Hammertoes are toes that are bent downward in a permanent position. A hammertoe is a common deformity that is caused by a muscle and ligament imbalance.
When toe muscles become unbalanced, the muscle imbalance puts pressure of the tendons, and a hammertoe can form.
The three main causes of hammertoes are:
- Genes - If you happened to inherit flat feet, or high arches, your toes are more susceptible to becoming hammertoes.
- Toe injury - Shoes that fit improperly are the main cause of hammertoes. Shoes that are too tight, too pointy, or too short can pressure on your toes, and can cause the muscles to become unbalanced.
There are two types of hammertoes:
- Flexible Hammertoes - This is when the toe is still flexible, and able to be moved. A flexible hammertoe is treatable with a variety of options.
- Rigid Hammertoes - A more severe type of hammertoe. If the toe’s tendons become rigid, they will become out of alignment. The only treatment option for rigid hammertoes is surgery.
The best treatment options are available for hammertoes that have been caught early on. In order to catch them before they become “rigid hammertoes” you should know what to look for.
- Pain when putting on shoes
- Corns forming on the top of your toe joints
- Toe joints that are swollen
- Pain when moving your toe joints
Treatment options for hammertoes can vary depending on how far your hammertoes have gone. If you still are considered to have flexible hammertoes, then the treatment options could be:
- Properly fitted shoes
- Medication to reduce swelling and help alleviate pain
- Custom fit inserts
- Foot exercises
If your hammertoes have become rigid, then surgery may be recommended to help correct the problem. Depending on the severity of the condition, different surgery options could be available.
To prevent hammertoes from starting, it’s important to make sure you have properly fitted shoes that allow proper circulation. Have your feet checked regularly as treatment options are more extensive the longer you wait.