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At Weil Foot & Ankle Institute, a common podiatric deformity that we treat in our Lake, Cooke and Roselle-Dupage County patients is hammertoe. This condition can become extremely debilitating and affect your ability to stand and walk comfortably.

Below are some hammertoe do’s and don’ts.

Do: know your family history. The tendency for hammertoes can be inherited and our podiatrists will want to know if they run in your family.

Do: recognize the symptoms of hammertoe. Of course, the most obvious is the hammer-like contracture of the second, third or fourth toe which gives the condition its name. This may happen gradually, however, and only appear as a slight bending down in the early stages of the deformity. Other signs that a hammertoe is forming are pressure, pain or blisters on the top of the deformed toe that occur as a result of the friction from footwear. As a hammertoe progresses, corns may form on the top or between the toes and a callus can build up in the ball of the foot.

Don’t: put off seeking treatment for hammertoe symptoms. Hammertoes are a progressive condition—they will only get worse over time and the toe will become increasingly rigid in the abnormally bent position. Once this happens, surgery will be necessary to correct the toe deformity.

Do: ask the podiatrist about conservative treatment methods that would be right for you. There are several:

  • Custom orthotics—a shoe insert made to the precise contours of your foot can correct the muscle/tendon imbalance that is the most frequent cause of hammertoes.
  • Splinting and strapping—the podiatrist may try to physically realign your toe through the use of a splint or straps that hold the toe in its proper position.
  • Medications—the foot doctor may recommend nonsteroidal, anti-inflammatory medications or corticosteroid injections to relieve pain and inflammation.

Do: choose footwear carefully. Excessive pressure on the toes caused by high heels or short and narrow toe boxes can speed the progression of a hammertoe and increase pain and discomfort.

If you have concerns about a hammertoe, contact our Bannockburn, Orland Park, Roselle or any of our other 16 conveniently located offices today.