Hammertoe Specialist

Tower Wound Care Centers -  - Wound Care Specialist

Tower Wound Care Centers

Wound Care Specialists located in Cedars Sinai Medical Towers, Los Angeles, CA & Encino, CA

Dr. J. Leonard Knudson is a podiatric surgeon at Tower Wound Care in Culver City, California. He treats patients with a toe deformity called hammertoe, and encourages anyone with this problem to seek treatment sooner rather than later. Contact us as early as possible so that it can be treated without needing surgery.

Hammertoe Q & A

What is hammertoe?

Your second, third, and fourth toes can develop a deformity in which the toe bends downward between one or more of the three bones in each toe. When a toe bends at the middle joint, resembling a hammer, it’s called hammertoe. If the toe bends at a different joint or at two joints, it has a different name. If the tip of the toe bends, it’s called a mallet toe. If the downward curl occurs at both the tip and the middle joint, it’s a claw toe.

Your risk for developing hammertoe increases as you get older, if you’re a woman, and if you’ve injured the toe in the past. If your second toe is longer than your big toe, hammertoe is also more likely. Certain diseases can also make you more susceptible, such as arthritis and diabetes.

What causes hammertoe?

Shoes that are too tight, high heeled, or don’t fit properly are the primary cause of hammertoe. Ill-fitting shoes crowd the toes, preventing them from lying flat in the shoe. You may develop hammertoe after an injury to the toe or due to an imbalance in toe muscles. Muscles work together in pairs to straighten and bend toes, but if they get out of balance, the toe may stay in the bent position long enough for the muscles to tighten and stay bent.

How is hammertoe treated?

It’s important to schedule an appointment with Dr. Knudson as soon as you notice hammertoe so that treatment can be started before the muscles get too tight. Treatment usually begins with switching to shoes that have large, soft toe boxes so that your toes can relax. Dr. Knudson can help you with specialized shoes, or you can buy them off the shelf, making sure that there’s ½ inch of space between your longest toe and the end of the shoe.

If you’re not sure about your shoes, bring them in and the doctor will check the fit for you. If the weather is warm, sandals may help as long as they don’t pinch your toes or other parts of your feet. The doctor may recommend straps that wrap around the toes to help them straighten. He may also teach you a few exercises to stretch and strengthen the muscles. If all of these options fail to straighten your toe, Dr. Knudson can correct the problem surgically.

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