If you have a hammer toe deformity, we can offer both surgical and non-surgical treatment options. But, before you seek treatment, we need you to identify the symptoms of a hammer toe. Because, when you come in for early treatment, we can have greater success with less invasive interventions. Want to know how to identify a developing hammer toe, or why you’d first develop this problem? We’ll explain all that—and more—in today’s post.
What is a Hammer Toe Deformity?
A hammer toe can develop if you damage the joints in your toes, sometimes referred to as toe knuckles. After that damage, the joints can appear to be more prominent, or even look like they’re buckling. Often, with a hammer toe deformity, your raised toe joints will also start rubbing against the top of your shoes. In turn, you may develop corns and calluses along with this deformity.
Why do Hammer Toes Develop?
You could develop a hammer toe for many different reasons, but most relate to imbalances in the muscles, bones and tendons that support your toes. As a result, many different issues—from a developing bunion to a broken toe or even a painful stubbing—could lead to damage that causes a subsequent hammer toe deformity.
Once you have hammer toes, they could be flexible or rigid. And that classification makes a big difference. Why? When you have a flexible hammer toe, it can still be straightened—and treated without surgery. But, if you have a stiff, rigid hammer toe that can no longer be straightened? Now, surgical treatment is likely your best option.
Non-Surgical Treatments for a Hammer Toe Deformity
With early intervention, we can straighten out your flexible hammer toe, almost always without surgery. Still, in order to do so successfully, we’ll have to address both the current shape of your toe, and the forces that caused the deformity in the first place.
To do so, we usually take a multi-pronged approach to non-surgical hammer toe treatments at our podiatry practice in Medford, OR. To begin with, we’ll take a close look at your foot gear, changing you into shoes that give your toes plenty of wiggle room. We’ll also fit you for custom orthotics, as these personalized medical grade insoles can compensate for the imbalances that contribute to hammer toe formation. By doing so, we’ll accomplish two separate goals: we’ll remove pressure from your toes, so that they can straighten out and feel better. Also, we’ll make sure that your hammer toe deformity doesn’t return after treatment—as long as you keep wearing those orthotics consistently, of course.
But how will we physically straighten out your crooked toes? Here, there are several different options we can explore. Many patients can correct their hammer toes by wearing a toe splint. And, while you restore your toe’s position, we can also manage your discomfort with over the counter anti-inflammatories. Finally, you may speed up the correction process by engaging in toe stretches and exercises that relieve tension in your toes, while strengthening the muscles that support them.
Treating a Hammer Toe Deformity: When Is Surgery Necessary?
While we can offer many effective non-surgical hammer toe treatments, sometimes you’ll need a surgical intervention. But how can you tell when this is the appropriate treatment option? When you come into our Southern Oregon podiatry practice, also serving Northern California, you’ll receive a thorough consultation with Dr. Evan Merrill or Dr. Devin Dimond. During your appointment, you’ll receive a complete physical exam, along with a medical history. Then, once we’ve determined the cause of your hammer toes and the severity of your condition, we can decide which treatment options will give you the best results with the least disruption to your lifestyle.
Now, most patients with a flexible hammer toe deformity will respond to non-surgical treatments. But if you have rigid hammer toes, surgery is more likely to be your best treatment option. Just remember, in our Medford podiatry practice, we always consider surgery to be the last treatment option we explore. And, when we recommend a surgical procedure, we can also offer treatment add-ons, like MLS laser therapy, that can reduce post-operative pain and improve your healing time.
Treating a Bunion and Hammer Toe Deformity, Together
Many patients with hammer toes also have bunions. In fact, bunions are often part of the reason why you developed hammer toes. So, because of the connections between these deformities, we see many patients with both concerns. And, quite naturally, they want solutions to both of their deformities. Often, surgery is again the best pathway to relief.
Luckily, we now offer a superior bunion correction procedure known as Lapiplasty. Considered a 3D solution to bunions, it addresses every aspect of this deformity, meaning it is almost always a permanent fix for your problem. Plus, thanks to its use of innovative surgical tools and procedures, the recovery time for a Lapiplasty procedure is much shorter—and less painful—than what you’d expect after traditional bunion removal surgery. And that can be a big deal, especially if you’re treating multiple foot deformities at the same time.
When to See Your Medford Podiatrists for a Hammer Toe Deformity
We know that most patients want to find solutions to their foot pain without surgery. So, if you want to correct your hammer toe deformity with non-invasive treatment options, we encourage you to make an appointment in the office as soon as you notice changes in the shape of your toes or feet. After all, when you come in with a small problem, it’s much easier for our team to provide non-surgical pathways to relief.
Ready to straighten out your crooked hammer toe deformity, so you can get back into the shoes you used to love? Do you want to treat your hammer toe without surgery, while that’s still possible? Your goal is ours, as well. So call us today at 541-776-3338, and request a hammer toe consultation in the office. Or, you can always go online and request an appointment by following this link.