Hammertoe is a condition where there is an abnormal bending or contracture of the toes, typically affecting the second, third, or fourth toes.
Hammertoe can be caused by various factors, including muscular imbalances, foot structure abnormalities (such as high arches or flat feet), wearing improper footwear, previous toe trauma or injury, and certain forms of arthritis. Addressing the underlying causes and seeking proper treatment is important to prevent the progression of hammertoe.
The signs and symptoms of hammertoe typically include:
Several risk factors can increase the likelihood of developing hammertoe. These include:
It’s important to note that while these risk factors may increase the chances of developing hammertoe, they do not guarantee its occurrence.
Hammertoe is typically diagnosed through a physical examination by a podiatrist. The doctor will assess the affected toe’s appearance, flexibility, and range of motion. They may also inquire about symptoms and medical history. In some cases, X-rays may be ordered to evaluate the severity of the deformity and to rule out other potential conditions. This comprehensive evaluation helps determine the presence of hammertoe and guides appropriate treatment planning.
Treatment options for hammertoe include non-surgical approaches like wearing proper footwear, using padding or orthotic devices, performing toe exercises, and taking pain relievers. Other options include medications, shoe modifications, corn and callus management, injections, and surgical intervention if necessary.
To prevent hammertoe, follow these measures: wear proper footwear with a wide toe box and good arch support, perform toe exercises and stretches, maintain a healthy weight, limit the use of high-heeled shoes, use protective padding if necessary, practice good foot hygiene and regular foot care, ensure shoes fit properly and provide enough toe space, and regularly check your feet for any abnormalities, seeking professional care when needed.
If left untreated, hammertoe can result in increased pain, discomfort, difficulty finding proper footwear, reduced mobility and flexibility, worsening deformity, open sores or ulcers, and foot and gait abnormalities.
Hammertoe can be associated with related conditions such as claw toe, mallet toe, metatarsalgia (ball of the foot pain), corns and calluses, and bunions (hallux valgus). Seeking medical evaluation can help diagnose and address these conditions, providing appropriate treatment options.