Eliminate Hammertoes

In-office procedure eliminates unsightly, painful condition.

Photo by Jordan Pysz.

Ellie happily shows off her feet.

Ellie Cherwick has always hated her feet. “I’ve never really liked the way they look,’’ Ellie laments. “And I’ve always had problems with them.’’

One of those problems is hammertoes, which is a bending or curling of the toes that often results in the formation of corns or calluses as the toe deformity presses unnaturally against the patient’s footwear and/or the ground.

The condition is one that Ellie’s mother and daughter have had to deal with as well, and for years, Ellie dealt with it rather simply by wearing closed-toe shoes to mask the hammertoes’ unsightly nature.

“Mostly, I just hated the way they looked,” Ellie explains. “They weren’t uncomfortable, so I never had much pain, until recently. I guess they just got a lot worse over time, so I decided to do something for myself and get them repaired.”

Ellie’s decision resulted in a visit to her long-time podiatrist, Hal Bozof, DPM, who says hammertoes are typically caused by an irregular and potentially permanent shortening of tendons and muscles that results in the deformity of the toe joints.

“This contracture is often the cause of a muscle imbalance in the foot that causes the toe to dorsally contract, meaning the toe pushes up and the end of the toe hammers to the ground,” Dr. Bozof explains. “Frequently, it is inherited or caused by wearing shoes that are the wrong fit.”

Dr. Bozof adds that hammertoes can develop at any age. They can occur in people as young as 30 or even 20 years of age, he says.

“It can develop at a young age, especially in women who wear high heels a lot,” Dr. Bozof explains. “The older we get, the more likely the hammertoes are to get worse. They are more prevalent in women, but I do see men with them as well.

“Hammertoes can become very painful,” the doctor continues. “Sometimes, they can rub against the inside of the shoe, causing a corn to occur. Unless the affected toe is straightened out, there will inevitably be an issue with corns or calluses.

“Sometimes, an ulcer can form as well. This results in extreme discomfort caused from the toe hammering against the ground and can lead to an infection. Also, painful calluses may develop on the bottom of the foot due to the underlying contracture of the hammertoes.”

Progressive Procedure

Photo courtesy of Ellie Cherwick .Dr. Bozof says hammertoes are very common and notes that in the past, treatment was performed in a surgery center or a hosptial and typically required four to six weeks of recovery time. Today, however, there is a pain-free in-office procedure that eliminates hammertoes quickly.

“This new procedure starts with the application of a local anesthetic that numbs the toe,” Dr. Bozof explains. “After that, a very small opening requiring no stitches is made to release the tendon, which allows the toe to straighten out.

Dr. Bozof says that following the procedure, the patient’s toe is put in a bandage that is worn only for a day. He adds that most patients can walk on the foot with the treated toe the very same day, “usually without any pain.”

Ellie confirms that the procedure was indeed painless and adds that she is back to enjoying working in her yard and wearing most any shoe she wants again.

“I couldn’t wait to get a pedicure once the procedure was finished,” Ellie says. “Dr. Bozof does great work. I am ecstatic with the results! I love my feet again!”

 

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    • Hal L. Bozof, DPM

      Hal L. Bozof, DPM, is board certified by the American Board of Podiatric Surgery and the American Academy of Wound Management. He is a Fellow of the American College of Foot & Ankle Surgeons. He completed his undergraduate degree at Me... Read More

    • Hal L. Bozof, DPM

      Hal L. Bozof, DPM, is board certified by the American Board of Podiatric Surgery and the American Academy of Wound Management. He is a Fellow of the American College of Foot & Ankle Surgeons. He completed his undergraduate degree at Me... Read More