If you are suffering from hammertoes, you know how the discomfort can make it hard to go about your daily activities. This is a common problem, especially in women. Anyone can develop this deformity, however, so it is important to know what to look for and how to treat it should it occur.
What Is Hammertoe?
Hammertoe, or mallet toe, is when your toes form an unnatural bend that resembles a hammer. This condition is typically found in women who wear shoes with a very narrow toe box, such as high heels. It can happen to anybody—these types of shoes simply increase the risk. Mallet toe can be painful and it can become very difficult to move your toes back to their normal position.
If you can move your toes you have what is known as flexible hammertoe, but if your toe is stiffened in place it is called rigid hammertoe. You may also notice that you are developing corns or calluses as a result of this problem. Hard, painful corns can form on the tops of your toes, where the bent up joint rubs against your shoes. Calluses develop on the bent tips where they press against the sole.
What Causes Hammertoe?
There are several main reasons your toe may become bent.
- Genes – Certain types of feet are more prone to developing this problem, including people with high arches or flatfeet.
- Arthritis– Damaged cartilage and bones can result in toe and foot deformities
- Footwear– Wearing shoes that are too tight or do not allow enough room for your toes to move around.
- Nerve damage – People who suffer from diabetes or stroke might be at a higher risk.
- Injury or trauma – If you stub, jam, or break your toe it can become deformed.
Treatment for Hammertoe
The treatment your doctor recommends will be based on whether or not you can bend your toe. If it is still flexible, the treatment options are more open. Some people benefit with an easy fix – just by changing their shoes. Choosing footwear with a roomier toe box might be all that is needed to let your toes regain their normal shape. You might also consider wearing an over-the-counter shoe insert or padding to help arrange the toe in the correct manner. Stretches might also be recommended to help strengthen the muscles in the toes and feet. If the toe has become rigid, it is a bit harder to treat with conservative methods. In this case the only treatment option that may be left is surgery. Procedures to remove a tendon or part of a bone may help you get your toes back to their correct position.
When to Seek Medical Help
As soon as you notice your toe is becoming deformed, have it checked. With hammertoe it is important to catch and treat the problem as early as possible, before surgery becomes the only option left on the table. Coastal Podiatry, LLC in Mt. Pleasant, SC is proud to assist you with all of your podiatric needs. Call today and let our team help you to set your toes straight!