| What Does Hammer Toe Look Like?
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What Does Hammer Toe Look Like?

What Does Hammer Toe Look Like?

It probably did not happen overnight, but that bump on your toe is becoming more noticeable. If your second, third or fourth toe is bent at the middle joint, it’s likely a hammer toe. If this happens, the toe may remain flexible at first, but over time tendons of the toe contract and tighten, resulting in a permanently bent toe.


An abnormal bend in the middle joint of your toe may be worrisome, but the top foot specialists at Oasis Foot and Ankle Center, www.OasisFootAnkle.com, can provide quality care to relieve pain through every step of treatment.


The Cause

Hammertoe is a foot deformity that occurs due to an imbalance in the muscles, tendons or ligaments that normally hold the toe straight. Muscles work in pairs to straighten and bend toes. If the toe is bent and held in one position long enough, the muscles tighten and cannot stretch out.


Hammertoe can be attributed to:


  • The type of shoes you wear: High-heeled or narrow-toed shoes can crowd toes. Corns and calluses can form on the top of the middle joint or at the tip of the toe.
  • Abnormal balance of toe muscles: The imbalance leads to instability, which can cause toes to contract.
  • Trauma and certain diseases: Diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis, can contribute to hammertoe. If you stub, jam or break a toe, it becomes more likely for that digit to develop the condition.


Hammertoe Prevention

Proper fitting shoes can help avoid developing hammertoe. Look for the following when buying shoes:


  • Adequate toe room. Avoid shoes with pointed toes that push smaller toes into a bent position. Toes rub against the shoe, leading to the formation of corns and calluses, which further aggravate the condition.
  • Low heels. Higher heels force the foot down and press toes against the shoe. Eventually, toe muscles become unable to straighten the toe, even when there is no confining shoe.
  • Adjustability. Laced or strapped shoes are adjustable and roomier.
  • Buy shoes at the end of the day. Feet tend to swell throughout the day.
  • Check your size. Shoe size might change as you age, especially width. Buy shoes that properly fit.


Hammertoe Treatment

Relieving hammertoe pain and pressure may involve simply changing footwear and wearing shoe inserts. Over-the-counter straps, cushions or non-medicated corn pads may relieve symptoms. In more severe hammertoe cases, surgery is necessary.


Toe exercises you can do at home to stretch and strengthen the muscles may help. For example, performing gentle, manual toe stretches and using toes to pick things up off of the floor may help. Also, place a towel flat under your feet and crumple it with your toes. However, if you have diabetes, poor circulation or lack of feeling in your feet, talk to your doctor before undergoing self-treatment.


To schedule an appointment and discuss how to help put your best foot forward and pain behind you, speak with the specialists at Oasis Foot and Ankle Center, www.OasisFootAnkle.com.

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