Posts for tag: Hammertoes
Discover more about this foot deformity and why it happens.
Bunions always seem to get the spotlight when talking about foot deformities; however, it’s also essential to shed light on hammertoes. This common deformity affects the middle joint of the smaller toes. When this joint is impacted, it causes the toes to bend downward. Wondering if you may be at risk for hammertoes? Here’s what you should know,
What Can Lead to a Hammertoe?
It’s important to figure out what can cause a hammertoe to develop so you can do your best to avoid certain habits or practices that could increase your risk. Some risk factors for hammertoes include,
- A family history of hammertoes
- Wearing tight or pointed shoes
- Wearing shoes that are too small
- Dealing with bunions, corns and calluses
- Injury or trauma to a toe
One of the easiest ways to avoid developing a hammertoe is to wear the proper shoes. This means avoiding shoes that are too small, which forces toes to curl under or bunch up. Wearing poorly fitted shoes can also make bunions, blisters and other foot problems more likely to occur, making developing hammertoes more likely.
What Are the Symptoms of a Hammertoe?
Those with more mild symptoms may only notice the presence of a corn or callus, and the toe will be bent down. You may notice some pain when walking or trying to move the affected toe. Those with more severe symptoms may have trouble walking or may not be able to move their toes. The affected toes will also look claw-like in nature.
How Is a Hammertoe Treated?
If you suffer from only mild hammertoe symptoms, then the number one recommendation your podiatrist may make is to change your footwear. Avoid shoes with high arms, pointed toes, or shoes that are too tight and push toes into a bunched position. You can also opt for shoe inserts and orthotics to take pressure off certain parts of your foot while walking. This can also reduce pain and discomfort while moving.
Also, talk to your podiatrist about stretching exercises you can do from the comfort of your home daily to reduce hammertoe-related symptoms. This can also help to reposition the toe over time.
If you have more severe symptoms and other treatments aren’t improving your condition, you may need surgery to help realign the toe. Surgery for hammertoes is usually performed as an outpatient procedure.
A hammertoe is a common foot deformity that affects the middle joint of the smaller toes. As a result, this causes the toes to bend downward. Since this bend causes the joint to stick out this can put more pressure on the affected joints when wearing shoes, which can also make the deformity worse over time. As with most foot deformities a hammertoe will start out minor and continue to progress over time if left untreated.
During the earlier stages you may not notice much pain and discomfort. In fact the only way you may be able to tell that you have a hammertoe is by examining the foot and noticing that the small toes bend downward like a claw. Of course, at this stage the deformed joint is still flexible enough to be straightened out.
However, if the deformity progresses this can cause the joint to become rigid, which won’t respond effectively to simple conservative treatments. As you might imagine, the sooner you see a podiatrist to treat your hammertoe the better. Early intervention is key, as a hammertoe will not get better without the proper care.
Hammertoes are often the result of an imbalance in the muscle or tendon of the foot. Over time, this leads to structural changes in the foot. Genetics may also play a role in whether your feet are at risk for this deformity. A hammertoe can also be made worse by wearing shoes that are too tight and put too much pressure on the toes.
Along with the structural changes that occur with hammertoes it’s also common to experience redness, inflammation or the development of a corn or callus on the toe. If you are noticing symptoms of a hammertoe see your podiatrist for an evaluation. A simple physical exam is usually all that’s needed to diagnose a hammertoe; however, sometimes an x-ray will be performed in order to determine the extent of the deformity.
If you are dealing with a flexible hammertoe, more often than not simple nonsurgical treatment options are all that’s needed. Following simple treatment options and care can prevent the hammertoes from becoming rigid or painful. Some nonsurgical treatment options include:
- Wearing the appropriate footwear. This means wearing shoes that aren’t pointy or have high heels, which can put more pressure on the toes.
- Placing custom orthotics into your shoes, which can ease discomfort and prevent pain resulting in a muscular imbalance.
- Taking over-the-counter pain relievers such as ibuprofen, which can reduce both pain and inflammation.
- Splinting the toe or toes to keep them straight, which can also reduce stiffness, inflammation and pain.
- Applying protective non-medicated padding over the top of the toe to prevent a corn or callus from developing.
If your hammertoe is painful or rigid then you may need to discuss whether surgery is the best option for alleviating your symptom and correcting the deformity. If you are dealing with a hammertoe turn to a foot specialist for help.