Hammertoe is a condition where the toe resembles a hammer by bending upwards. The weakening of the leg or foot’s muscles and the abnormal pull of your toe’s tendons can make your toe joint point up, giving rise to this condition. The major factor that contributes to hammer toe is wearing high-heeled shoes or shoes that are too tight and do not leave enough room for the toes. This can result in this condition. However, this condition can also result from genetics.
This blog will discuss the benefits of early diagnosis and treatment for your hammertoe.
What Causes Hammertoes?
The weakening and tightening of the tendons and muscles in the middle toes result in hammertoes. Certain factors give rise to hammertoes, including:
Genetics is a factor that can determine the occurrence of hammertoe in an individual. Your foot type can decide whether you will develop a hammertoe. Non-rigid feet, like high-arched feet, can cause hammertoes.
Your middle joint can be forced into a bent position when you wear ill-fitting shoes in the toe box or high heels. As the toes stay in this position for prolonged periods, the muscles that facilitate the straightening of the toes become stiff, reducing their tendency to work. Consequently, the toes remain in this position even when you put on spacious shoes. Corns and calluses from non-spacious shoes can worsen hammertoes.
Foot Posture and Toe Length
People with long toes are more prone to hammertoes, and such vulnerability arises from the tendency of long toes to be bent when tight shoes are put on. People with flat feet and bunions are also prone to this condition.
Other Health Conditions
Some health conditions, such as muscle imbalance unrelated to footwear, diabetes, inflammatory joint diseases, and neuromuscular conditions that affect the muscles, nerve-controlling muscles, or the link between the muscles and nerves, can increase the likelihood of developing hammertoe.
Hammer Toe Treatment Options: Why Early Treatment is Beneficial
The earlier you take action to address your hammertoes, the better, as they become less responsive the longer you wait. As the cartilage between the bones wears away and the tendons in your toes shrink over time, hammertoes can become inflexible, making treatment less effective.
A doctor during such a period can recommend the following:
Exercise can mitigate the imbalances that trigger the hammer toe. Medical personnel can suggest exercises that can make the feet and toe muscles stretch and strengthen, yielding an overall muscular balance. Helpful foot exercises include:
- Stretching the toes gently.
- Using the toes to pick up small objects.
- Placing a towel on the floor and squeezing it with your toes.
Wear Suitable Footwear
If you have early-stage hammer toes, avoid wearing shoes that are uncomfortable and cause pain and swelling in order to restore muscle balance. Wearing shoes that are the right size helps relieve pressure on your foot muscles. Such shoes also help relieve pain in your feet. Avoid wearing tight and narrow shoes to prevent poor circulation, especially on the affected toe. Instead, incorporate the following into your footwear collection:
- Shoes with a roomy toe box to cater to long or bent toes.
- Low-heeled or flat shoes.
A splint prevents a hammertoe from aggravating and also reduces its symptoms. Fitting your shoe with a splint can reduce tendon imbalance and relieve pressure in the muscles. Custom-made splints are also available, and foot and ankle surgeons recommend using one after surgery.
Many over-the-counter products are available to keep the toes comfy by reducing pressure on them to reduce pain, prevent poor blood circulation, and correct muscle imbalance. Some of the OTC products are tubes, cushioned straps, or cushions, as well as corn pads.
When non-surgical treatment options do not seem to work or the hammer toe worsens, a doctor will recommend surgery as a treatment option. Hammertoe surgery options include tendon lengthening, arthrodesis, and tendon transfer. If you have any of these procedures done, you must limit how you use your toes while they heal. Swelling or pain can last for up to four to six weeks.
When Should Hammer Toes Be Treated?
Once you notice the early signs of this condition, you should seek medical help so that conservative treatments can be utilized to prevent worsening and thus surgery. Also, it would be best to seek medical help if you develop painful corns or thick blisters on your toes, swollen and red sores on your toes, worsening pain, or difficulty walking.
What Happens if the Hammertoe is Left Untreated?
Several conditions can arise from untreated hammer toes as a result of it being a progressive condition. The following could ensue from an untreated hammer toe:
- Walking imbalance
- Open sores
- Blisters, corns, and calluses
- Poor quality of life
How are Hammertoes Diagnosed?
During a physical examination, your doctor may recognize a hammertoe on the spot. For a more exact diagnosis, you may be sent to a foot and ankle surgeon, who will perform a physical examination on you, including analyzing how your joints respond to touch. An x-ray might be needed too. In the case of diabetes, a tendon imbalance may be triggered, and a test has to be done to find out the cause of the trigger.
Typical symptoms associated with hammertoes are:
- The motion of your toes is restricted or painful.
- Corns and calluses.
- Open sores.
- Rigid joint.
- Inflammation, a burning sensation, or redness.
- Pain (on your bent toe or in the ball of the feet).
Looking to Get Early Treatment for Your Hammertoe Condition? Contact Rogers Foot and Ankle Institute Today!
If you have any symptoms of hammertoes, including corns or calluses, pain in your toe muscles, rigid joints, inflammation in your toes, or painful movements, get in touch with the Rogers Foot and Ankle Institute for the best treatment.
We are a duly licensed institution that provides the best service for foot and ankle-related conditions in Eagle Mountain, UT. Our team comprises adequately trained, certified, and experienced doctors who will meticulously tend to your affected toe. We have the best procedures and tools to offer prompt treatment for hammertoe.