A hammertoe is a joint deformity that will cause your toes to bend or point downwards instead of pointing straight. They result from muscle or tendon imbalances that lead to bending of the toes over time.

It can affect any of the toes on your foot, but will typically occur in your second, third, or fourth toe. While a person may have been born with a hammertoe, it often develops as a result of foot trauma or ill-fitting shoes.

What causes hammertoes?

The possible causes of a hammertoe deformities include hereditary tendencies for hammertoes to occur in members of the same family. Bunions are also caused by abnormal foot mechanics with walking. Persons who have flat feet often develop hammertoe deformities. Shoe gear such as high heels has been implicated in the cause of hammertoes as well.

How can I be sure I have hammertoes?

Hammertoes are contracted toes that are difficult or impossible to bend. These toes become painful to the tops and ends of the toes. This makes fitting shoes difficult and painful. Hammertoes will often develop corns or calluses due to abnormal pressures.

Hammertoe causes may be attributed to poorly fitted shoes

Treatment and Prevention

Although surgery is a sure fix for straightening the toe, there are some non-surgical treatments that patients can implement.

Wearing proper footwear can help to slow the progression of your hammertoe and prevent them from getting worse. If your hammertoe formed as a result of a high arch, you may find it beneficial to implement the use of inserts — these work to change the position of your toe and correct the appearance.

Patients may also find it beneficial to use orthotic devices. These devices help to correct the muscle or tendon imbalance in your feet.

If patients are also suffering from bunions, corns, or calluses due to friction, pads can be applied to shield them from further irritation. Be sure to consult with your doctor about which pads will be most beneficial for you.

Surgery becomes necessary when open sores have begun to develop on the toe, or you are unable to move your toe. The surgery performed will help to position your toe normally, correct any bends in the toe, and help realign tendons and joints that may have shifted.

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