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.
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.
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.
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.
"The staff at Tower Wound Care Center was so professional and happy. Always on time. The medical industry should try and copy how they operate their business."
"Every time I've seen Dr. Vincenti, she's been incredibly kind and thorough. She seems to genuinely care and take an interest in my healing."
"His attention to detail and complete sterility when working with my wounds were astounding."
"If you're having foot problems go see Dr. Knudson! He is very knowledgeable and took the time to explain what was going on with my feet."
"A healer with a passion for his profession and someone who genuinely cares about your recovery. I highly recommend Dr. Knudson!"
"I am so happy with Dr. Knudson! Fully recommend him."
"Dr. Knudson diagnosed my feet and associated walking issues. Great to find a kind doctor who knows his specialization in depth."
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"I have never been questioned about my ‘senior status’ until last Friday night. The woman said she didn’t believe me that I was 60-65. Thank you for my youthful look!"