Peter Hibberd, M.D., is a doctor whose advice is based on more than 28 years of hospital outpatient and inpatient experience. He is an experienced emergency medicine physician, surgeon, and consultant. Dr. Hibberd is certified by the American Board of Emergency Medicine. He is also a fellow and active member of the American Academy of Family Physicians, an active member of the American College of Emergency Physicians, and a member and fellow of the American Academy of Emergency Medicine. Dr. Hibberd has earned numerous national and international professional certifications, memberships, and awards.

What Corrects a Hammer Toe?

Monday, 20 September 2010 10:53 AM

Question: Will anything other than surgery correct a hammer toe?

Dr. Hibberd’s Answer:

Hammer toe deformity is a painful condition of our toe(s) often hallmarked by calluses or corns where the toe (either 2nd, 3rd, or 4th ) is bent at the middle joint so that it looks like a hammer. These deformities are usually treated conservatively without surgery, but when left untreated, they can become fixed and require surgery to correct.

This disorder usually is the end result of faulty footwear or a muscle imbalance. Conservative treatment regimens, such as new shoes with wide boxes or wearing sandals will help. Shoes that narrow at the toe push the smaller toes into a bent position, and the toes will rub against the edges of your shoe and cause calluses and corns.

Avoid constricting "narrowed at the toe" footwear. Gentle stretching exercises of the toes will help stretch and strengthen the involved muscles and help the affected toes return to a more functional position. Occasional short-term use of cushions and pads will help with the initial discomfort. Surgery is reserved for those who fail conservative nonsurgical treatment options.

Remember that changes in hammer toes usually take weeks or months to develop. Conservative treatment will need to be consistent and followed closely by your doctor. Do not neglect this condition or it will only get worse.

© HealthDay

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