There are three types of toe misalignments that people can suffer from. These are hammertoe, claw toe, and mallet toe. The toes often shift in alignment or re position over time after wearing tight-fitting shoes or heels on a regular basis. This is sort of like how braces are used to align teeth, only that the wrong shoes misalign your toes and make matters worse. The affected toe will always be one of your smaller toes, and never one of your big toes.
When you wear a tight-fitting shoe, it can cause the muscles in one of your toes to change in balance. If you wear the shoe too frequently and your toe remains bent for too long, those muscles will tighten and your tendons will contract or shorten. This gradually keeps the toe bent, and makes it difficult to make the toe straight again. Even when you aren’t wearing any shoes, your toe muscles will fail to straighten out the toe.
What Are the Differences Between Hammertoe, Claw Toe, and Mallet Toe?
All three types of foot conditions are serious and are extremely painful and uncomfortable, but they all require the same care and treatments from podiatrists that offer Hammertoe surgery Houston.
Hammertoe bends downwards at the middle toe joint, or PIP joint. The toe will also bend upwards at the joint where the foot and toe joint meet, allowing the middle toe joint to be raised slightly. There also might be a deformation at the joint by the tip of the toe.
Claw toe bends upwards at the joint where the foot and toe joints meet, similar to a hammertoe. Unlike a hammertoe, however, the toe will bend downwards from both the middle joint and the tip of the toe. This causes the toe to curl downwards.
Mallet toe is arguably the least severe of the three types of conditions, albeit still very serious. A mallet toe will simply bend down at the tip of the toe, while the rest of the bones in the toe will function as normal.
How Your Podiatrist Can Help
Call your doctor if you notice that your toe hurts and is bent in a way that does not look natural.
The doctor will conduct a physical exam to see if your toe is either flexible or fixed. If the toe can move, it is possible to straighten it without needing surgery. Surgery is often necessary for a joint that is fixed or won’t move.
If surgery is required to fix your condition, you will also need an X-ray, a blood flow test, and nerve testing. With an X-ray your podiatrist will be able to determine which would be the right kind of surgery to perform on your toe. A blood flow test determines whether or not your toe is receiving blood from your bloodstream. A nerve test determines whether or not your toe problem is also affecting the nerves inside your foot, and if this is the case, you will also have to go to a neurologist for additional treatment.
Oftentimes, surgery is only required for severe toe conditions. Surgery might also be necessary if you are suffering from pain, even in mild toe problems.