Hammer toes: the foot condition that is named after exactly what it sounds like. Although it might not come up in everyday conversation, it’s actually quite common–with more than 200,000 cases per year, according to Mayo Clinic. Yes, you guessed right. This problem causes your toes to look like the metal tool often found in your father’s garage collection.
Characterized by the bending of one or both joints, hammertoe is a deformity that causes your toe to curl downward or bend instead of remain in its natural position of pointing forward. Basically, your toes have gone rogue. It can affect any toe, but most often your second and third toes become the unfortunate chosen ones. You may have been born with it, but it tends to develop over time and can have a number of causes, such as arthritis, not wearing proper shoes, or even having a higher arch.The good news is: in most cases it is totally treatable!
How do I know if I have this foot ailment? Well, it’s not easy to miss. In addition to the fact your toe will bend–much like a hammer–you might experience other bothersome symptoms like corns, calluses, pain, irritation, and blisters. This is because the awkward position of the hammer toe causes it to rub against your shoe. Overtime, due to the constant friction between foot and footwear, hammertoes can become increasingly exacerbated. In fact, if left untreated, they can become rigid and open sores may form–and no one wants that!
What are the treatment options?
- Change your footwear. If you suffer from hammer toes, wearing tight, pointed shoes isn’t the best idea. Also, wearing shoes with heels elevate your foot and puts pressure on your toes. Opt for shoes that are wider and give your toes ample space.
- Consider investing in a custom orthotic shoe or device (such as a splint).
- Some people actually try taping their toes together to help with realignment.
- Get over-the-counter toe pads, insoles, cushions to help relieve some of the discomfort and to create a comfier barrier between your toes and the inside of the shoe.
- If your hammer toes have caused corns or calluses, we usually trim them down and treat them.
- Anti-inflammatory medication such as aleve can help lessen pain.
- Try very gently stretching your toes–just enough to help relieve tension and reposition the toe.
- A severe case of hammer toe might warrant surgery, and it often helps dramatically.
- Seek prompt treatment–the longer you wait, the more you worsen the problem! If treated, hammer toes typically go away and don’t come back.
As always, if you are suffering from this condition–or any podiatric issue–contact the Dynamic Foot and Ankle Center today and schedule an appointment. We’ll help find the right treatment option for you!