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Hammer Toe Specialist

AZ Choice Foot and Ankle

Christopher Suykerbuyk, DPM

Podiatrist & Foot & Ankle Surgeon located in Gilbert, AZ

A hammertoe may not be painful in the early stages, which means you may not seek help. If you wait too long, the condition worsens, making surgery the only option. At AZ Choice Foot and Ankle in Gilbert, Arizona, Christopher Suykerbuyk, DPM, provides comprehensive care for hammertoe. Whenever possible, your treatment begins with conservative care. If you need surgery, you can depend on Dr. Suykerbuyk’s skill and years of experience. Don’t wait to schedule an appointment. At the first sign of hammertoe, call the office or schedule online today.

Hammer Toe Q&A

What causes hammertoe?

Hammertoe is a deformity that typically affects the second, third, and fourth toes. The deformity occurs when the tip of your toe bends down, creating a C shape.

As your toe stays in the bent position, it affects the muscles and tendons that control movement. Muscles work in pairs, with one that bends the joint and another one that straightens the toe.

When the toe stays bent for an extended time, the muscles tighten. As a result, the opposing muscle can’t move the toe back to a straight position.

Hammertoe frequently occurs when a toe is too long or forced into a bent position inside tight shoes. You can also end up with hammertoe after an injury. Some people may inherit a tendency to develop the problem.

What symptoms develop if I have hammertoe?

The first symptom is the toe’s abnormal shape. Most patients also experience:

  • Pain when wearing shoes
  • Pain when moving their toe
  • Corns on top of the toe
  • Limited toe movement
  • Redness and swelling
  • Pain in the ball of the foot

Eventually, your shoes won’t fit over the bent toe.

How do podiatrists treat hammertoe?

When hammertoe first begins, your toe retains some flexibility. At this early stage, Dr. Suykerbuyk may treat the deformity with options such as:

  • Splinting
  • Custom orthotics
  • Padding and taping
  • Anti-inflammatory medications
  • Shoes with a roomy toe box
  • Shoes without pointed toes and high heels
  • Stretching and strengthening exercises

Without early treatment, the deformity gets progressively worse, and muscle contractures develop. The muscles become so rigid that you can’t forcefully straighten your toe. At this stage, your only treatment option is surgery.

What happens during hammertoe correction surgery?

The most common surgery for hammertoe is called proximal interphalangeal (PIP) joint arthroplasty or, more simply, hammertoe correction.

During this surgery, Dr. Suykerbuyk trims the ligaments and tendons in the affected toe. Then he removes a piece of the bone. Shortening the bone creates enough space for Dr. Suykerbuyk to realign the bones and place them back in their natural position.

Once Dr. Suykerbuyk realigns the bones, he inserts pins that hold the bones in place while they fuse together. After the bones finish healing, he removes the pins.

Don’t wait to get help for hammertoe. Call AZ Choice Foot and Ankle or schedule an appointment online today.