Prevention, Causes, and Treatment for Hammertoes

A common ailment that many foot doctors deal with is hammertoes. A patient with this condition suffers from toes that curve unnaturally backward, looking something like the shape of a hammer. This foot condition generally causes a great deal of pain and discomfort and tends to worsen over time without treatment. Left untreated, hammertoes can become more rigid over time, making treatment options more complicated and invasive. Rigid hammertoes are more likely to require intensive surgical procedures as compared to flexible hammertoes. Flexible hammertoes may require surgery, but these surgeries are typically less invasive procedures.

Prevention of Hammertoes

If you find yourself suffering from hammertoes, we are here to help. We will present some possible treatment options in this article, but the best way to treat hammertoes is to prevent them. If you are currently struggling with this condition, take a moment to consider the possible causes. Taking steps to alleviate the causes of hammertoes is the first step towards healthy feet and a renewed sense of confidence.

Hammertoes Causes

There are a variety of factors that may cause hammertoes. We hope that this list may prove helpful in narrowing down the cause of your hammertoe condition and provide guidance in how you can prevent further injuries.

  • Some studies indicate there might be a genetic predisposition to developing hammertoes. If someone in your family has suffered from hammertoes, it is possible that you may contract the condition as well. 
  • If you have unusually high foot arches, you may be at a higher risk of developing hammertoes.
  • Wearing uncomfortable footwear can cause hammertoes. The shoes we wear have a significant effect on the health of our feet and toes. If ill-fitting shoes cramp the toes because they are too small or have high heels, they may be putting you at risk of developing hammertoes. If you believe that this may be the cause of your hammertoes, we advise finding shoes with a larger toe area so that your toes have more space to breathe and move normally.
  • Traumatic toe injuries can also cause hammertoe. Broken toes that heal incorrectly can cause misshapen toes and lead to pain and discomfort.
  • Arthritis can also aggravate toe conditions and curl toes into unnatural positions.

Hammertoes Treatment

If your hammertoes are still flexible, you may be able to reverse the deformity before it worsens with strengthening exercises. You might try activities involving picking up marbles from the floor and or gently pulling the toes down. These exercises target the extensor muscles in the feet and can prevent your condition from becoming more advanced.

Sometimes hammertoes cause pain that extends to the ball of the foot. This is called metatarsalgia. If hammertoes are causing pain in the ball of your foot, you may try adding metatarsal pads to comfortably fitting shoes. By introducing extra padding to ease the stress of walking, you may reduce the pain and discomfort caused by hammertoes. Toe splints or wraps may also help relieve painful symptoms.

Surgery for Hammertoes

If your hammertoes are no longer flexible, exercises, padding, and splints may not be helpful for you. Advanced cases of hammertoe can cause extreme pain and irritation, and surgery may be the only viable option to correct the issues. For non-flexible hammertoes, the tendon in the affected foot has contracted to prevent the midsection of the toe from straightening out. Surgery may be required for this muscle to be released. If the hammertoe is severely out of place, it may also be necessary for a doctor to realign the toe to flex correctly. This generally requires the removal of part of the toe bone and nearby soft tissue. A joint resection is a standard procedure that is often performed on hammertoes. 

These surgical procedures are performed only in extreme cases of rigid hammertoes that cannot be corrected with at-home or therapy options. Whatever the condition of your hammertoes, our highly experienced team of foot doctors are ready to help. Please don’t hesitate to contact Best Foot Doctor for a consultation.

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