Many issues lead to pain in your feet and toes, one of which is a condition known as a hammertoe. A hammertoe is a problem where your first toe joint points upward and becomes rigid as your tendons tighten around it.
You must seek treatment early on for a hammertoe, as it only worsens. If you need a foot and ankle specialist, look no further than Dr. Jeffrey E. McAlister and his team at the Phoenix Foot and Ankle Institute.
Dr. McAlister offers several effective treatments for pain and mobility issues from hammertoes.
What are hammertoes?
A hammertoe is a joint contracture that happens at the initial joint of your toe, called your proximal interphalangeal joint. A contracture means the joint bends awkwardly; it points upward instead of flat like your other toes.
You can have a hammertoe in any of your toes; however, your smaller toes are affected more often than your big toe.
There are two primary forms of hammertoes — flexible and rigid. A flexible hammertoe is less severe than a rigid hammertoe because it’s still in the early stages of development.
When you seek flexible hammertoe treatment, Dr. McAlister can treat it quickly, as the joint is still moveable.
Rigid hammertoes are the more serious of the two because the joint is immobile due to the tightening of the tendons. If you wait too long to get treatment for a flexible hammertoe, you’ll likely suffer from a rigid hammertoe.
Dr. McAlister quickly treats most cases of flexible hammertoes, while he may need to perform surgery when you’ve progressed to a rigid hammertoe.
Symptoms to look out for
You may experience several symptoms when you have a hammertoe. The symptoms usually begin gradually and worsen as your toe contracture becomes more severe.
Symptoms of a flexible hammertoe are often less severe than those of a rigid hammertoe. Common signs you may experience include:
- Pain in your foot under the hammertoe
- Redness around the joint
- Swelling on the affected toe
- Corn formation on the toe joint
- Pain with movement of the toe
- Restricted motion in your toe
As your toe progresses from a flexible hammertoe to a rigid hammertoe, the joint becomes more restricted, causing difficulty walking and severe pain. In rare cases, an open sore may develop on the top of the affected toe from rubbing against your shoe.
When to see a specialist for hammertoes
You should see Dr. McAlister as soon as you notice symptoms of this condition. Hammertoes don't happen overnight; they develop over time, worsening as the condition progresses.
The earlier you seek treatment, the easier it is for Dr. McAlister to treat your symptoms and repair the toe. Treating the toe early can also save you from more severe issues later on.
What are your treatment options?
Dr. McAlister customizes your treatment to your specific type of hammertoe. He carefully evaluates your symptoms to determine the best action to get you out of pain and back on your feet.
He uses conservative measures to treat flexible hammertoes. This includes taping and other therapies such as:
- Specialized padding
- Cortisone injections
- Custom orthotics
However, if you have a rigid hammertoe, Dr. McAlister may be unable to fix it with non-surgical treatments. With a severely stiff hammertoe, Dr. McAlister suggests surgical toe repair to restore mobility and decrease your pain.
If you're struggling with your hammertoes and need expert care, call our team at 602-761-7819 to schedule a consultation with Dr. McAlister, or book an appointment on the website.