Pediatric Hammertoes

An overview of pediatric hammertoes and FAQs

Diagnosis and treatment of pediatric hammertoe, also known as curly toe

What Is Pediatric Hammertoe?

Pediatric hammertoe occurs when a tendon contracture in the foot pulls on one or more toes, causing the affected toe to either point downward or curl under another toe.

Also known as curly toe, hammertoe in children is fairly common, with the condition usually present since birth. It is more often seen in one or two isolated toes. However, hammertoe may affect all of the child’s toes.

What Are the Symptoms of Pediatric Hammertoe?

The main symptom of pediatric hammertoe is the curl that causes the toe to point downward or fold under a neighboring toe instead of pointing outward.

Although the condition can be painful in adults, hammertoe does not usually cause pain in children. It will, however, become more noticeable as the child grows and begins walking.

example of hammertoes in children

Will Pediatric Hammertoe Go Away on its Own?

Unfortunately, children do not outgrow pediatric hammertoe. And the longer the condition is left untreated, the more difficult it becomes to correct. This is because the bones and connective tissue become more rigid as the child grows.

As the child develops, the toe deformity increases. With the loss of flexibility over time, it may alter the growth of the toenail or the shape of the toe bones. When treating pediatric hammertoe, early intervention is critical to ensure a successful outcome.

Pediatric Hammertoe Treatment

To correct pediatric hammertoe, Dr. Jarman performs a simple procedure known as a flexor tenotomy. The doctor begins this in-office procedure by numbing the toe, just as he would to treat an ingrown toenail.

Next, Dr. Jarman identifies the flexor tendon that is causing the toe to curl or hammer. He then releases the tendon, which instantly allows the toe to straighten. This removes all signs of deformity and returns healthy function.

treating pediatric hammertoes

Don't Ignore Pediatric Hammertoe

If you believe your child has hammertoe, talk to a pediatric podiatrist as soon as possible. Although the condition is not painful while young, correcting the deformity early protects your child from a more painful, difficulty procedure in the future. Early intervention also has a higher success rate than the more invasive procedures used to treat hammertoe in adults.

Call (480) 534-7220 to schedule an appointment with Dr. Jarman today.

Pediatric Hammertoe FAQ

Generally speaking, the condition itself is not painful in children. However, the bent toe may rub against the shoe when the child walks or runs. This may cause painful corns or calluses. You can help protect your child by ensuring they have comfortable, well-fitting shoes with a roomy toe box.

We recommend early intervention for a number of reasons. First, because it offers the best odds for a successful outcome. In addition, the deformity does get worse over time – and that may include pain. Finally, correcting hammertoes in an adult usually requires more invasive treatment than the simple flexor tenotomy procedure that podiatrists use when treating a child.

Yes – follow your pediatric podiatrist's instructions as closely as possible. This includes post-procedural care, ensuring your child has supportive footwear, and performing any prescribed exercises or stretches.

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