A hammer toe is an abnormality in which your toe bends or curls downward rather than forward. This deformity may affect any toe on your foot, especially the second or third toe. Evergreen hammer toe can cause discomfort and difficulty walking, and a corn or callus might appear on top of the joint. A rigid joint, pain at the top of the bent toe, and swelling characterize hammer toes. If you experience symptoms, consult your doctor or a podiatrist immediately. They can check the toes and initiate conservative therapy to help prevent your toe from becoming more bent.
Causes of hammer toes
A hammer toe is caused by abnormal muscle balance in your toe, which generates excessive pressure on the tendon and joints. The following are common causes of muscle imbalance:
- Genes: The foot type you are born with can predispose you to have this type of joint deformity. Flat, flexible feet can cause hammer toes as your foot stabilizes against a flattening arch. Also, feet with high arches can develop hammer toes as your extensor tendons overpower the flexors.
- Trauma: Rarely, trauma to your toe can cause a hammer toe.
- Poor footwear: Shoes that are too narrow or ill-fitting, like high heels, provide little to no arch support. High heels impose severe pressure on the toes and their joints. As a result, cases of hammer toes are more present in women than in men.
- Neuromuscular disease: Neuromuscular illnesses can contribute to hammer toe development. Diabetes patients are more likely to have problems. For them, a toe with a corn or other ulceration signals that the toes are under too much strain. In those with diabetes who have poor blood flow or neuropathy, infected corns, and lesions might result in losing a toe or foot unless their shoes are adjusted.
What to anticipate after your treatment
After addressing the cause of your hammer toe, it typically resolves without issues. However, if you wait too long to seek treatment, your surrounding toes may become distorted as the hammer toe forces them out of position. It is ideal to obtain therapy as soon as the diagnosis is established.
Preventing hammer toes
Since wearing restrictive shoes is a major cause of hammer toe, using certain types of shoes can lower the chance of developing the disorder. You should look for flat or low-heeled shoes with adequate room in your toes and avoid shoes with high heels, pointed or narrow toes, or that are overly tight.
Other causes of a hammer toe are not within an individual’s control, so wearing well-fitting shoes is the right strategy to help prevent it. Those with other foot disorders, like bunions, flat feet, or neuropathy, might also want to seek therapy to minimize their risk of further issues.
Although hammer toe can be unsightly and painful, it does not always necessitate surgery. Home remedies are often effective, such as changing shoes and doing toe exercises. An orthopedic surgeon or podiatrist can help you address the condition before surgery.
If you experience hammer toe symptoms, you should consult a doctor before allowing it to worsen. Call Rocky Mountain Foot and Ankle Center or book your meeting online to find the ideal hammer toe therapies.