What is a Hammertoe?

     In our Cambridge Foot and Ankle Associates offices, Orange and Newport, we get this question daily.  Patients want to know if what they have really is a Hammertoe and is there anything they need to do about it.  If you have read any of my other blogs you know my answer to the second part of that question.  If it does not hurt leave it alone.  Unfortunately many people do have pain with the condition.  So I would like to try and explain what a Hammertoe is, what causes it and what can be done about it. 

     A Hammertoe is essentially a contracted toe.  This contraction can occur at one of three joints: metatarsal phalangeal joint, proximal interphalangeal joint or the distal interphalangeal joint.  Sounds complicated but it really just describes which joint or joints in the toe are involved.  By determining what joint or joints the deformity is located at the physician/surgeons at Cambridge Foot and Ankle can determine what your treatment options are. 

     The causes of Hammertoe deformity are many.  Suffice to say that outside a trauma(broken toe) that has left the toe deformed the majority of Hammertoes come from a muscle imbalance.  It is crucial that your physician/surgeon determine  where exactly this imbalance is located. Failure to do so will greatly limit any plan conservative or surgical to fix the patients issue. 

    So what exactly do we do for Hammertoes at Cambridge Foot and Ankle?  We always start with the least invasive treatment first.  This can be something as simple as a gel pad placed over the toe to simply cushion the toe and decrease any pressure and friction to the area.  Orthotics can also be of use depending on the cause of the Hammertoe.  Finally if conservative therapy has failed and pain persist surgical intervention can be considered.  

     There are a multitude of surgeries that are used for Hammertoes.  Which procedure is chosen is based on the location as well as the cause of the Hammertoe.  Once our surgeons and the patient have decided to move forward with surgery to correct the Hammertoe we will base our surgical plan on the aforementioned issues.  The procedure or procudures with determine your "down time".  

     While I certainly wish I could be more specific please remember that each patient is different and thus each treatment protocol rather conservative or surgical must match the exact needs of the individual patient.  If you are concerned that you may have a Hammertoe Deformity or already have been diagnosed with the condition please feel free to schedule and appointment with any of our Physician/Surgeons  here at Cambridge Foot and Ankle.  

     As always we appreciate your trust and would love to see you as a patient. 

Author
Dr. H. Austin Hewlett Dr. Hewlett is Board Certified in both Foot and Reconstructive Rear Foot Surgery by the American Board of Foot and Ankle Surgeons. The highest certification in the field of Podiatry. He has been practicing at Cambridge Foot and Ankle Associates for 18 years and is also the longest sitting Podiatrist on the Orthopedic Executive Committee at Saint Josephs Hospital in Orange Ca. In addition Dr. Hewlett serves as the director of the Sports Medicine Fellowship at Specialty Surgical Center of Irvine. He has been surfing for over 40 years and absolutely loves raising his daughter. Dr. Hewlett is available for consultation in both the Orange and Newport Beach offices of Cambridge Foot and Ankle. He specializes in all treatment aspects of the foot and ankle ranging from skin infections to complicated reconstructive surgery of the foot and ankle.

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