Hammertoe is a condition that affects the middle joint of your toe, making it bend down and resemble a hammer. It can affect any toe but mostly happens in the second or third toe. Wearing inappropriate shoes is the leading cause of Huntsville hammertoes. Genetic factors, trauma, and some health conditions can cause hammertoes. In the first stages, your hammertoe is flexible, but it may become rigid if you do not receive treatment. Hammertoes can be painful when you stretch or move the affected toes, cause walking difficulties, and corns or calluses may appear on top of the affected joints.
Causes of Hammertoe
Wearing shoes that are extremely tight in the toe box or are high-heeled can force your toes into a bent angle, causing hammertoe. The muscles that enable your toes to straighten out can become rigid and less able to function when your toes stay in a flexed position for a prolonged period. Eventually, your toes will be unable to straighten out, leading to hammertoe. Your condition can worsen due to corns and calluses from tight shoes.
- Toe length and feet posture
Long toes are most likely to become bent or squashed by tight or high-heeled shoes, leading to hammertoes. If you have flat feet or bunions, you are at a higher risk of developing hammertoe. A flat foot is a condition where you have no visible arch upon placing your feet on a flat surface. Bunions form when bone growth occurs on your big toe’s base joint, making it lean towards other toes.
If a family member has a hammertoe, you are more likely to develop the condition. A study in 2013 shows that hammertoes are highly heritable among white Europeans. Researchers have no proof that genetic factors apply to all people.
- Health conditions
Inflammatory joint conditions like arthritis, diabetes and muscle imbalances unrelated to footwear can increase your chances of having hammertoes. Neuromuscular problems that affect your muscles, nerves that control muscles, or communication between your nerves and muscles can also increase the chances of developing a hammertoe.
Treatment for Hammertoe
Hammertoes caused by high arches can be treated by wearing toe pads or insoles in the shoes. These insoles help to relieve pain and correct the appearance of your toe by shifting your toe’s position. If your hammertoe results from inappropriate footwear, you can fix it by wearing well-fitting shoes.
You can use over-the-counter cushions, pads, or medications to treat calluses and corns. Avoid popping any blister on your toes as it can cause pain or infections. Over-the-counter creams and cushions help to relieve pain and prevent blisters from rubbing when wearing shoes. Regular stretching of your toes can reduce pain and reposition the affected toe.
If you cannot flex your toes, your doctor can recommend surgery to restore movement. Surgery repositions your toes, removes deformed or injured bone, and realigns your tendons and joints.
A hammertoe is a deformity where your toe bends or curls downwards. In most cases, hammertoes are treatable through insoles, wearing correct footwear, and surgery in severe cases. Schedule an appointment at Foot and Ankle Specialists for hammertoe treatment to regain your ability to walk normally.