Hammertoe is a deformity of the toe in which the toe bends downward at the middle joint, causing it to resemble a hammer. Hammertoes usually begin as mild problems, but over time they can develop into severe cases.
Hammertoes are often flexible during the initial stages, and if treatment is administered promptly, symptoms can be managed with non-surgical methods. But if time passes and you do not seek treatment, your hammertoe will become more rigid, and surgical treatment may be required
Symptoms hammertoe can cause:
- Hammer-like or claw-like appearance of the toe
- Pain when walking or moving the foot
- Difficulty moving the toe
- Corns may form on top of the toe
- Callus may form on the sole of the foot
Hammer toe results from shoes that don’t fit properly or a muscle imbalance, usually in combination with one or more other factors. Muscles work in pairs to straighten and bend the toes. If the toe is bent and held in one position long enough, the muscles tighten and cannot stretch out.
Shoes that narrow toward the toe may make your forefoot look smaller. But they also push the smaller toes into a flexed (bent) position. The toes rub against the shoe, leading to the formation of corns and calluses, which further aggravate the condition. A higher heel forces the foot down and squishes the toes against the shoe, increasing the pressure and the bend in the toe. Eventually, the toe muscles become unable to straighten the toe, even when there is no confining shoe.
- Flat feet, less of an arch disturbs the foot complex and ligaments and tendons are pulled in abnormal directions. The end result is very often, a buckling of the digit.
- Injury or trauma in which the toe is jammed or broken
- Diseases that affect the nerves and muscles, such as arthritis
- Abnormal foot mechanics due to nerve or muscle damage, causing an imbalance of the flexor and extensor tendons of the toe.
If the condition is left untreated and the toe becomes fixed, the only option is surgery where the surgeon will cut tendons and remodel foot muscles. It is a complex surgery, which is not guaranteed results.
Corns on top of the toes can become infected and cause secondary problems to the deformity. People who are immunosuppressed such as diabetics and rheumatoid patients especially can run risks of infections.
Conservative treatments is the best option if caught in early stages.
- Custom made shoe inserts (orthotics) will help redistribute weight and ease the position of the toe.
- Footwear with a wide and deep toe box
- Stretching and strengthening of muscles
If you want hammer toes treatment in Australia, don’t be afraid to contact Podiatry First and schedule an appointment. The clinic has some of the best sports doctors and health professionals around and has offices in Sydney CBD, Bond Junction, Miranda, Australia.
Although some people haven’t even heard of it, an alarming number of people worldwide suffer from hammer toes. According to some estimations, as much as 54% of people around the globe suffer from chronic condition to a certain degree.
If you don’t know much about hammer toes, now’s the perfect chance for you to find out about it. We are going to explain the condition, see what causes it, what are the common symptoms, and most importantly, hammer toes treatment. Without further ado, let’s start with the obvious…
What are Hammer Toes?
Hammer toe is a medical condition in which a person’s second toe is bent downward and the middle joint is curled up. In the beginning, when the symptoms are mild, the person suffering from it probably won’t even notice it.
In places like Australia, where people wear flip flops throughout the year, noticing hammer toes is especially hard.
Without noticing, the person won’t go and visit a doctor. After a while, the toe will become stiff, until it gets stuck in a claw-like pose. In some situations, other toes become affected by the condition, which can prohibit the patient from walking normally.
Common Symptoms of Hammer Toes
The bent toe joint is the most obvious symptom. However, once the toe starts curling up, the condition has progressed enough for the finger to become completely stiff. As time goes by, straightening the toe can become practically impossible.
An early symptom is the blistering of the affected toe. As your shoe rubs the curled up finger, blisters and corns start forming. This usually happens at the top of the toe and it can prevent you from taking long walks, due to the pain becoming unbearable.
What Causes Hammer Toes?
What causes hammer toes? In a vast majority of cases, the condition is caused by an imbalance in the muscles surrounding the middle toe joint. The muscles in your foot need to work together to bend and strengthen your toes. If one of the muscles becomes weaker, the toe will start bending. If it stays in that position for too long, it won’t be able to straighten out.
But that’s not the only cause of hammer toes. Other common causes include:
- Harsh foot injuries
- Chronic arthritis
- High foot arches
- Wearing small shoes
- Tighten foot ligaments
When your finger stays curled up for a long period of time, you can suffer permanent nerve damage. Before you start googling “hammer toes treatment near me” we should answer the following question…
Can Hammer Toes Be Avoided or Stopped?
Can you do anything to prevent this from happening? The best preventive hammer toes treatment is wearing shoes that fit you perfectly. If a shoe is either too narrow or too short for your foot, you’re running a risk of developing hammer toes.
The heel shouldn’t be higher than two inches and the toe box should give your toes at least half-an-inch of space between the toes and tip of the shoe. To prevent hammer toes in children, make sure to buy them shoes every 6 months or so to prevent injuries from growth spurts.