Hammertoe is a foot condition, where the toes contract and bend upwards and downwards instead of being straight. Hammertoes can worsen with time and extreme cases can be treated only through surgery. If the bend is flexible, the condition is in the early stages and non-surgical solutions may be applied for treatment. In case of the bend or the curl being rigid, it usually refers to a more severe condition of hammertoes.
In case your toe has an unnatural bend and this leads to pain or discomfort, please contact CuraFoot Clinic for an appointment.
Hammertoes occur because of a lack of balance in the toe muscles, which in turn creates stress on the tendons and joints of the toes. The muscles and the tendons contract because of this stress and this leads to the curving of the toes.
The unnatural bending of the toes can increase friction at the toe edges, which can result in corns, calluses or blisters. The constant friction can also result in pain.
There are a few known causes which can result in the development of hammertoes:
- You may inherit hammertoes, since the condition can get passed on genetically
- People suffering from arthritis are more prone to hammertoes
- The risk of developing hammertoes increases with age
- Ill – fitted shoes with no arch support can cause hammertoes. Hammertoes are found more in women who are used to wearing heels for a continued period of time
- Trauma to the toes can gradually cause the hammertoes to develop over time
Hammertoes, if left untreated, can lead to more serious complications. This is absolutely true in case of people suffering from neuro-muscular ailments as they increase complications.
For example, hammertoes are especially risky in people who suffer from diabetes, since hammertoes can very easily cause sores that do not heal easily. In diabetics, this can specifically lead to the wound getting infected and the possible formation of gangrene in extreme cases.
The following are common symptoms of hammertoe:
- A noticeable bend or curve in the toe
- Stiffness or pain in moving the toe
- Swelling, stabbing pain or redness in the toe joint
- Appearance of corns, calluses or blisters at the top of the toe
- Pain in the toes while wearing shoes
- Pain the ball of foot right underneath the bent toe
It is recommended for you to consult a foot specialist instantly in case you suffer from hammertoes to rule out risks and mitigate the condition from deteriorating. The doctor may suggest X-Ray to be done to confirm the condition.
Depending on the seriousness of the condition, the doctor can prescribe non-invasive or surgical treatment as is feasible. Surgery may be suggested by the doctor in case the condition is too serious for non-invasive treatment.
In case of mild to moderate hammertoes, the following can be tried as forms of treatment to minimize the pain and reduce discomfort:
- Specific physiotherapy exercises to relax the pressure of the muscles and tendons and restore balance. This over a period of time can reduce the condition.
- Wearing well fitted shoes with padding around the affected joints will reduce the friction and the subsequent pain.
- In case of moderate hammertoes, consult with a podiatrist for custom made insoles or shoes. These are specifically structured to cushion the bent joints, reduce friction for comfortable movement and diminish irritation, swelling and corns or calluses.
- Metatarsal pads can be used to balance out the pressure of the feet and distribute it evenly, to reduce stress from the hammertoes and decrease friction.
- Anti-inflammatory medication can be prescribed by the doctor as a short time solution to manage the pain and reduce redness or inflammation.
In case of severe hammertoe condition, the doctor may recommend surgery. The decision for the same is often dependent on age, the level of deformity and other ailments that you may suffer from. The recovery time also varies depending on similar factors.