While there is no way to cure a hammertoe there are simple measures you can take to prevent it from progressing. First and foremost, you need to take a look at the shoes you are wearing and make sure that they aren’t too tight. When you slip your feet into your shoes, does it cause your toes to bunch up against one another? If so then this could make your hammertoe worse.

Instead, opt for shoes with an ample toe box, which will allow your toes to wiggle and move around freely. If you have a structural imbalance within the foot this can leave you prone to foot problems such as hammertoes and bunions. To correct this imbalance, talk to your foot doctor about getting custom orthotics (shoe inserts), which can be placed into your shoes to help provide cushioning, support, and shock absorption for your feet.

If pain or stiffness does rear its ugly head you can choose to take an over-the-counter pain reliever like ibuprofen, which can tackle both pain and inflammation in one fell swoop, or you can place a towel-wrapped ice pack (never put ice directly on the skin, as it can cause severe burns) over the area for several minutes.

Just as you can buy pads to cover a bunion or callus, you can also buy a non-medicated protective pad to cover over a hammertoe. Since the deformed toe joint juts out this can leave the toe prone to calluses, which can cause pain when wearing shoes. To prevent a callus from forming, you can apply a protective pad over the deformed toe joint before putting on shoes.

Of course, if you are dealing with significant or frequent pain, or if the hammertoe is rigid, then you will want to turn to a podiatric specialist. In severe cases, surgery may be recommended to correct the disfigured joint.

Contact us 

Oakton Foot & Ankle Center, PLLC

Fairfax, VA Podiatrist
Oakton Foot and Ankle Center
10721 Main St., Suite #3500
Fairfax, VA 22030
(703) 352-8888
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