Hammertoe, what is it and how do you treat it

Hammertoe is a condition in which the toe deforms and bends downward from the center joint which makes it look like a hammer. Hammertoes will typically start as a mild inconvenience but will eventually evolve into something more severe. These afflicted toes are usually flexible in the beginning, and symptoms can be managed if treated shortly after discovery of the problem, but without treatment, the toe will become more rigid and may require surgical treatment.

Hammertoe is often caused by our footwear, especially by those who wear high heels as they make the toes overlap one another and bend up. Anyone that wears improper-fitting shoes can develop hammertoe. Hammertoe can cause pain in the foot since toes are made to unnaturally bend. Additionally, bunions can also force the adjacent toes into an abnormal position.

Other causes of Hammertoe include:
  • Arthritis
  • Family genes
  • Nerve or muscle damage in the feet
  • Trauma or injury to the foot causing it to break or be jammed
Hammertoe Symptoms:

  • Calluses may form on the bottom of the foot or on the protruding joint
  • Corns may appear on the foot toward the top
  • Hammer or claw-like appearance
  • Pain when moving the foot or walking
  • Toes are hard to move
If left untreated, the irritation and pressure on the joint may develop a blister which could become a corn with time. The corn may become infected and cause other symptoms like bleeding and redness; these corns are the main cause of pain with hammertoes.

How Is Hammertoe Diagnosed?

The sooner that you can get a hammertoe diagnosed by your doctor, the better chance you have of a positive prognosis and wider treatment options. If your hammertoe is still fairly flexible, foot alignment socks may be a good option to help relive some of the pain before you see a podiatrist. These socks are designed to slowly and gradually reposition the hammertoe into its natural position, helping to alleviate some or all of the pain. Your podiatrist will diagnose your hammertoe by inspecting it, and they may take an x-ray to judge the severity and to determine a proper course of action.

While hammertoe is a painful condition, with early diagnosis, wearing foot alignment socks and wearing proper shoes, you can begin to experience relief from this foot ailment. Talk to your doctor or podiatrist if you suspect a hammertoe is forming to get the best possible chance for treatment.

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