Treating And Preventing Hammertoe Through Surgical And Non-Surgical Methods
If you wear constrictive shoes every day for work or fashion, your feet may eventually suffer from more than just the standard aches and pains. Hammertoe is a relatively common condition that occurs when pinched toes are wedged into a bent position, thrusting the middle joint upwards and causing it to chafe against any shoes you wear. When caught early, hammertoe can be corrected without much trouble, but once the bones and tendons become locked into place, you may need orthopedic surgery to be realigned to their intended position.
Understanding and Recognizing Hammertoe
Shoes that are narrow, pointed or too short force your toes to crush together to fit, but they still need to support your weight as you walk throughout the day. Much like bunions, hammertoe develops when your toes remain in this uncomfortable state for too long, but it affects your lesser toes as opposed to the big one. If you notice that your smaller toes appear hunched or curved and are prone to sores or blisters, you may have hammertoe.
Realigning Hammertoe Non-Surgically
A podiatrist can reverse the process of hammertoe if you catch the symptoms early enough, though results are not guaranteed. Orthotic inserts, braces, and wraps may all be used to passively guide your toes back into place. You may also be given a list of exercises to flex your toe muscles and loosen up the tendons and ligaments. In serious cases, you may no longer be able to wear tight or pinching footwear.
Correcting Fixed Toes Through Orthopedic Surgery
Often, however, patients fail to seek medical attention for hammertoe until it can no longer be corrected through non-surgical methods. In these cases, orthopedic surgery will be necessary to reconnect fixed tissues and pop scrunched bones back into place. Fused joints may need to be removed and replaced by wires and pins, as well. Once the surgery is complete, you should be back on your feet within a short period of time, though your choice in shoes may be limited for a while.
Preventing Hammertoe in the Future
After you have recovered, speak to a local orthopedic surgeon (such as one from Omaha Orthopedic Clinic & Sports Medicine PC) about the lifestyle factors that could cause you to develop hammertoe again in the future. You might, for example, need to cut down on wearing high heels or steel-toed boots, or at least go up a size. By adjusting your habits and wardrobe and keeping an eye on your other toes, you can avoid both the painful initial condition and the hassle of undergoing its treatment a second time.