Dr. Anthony DeMaria - Greater Cincinnati and Northern, KY Podiatrist
A hammertoe is something most of us have heard of at one point, but we may not fully understand what it really means. To understand this, we must first understand the anatomy of the toe.
Think of the toe as a “chain of bones with 3 links”. If a chain is straight, each of the links are straight, and there are no “kinks” in the chain. However, if one of those links’ deviates, then a “kink” forms, no longer allowing the chain to stay straight. In a normal toe, the joints align in a straight fashion, and you can visualize a “strait toe”; however, if at some point any of the joints involved begin to contract or deviate, this would result in a type of “kink”, resulting the toe developing a prominence or “proud” area on the surface of the digit. We then say that the toe has become “hammered” at that particular joint. The hammering of the digit can occur at one, or more than one joint, and there can be variations and degrees of involvement with this deformity, and unfortunately, the deformities can progressively get worse with time.
The areas of the toe where the joint(s) contract is often prone to excessive pressure, especially when wearing shoes, which results in the skin over the joint undergoing a reactive, protective mechanism, resulting in the development of corns or callouses. The pressure can often be more than the body can bear, and bleeding or ulceration will develop at the site of the deformity. This level of pathology is a serious one, as often such toe deformities are resistant to heal. This is particularly concerning in diabetics and patients that are on medications that reduce their immune response as an infection can set in.
Treatment options are numerous, and can vary greatly. If you find yourself, or a loved one suffering from such a condition, please give us a call at (859) 746-3668 to discuss your options and helping you find the best treatment to suit your needs.