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Hammertoe Specialist

Ronald J Small, DPM -  - Podiatrist

Comprehensive Foot Care Associates

Ronald J Small, DPM

Podiatrist located in Abington, PA & Fort Washington, PA

When you notice one of your toes has gradually become crooked, it’s time to consult a leading podiatrist like Dr. Ronald Small in greater Philadelphia. Practicing at Comprehensive Foot Care Associates in Abington and Fort Washington, Pennsylvania, Dr. Small is ready to answer all your questions about hammertoe and mallet toe. Call or book an appointment online for a private consultation about treatment options.

Hammertoe Q & A

What is a hammertoe?

A hammertoe is the abnormal development of a bend in a toe’s middle joint, resembling the head of a hammer. Similarly, mallet toe is a deforming bend in a toe’s joint closet to your toenail, developing in the shape of a mallet head. Your big toe is the only one not typically prone to these conditions.

There are many symptoms of hammertoe and mallet toe:

  • Deformities gradually appear at a joint over time
  • Pain or discomfort in moving the toe
  • Reduced flexibility and function of the toe

If these symptoms are severe or present during trauma, seek medical attention right away, as you may have a broken bone or other more serious condition.

What causes hammertoes?

There are many possible causes of a hammertoe or mallet toe, from wearing too-tight footwear and curling your toes too often to injuries and muscle imbalances causing too many contractions. All cases are due to an imbalance of the toe’s muscles, ligaments, or tendons.

Many factors also increase your risk of developing these deformities, including broken toes, severely jammed toes, arthritis, and diabetes. Your odds also increase as you age, and if you’re a woman, a parent had it, and/or your second toe is longer than your big toe.

How are hammertoes diagnosed?

Dr. Small diagnoses hammertoe and mallet toe through simple visual observation, but occasionally he also orders X-rays to identify whether the deformity is from a muscle, tendon, or ligament or to diagnose it as a different condition like a broken bone.

How are hammertoes treated?

Dr. Small may suggest one or more of these treatment options for a hammertoe or mallet toe:

  • Switching to bigger or looser footwear
  • Orthotic inserts for your shoes
  • Flexibility and strength-building exercises for your toes
  • Surgery

Dr. Small reviews the options appropriate for your personal case, but he often prescribes surgery to cut and realign a tendon to restore its ability to flatten out. Other surgeries may target a bone instead, removing a fragment to allow the toe to straighten. Pins, rods, or screws often are implanted to ensure it heals straight, sometimes being removed a month later.

Left untreated, severe cases can result in permanent deformities and chronic pain, so ask Dr. Small if surgery is right for you.

What is recovery like for hammertoe surgery?

Surgery for hammertoe or mallet toe is an outpatient service, but it’s possible you may need a cane or crutches for a few weeks. Stay off your feet as much as possible during the healing period. Within a month or so, you typically can resume normal activities, though you may experience some swelling for up to a year.

Call for an appointment or book one online today.


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