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Hammertoe Treatments at The Cosmetic Skin Clinic
A hammertoe is a toe that has an abnormal bend in its middle bone joint, which makes the affected toe bend downwards at a sharp angle. Toes bend and curl downwards instead of being flat and pointing forwards. It is a common deformity of the second, third, fourth or fifth toes and is a very painful condition that can only be corrected with surgery. Hammertoe usually forms over time, but it can also be present from birth.
A typical hammertoe looks severely bent when compared to other unaffected toes in the foot. The four smaller toes in a person’s foot are made up of 3 bones and joints which connect them. These bones and joints should sit together in a straight line. But when a hammertoe occurs, the toe bends at the first or second joint, causing it to curve over like a claw or hammer. This is why a hammertoe is also frequently known as a claw toe. Sometimes deep blisters (called bursas) can form around the bone joints of the affected toes, and calluses (corns) can also form on the end of the toe.
A hammertoe is caused by the imbalance of muscles, tendons and ligaments in the affected toe. When the tendons and muscles get too tight or out of balance, the toe bends out of shape, forcing the toe to stay in a bent position. If the hammertoe is not treated promptly, then its bent shape may become fixed, meaning that the patient will require corrective surgery to re-align the toe’s position.
The most common cause of a hammertoe is wearing short, narrow shoes that are too tight. This can cause toes to bend upwards, leading to an imbalance of muscle and tendon tissues. Other proven causes include:
– Foot or toe injuries
– Having a high foot arch
– Pressure from a bunion
Hammertoe can cause a range of different symptoms including discomfort when walking and exercising, and pain when you wriggle or flex your toes. The affected toe can also rub against the surrounding toes and the inside of your shoe, causing pressure and pain. These symptoms can be debilitating and can have a great impact on your overall quality of life. Other common symptoms include:
– Pain or irritation of affected toes when wearing shoes
– Corns and calluses (a build-up of skin) on hammertoes, between two toes or on the ball of the foot. Corns are caused by constant friction against the shoe.
– Inflammation, redness or a burning sensation
– Sever physical contracture of the toe
– Open sores (which form in severe cases)
Hammertoes are progressive deformities that worsen over time. If they are not treated when the symptoms arise, then the bent toe joint may become permanent. If the toes have been bent for a long time, patients will almost certainly need surgery to release the tightening tendons.
A variety of different treatment options exist to correct hammertoes and help them to re-align. Non-surgical solutions treat the symptoms rather than the causes by alleviating pain and preventing the situation from getting worse. Patients can use corn or callus pads to reduce friction when these develop and wearing specially designed footwear that relieves pressure on the toes can prevent hammertoes from bending any further. Corticosteroid creams and oral analgesics like ibuprofen can also alleviate the pain associated with the disorder.
However, for patients who have severe cases of hammertoe, a surgical treatment option is best. At The Cosmetic Skin Clinic, we work in partnership with The Private Clinic to deliver a leading minimally invasive hammertoe correction procedure that has been pioneered by renowned Orthopaedic Consultant Surgeon Dr Andrea Bianchi. As our award-winning medical partner, we can offer patients an exclusive procedure that is not available anywhere else.
Dr Bianchi has developed a cutting-edge hammertoe treatment that uses a minimally invasive percutaneous keyhole procedure performed under local anaesthetic. This simple ‘walk-in, walk-out’ treatment does not use any wires, fixation devices, pins, or screws to re-align the affected hammertoes, making it a unique procedure. Patients can leave the clinic immediately after having the operation, with no crutches and very minimal downtime needed.