A bent toe disorder is an oddly bent toe joint. Hammer, mallet and claw toes are often painful and commonly occur in one or more of the four smaller toes. These three deformities can be identified by unique characteristics:
The most common cause of these toe problems are tight shoes, which may unbalance the toe muscles. When your toes are forced to stay in a bent position for too long, your muscles tighten and your tendons may shorten or contract. This makes it harder for your toes to straighten out, even when not wearing shoes.
It should be noted that these toe problems doesn’t appear overnight. They form over the years. Although common among adults, women are more prone to toe deformities such as hammer, claw and mallet toes because they are more likely to wear shoes with narrow toes or high heels.
Other causes linked to these toe problems are conditions such as diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis and foot injuries.
Besides looking odd, hammer, claw and mallet toes may:
A burning sensation is a type of pain that’s distinct from dull, stabbing, or aching pain and is often related to nerve problems.
Calluses are areas of thickened skin that form as a response to repeated friction, pressure, or other sources of irritation.
A claw toe is a toe that is contracted at the PIP and DIP joints (middle and end joints in the toe), and can lead to severe pressure and pain.
A hammertoe is a toe that is bent all the time because of a weakened muscle. They can be hereditary, but can also be caused by shoes that are too short.
A foot ulcer is an open sore on the foot. It can be a shallow red crater that involves only the surface skin but can also be very deep.
Inflammation is a process by which the white blood cells, and substances they produce, protect us from an infection of foreign organisms, such as bacteria.
To diagnose a hammer, claw and mallet toe, your doctor will ask questions about your symptoms, check your medical hirstoy, and do a physical exam.
Your doctor may want to know the following:
During the physical exam, your doctor will look at your foot to see if the toe joint is fixed or flexible. A joint that has some movement can sometimes be straightened without surgery, while a fixed joint often requires surgery.
Drugs that reduce inflammation can ease pain and swelling. Sometimes, a doctor will use cortisone injections to relieve acute pain.
An orthotics specialist or qualified medical provider such as a podiatrist may also make a custom insert to wear inside your shoe. This can reduce pain and keep the hammertoe from getting worse.
Over-the-counter metatarsal pads that are properly placed may help as well.
The doctor may recommend foot exercises to help restore muscle balance. Splinting the toe may help in the very early stages to avoid surgery.
However, if your doctor recommends surgery to correct your toe problem, you may need the following tests:
X-rays. Your doctor may order X-rays to see if surgery is required.
Blood flow tests. If your foot seems to have poor circulation, your doctor may test your blood flow, which could include a doppler ultrasound.
Nerve tests. If your doctor thinks you have nerve problems in your foot, a nerve testing can be done. In this case, you may need to see a neurologist too – a doctor specializing in brain, spine and nerve problems.
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Ankle arthroscopy is a minimally invasive surgical procedure that orthopaedic surgeons use to treat problems in the ankle joint.
Bent Toe Correction
We have several bent toe correction options that vary according to how severe your hammer, mallet, or claw toe condition is.
Minimally Invasive Surgery
In minimally invasive surgery, our doctors use a variety of techniques to operate with less damage to the body than with open surgery.
Tendon Transfer Procedures
Tendons are typically transferred in order to restore more normal movement to a foot and ankle that has lost function.