Hammer toe is a common and painful condition that causes the middle joint of one or more toes to bend downward, making it difficult for individuals to wear shoes comfortably. This deformity occurs when the affected toe curls inwards unnaturally, resembling a hammerhead shape – usually affecting their second and third toes, but any could be susceptible. The primary cause of hammer toe is tight-fitting shoes, such as high heels or narrow-toed shoes, that don’t allow for enough space at the end of the foot. Over time, this can cause the tendons around the toe to become tight and rigid, leading to their inability to move normally. The stretching of these tendons also leads to an imbalance, which pulls on certain parts of the joint more than others. The joints eventually become stuck in this bent position due to this imbalance. Other possible causes include bunions, arthritis, genetics, and neurological conditions such as cerebral palsy or stroke. Treatment for hammer toe depends on how severe it is but may include wearing comfortable footwear with low heels and plenty of room in the toe box. Hammer toe can also be treated through orthotics, physical therapy exercises, taping or strapping your toes into a corrected position. In extreme cases where non-surgical treatment does not work, surgical intervention may be needed to straighten your bent toes. Living with hammer toe can be difficult as it is often painful and affects their ability to walk normally or wear shoes without discomfort. It is important to seek medical advice early on if you think you may have this condition so that appropriate treatment can begin before it worsens.
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