Corns are a buildup of skin over a toe joint that is contracted, most often referred to as a “hammertoe.” Many times the corn can be associated with bursitis, an inflammation of a small pouch which lays above the affected joint between the tendon and the skin. If left untreated, the toe’s ability to function normally can be impaired, limiting its mobility which could lead to ulceration and infection.
For patients with mild discomfort or those that cannot undergo surgical treatment, conservative treatment by trimming the corn and padding the area can render some relief, albeit temporary. Supportive, in-shoe “orthotics” can help relieve pressure on toe deformities and allow the toes and major joints of the foot to function more appropriately. Splints or small straps can realign the toe while wearing shoes with a wider, deeper toe box can sometimes remove pressure from a sore corn.
A hammertoe may be flexible or rigid, and can occur on any of the lesser toes. The reason that the toe “buckles” is because ligaments and tendons have tightened, cocking the toe upward, causing a pressure point for shoes to rub on, therefore causing the corn.
When the deformity is chronically painful or permanent, surgical correction is indicated. A portion of bone is removed from the affected joint (arthroplasty), and often a lengthening and repositioning of the tendon and a joint capsulotomy is performed to assist in relaxing the joint, and therefore allowing the toe to straighten. Frequently, an absorbable pin will be placed in the joint to maintain the correction while healing occurs.
Some swelling and stiffness of the joint, as well as limited mobility, can be expected after surgery. This is temporary and is treated with physical therapy in the office. Splinting of the toe with a flexible gauze is applied by your surgeon to keep the toe in the correct position while it is healing. Wearing a surgical shoe for the first two or three weeks after surgery is recommended.
We’re here to help you. For more information, or to make an appointment, please contact the physicians of Southern California Foot and Ankle Center, at any of our convenient locations.