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853 Jefferson Ave
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Podiatrist - Washington
853 Jefferson Ave
Washington, PA 15301
(724) 225-7410
(724) 225-9469 - fax

Have you been noticing or feeling an abnormality in one of your toes? Perhaps there is a toe or two that looks slightly bent or raised up. Whether you have pain or not, this little change in how your toes look is worth your attention, as it could be indicative of a condition called hammertoes. This is a common toe problem that with intentional care can be resolved. However, if you wait and ignore the problem, your toes could become stuck in a bent position, making it difficult to wear shoes and causing you pain. Learn more about this condition and what you can do to prevent it or stop it from impacting your quality of life.

What is a Hammertoe?

Hammertoe is a deformity that can affect your second, third, fourth or fifth toes. It occurs when the middle joint of a toe becomes stuck in a bent position. The cause has to do with a muscle or tendon imbalance in the foot. This imbalance can develop if the structure of your foot changes over time, if you have sustained a prior injury to a toe, or if you wear shoes in which your toes are squished and cramped. It can also be due to an inherited foot structure. In the beginning, the toe is often quite flexible and can still be straightened out if you push them down or are not wearing constricting shoes. It is during this stage that conservative treatment methods are most successful. However, hammertoes can become stiff and rigid over time without intervention. Once toes have trouble straightening out, the raised joint can rub against your shoe, irritating the joint and skin and causing quite a bit of discomfort.

Repairing the Damage

As little as they are, when your toes are unable to function as they are designed to, they can be painful and make it difficult to carry out even minor daily tasks. Corns and calluses can also develop from the raised joints rubbing against your shoes. Our goal with treatment is to find the source of your pain and work from there. We want to stop the progression of the deformity and eliminate your discomfort. To do that we have to go to the root of the problem.

Shoes most often play a significant role in the development of hammertoes, so we will work with you on finding the right style and shape to alleviate pressure on your toes. Having a second toe longer than the rest can be a risk factor for this deformity, and if that is the case, we want to make sure your shoes leave adequate room beyond the toe it is not forced into a curled position.

If you have a pre-existing condition or a structural problem with your feet, we may fit you with custom orthotics to help support and stabilize your feet and minimize the pull on the tendons and muscles in your toes. Some simple stretching and strengthening exercises can also work the muscles in your feet, counteracting any imbalance so your toes can lay flat. In the case that your deformity is causing severe pain and conservative methods fail to improve your symptoms, there are surgical options that address stiff joints and release tightened tendons if necessary. 

Without treatment hammertoes can become rigid, uncomfortable and more difficult to treat. Don’t ignore pain or deformed toes. We can provide the conservative care you need to keep your toes looking normal and healthy. Call our Washington, PA office at (724) 225-7410 for an appointment.