21 May Hammertoes – Causes and Treatments
If your second toe is bent such that it resembles the shape of a hammer, it may be due to a condition known as hammertoe. The hammertoe is a highly uncomfortable and painful deformity of the toes. Surgery may be required, in some cases, to have the toes permanently straightened.
Hammertoe foot deformity is often the result of an imbalance in the muscles, tendons, or ligaments that hold the toe straight. Hammertoes may develop due to poorly fitting shoes. As a result, the muscles and tendons in the toe may lose strength and weaken. Genetics may contribute to the development of hammertoes. Some toe injuries, trauma and certain disease processes may also cause hammertoes.
Initially, you may notice calluses and corns on the foot or toes due to a shoe rubbing against the toe. This may worsen over time and progress to become hammertoe.
Hammertoes can be a painful condition to live with. Gentle stretches can strengthen the toe and provide some relief. It is best to schedule an appointment with a foot doctor or podiatrist, if you have developed a hammertoe or any other foot and ankle condition, for early and proper treatment.
Symptoms of Hammertoes
The common symptoms of hammertoes include –
- Difficulty or pain in moving the toe
- Joint stiffness
- Calluses and/or Corns
- Physical deformity in the toe(s)
Risk factors for Hammertoes
Certain risk factors may increase the likelihood of you developing hammertoes –
- Age – The likelihood of developing hammertoe increases with age.
- Sex – Women are more likely to develop hammertoe as compared to men.
- Length of toes – If your second toe is longer than the big toe, you are at risk of developing hammertoe.
- Diseases – Arthritis and diabetes may make it more likely that you would develop hammertoe.
Treatment for hammertoes
If you have developed hammertoe, you should immediately change your shoes for ones that are more comfortable and provide sufficient room for your toes, such as shoes with a wide toe box. Your doctor may advise you to do exercises, such as picking up marbles, to stretch and strengthen your toe muscles. However, it is important to seek assistance from an experienced foot doctor or podiatrist to determine the extent of your condition, its severity and to determine the most appropriate treatment option for your condition or injury.
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