Dr. Merrick L. Horn understands how important it is for you to treat painful foot conditions. He has been a leading podiatrist in North Miami Beach for over 40 years and is a skilled specialist. In addition to his medical knowledge and anatomical fluency, this board certified podiatrist is also an athlete with a subspecialty in sports injuries related to the lower leg, ankle and foot. He uses his knowledge of being a former athlete in serving his patients in the prevention, treatment, and rehabilitation of sports injuries. Dr. Horn was an accomplished NCAA gymnast, and was a member of the gold medal winning 1981 USA Gymnastic team. He also served as a personal trainer specializing in lower extremity rehabilitation. As a specialist in comprehensive lower leg, ankle, foot, and hammertoes, Dr. Horn utilizes the latest technology available to serve the needs of his patients.
A hammertoe is a deformity of the second, third or fourth toes. In this condition, the toe is bent at the middle joint, so that it resembles a hammer. Initially, hammertoes are flexible and the treatment by this top podiatrist in North Miami is done with simple measures. However, if left untreated, they can become fixed and require surgery. People with hammertoe may have corns or calluses on the top of the middle joint of the toe or on the tip of the toe. They may also feel pain in their toes or feet and have difficulty finding comfortable shoes. The causes of hammertoe are shoes that don’t fit properly or a muscle imbalance, usually in combination with one or more other factors. If the toe is bent and held in one position long enough, the muscles tighten and cannot stretch out. Shoes that narrow toward the toe may make your forefoot look smaller, but they also push the smaller toes into a flexed (bent) position. The toes rub against the shoe, leading to the formation of corns and calluses, which further aggravate the condition. A higher heel forces the foot down and presses the toes against the shoe, increasing the pressure and the bend in the toe. Eventually, the toe muscles become unable to straighten the toe, even when there is no confining shoe.
Treatment starts conservatively with new shoes that have soft, roomy toe boxes. Shoes should be one-half inch longer than your longest toe. Avoid wearing tight, narrow, high-heeled shoes. You may also be able to find a shoe with a deep toe box that accommodates the hammertoe. Or, a shoe repair shop may be able to stretch the toe box so that it bulges out around the toe. Sandals may help, as long as they do not pinch or rub other areas of the foot. The podiatrist in North Miami will prescribe some toe exercises that you can do at home to stretch and strengthen the muscles. For example, you can gently stretch the toes manually. You can use your toes to pick things up off the floor. While you watch television or read, you can put a towel flat under your feet and use your toes to crumple it. In addition, over-the-counter straps, cushions or non-medicated corn pads can be used to relieve symptoms. If these non-invasive treatments don’t straighten the toe, surgery can correct the problem. Call Dr. Horn for an evaluation of your hammertoe today.