Those Shoes May Match The Outfit…

But they might not be good for your feet.

“Misalignment of the joint of the great toe, also known as the big toe, can result in unequal distribution of pressure on the foot when walking,” says board-certified podiatric surgeon Robert P. Dunne, DPM, FACFAS, of Lake Washington Foot & Ankle in Melbourne. “This condition can also lead to the formation of calluses and the development of the sometimes-painful condition called hammer toe.”

Hammer toe is a bending or curling of the toe, often resulting in the formation of corns or calluses as the toe deformity presses unnaturally against a person’s footwear.

“Hammer toes are typically caused by a contracture,” notes Dr. Dunne. “This is an irregular and potentially permanent shortening of muscle or scar tissue that results in the deformity of the toe joint.

“A hammer toe can become very painful, sometimes rubbing against the shoe, causing a corn to occur. If the corn is painful, we know that the corn itself is actually not the problem, but only a symptom. The problem is the underlying hammer toe deformity. Unless the affected toe is straightened out, there will inevitably be an issue with corns or calluses.”

Dr. Dunne always offers conservative treatments to patients before recommending an invasive procedure. Conservative care for hammer toe may include non-medicated pads, anti-inflammatory medications and therapeutic shoes, he explains.

Outpatient Offering

In cases where hammer toe pain is resistant to treatment, Dr. Dunne may recommend a hammer toe correction. This is a straightforward procedure performed under local anesthesia on an outpatient basis.

“These procedures are often performed at a surgery center,” the doctor explains. “However, sometimes they can be done in the office. Each case is unique.”
During surgical hammer toe correction, a small portion of cartilage and bone is removed from the joint to decompress it.

“Typically, we use a pin to hold the alignment in place, and it is painlessly removed in the office after about 30 days,” Dr. Dunne explains. “However, not all hammer toes require fixation.

“There are now implantable devices where we can use a small bone graft if joint fusion is required. Whether the patient requires a pin or an implantable device, in the vast majority of cases, he or she will be able to walk on the foot immediately after surgery and during the healing period.

“The patient can begin ambulating the same day to a limited extent and is usually back to normal activities within a week.”

Lake Washington Foot & Ankle is a comprehensive podiatric medicine clinic offering treatment for everything from hammer toes to bunions.

“We treat ingrown toenails, warts and neuromas,” adds Dr. Dunne. “We also do clinical trials for onychomycosis (nail fungus) in an effort to find better and more effective treatments for this ailment.

“Our patients come first, and we recommend that they take action now if they have a problem. I encourage people not to wait too long to come in. The earlier we address a condition, the easier it is to resolve it.”

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