If your toes appear misshapen or crooked, chances are you have hammertoes, which are bends of one or both joints of the second, third, fourth, or fifth (little) toes.
This abnormal bending can put pressure on the toe when wearing shoes, causing problems to develop. The most common cause of hammertoes is muscle/tendon imbalances.
Common symptoms are pain, redness, swelling, calluses, and ulcers. This is especially dangerous for diabetics, as these conditions may lead to infection and ultimate amputation.
Hammertoes usually start as mild deformities, worsen over time, and can become more rigid and cause arthritis, if left untreated.
If surgery is recommended, the latest surgical techniques for hammertoe correction are simple, and effectively performed on an outpatient basis. Full weight-bearing is possible the day of surgery. Procedures are performed in the same day surgery section of a hospital.
Dr. Charles Birk is a diplomate of the American Board of Podiatric Surgery, a fellow of the American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons, and board-certified in foot surgery.