What You Need To Know About Hammer Toes


If you can pick things up with your toes, you may think you have a unique talent not shared by your friends. While this may be true, you may be surprised to learn that the reason you can do this may be because you have a foot deformity called hammer toes. Although hammer toes are not the only reason people can pick things up with their toes, this conditioner does make it easier to accomplish this because the toes are bent downward, enabling you to get a better grasp. If you suspect you have hammer toes, there are some things you should be aware.

What are hammer toes?

Hammer toes usually affect the largest toe next to your big toe, but can affect the other toes as well. The toe bends at the middle joint, causing the toe to look like a hammer. Instead of a straight, flat toe, a person with hammer toes has toes that are raised at the middle joint. This can range from mild to severe, depending on the circumstances. If you have had hammer toes since you were a child, you may have assumed this was simply the way your toes were supposed to look.

What causes hammer toes?

Hammer toes can be caused by wearing shoes that do not fit your feet properly. Shoes that are too narrow may have forced your toes together, and your toes may have bent to make more room. Likewise, wearing shoes with pointed or narrow toes may have caused your hammer toes. Hammer toes can also be caused by a muscle imbalance in your toes.

What problems do hammer toes cause?

Initially, you may not notice any problems from hammer toes, but they tend to get worse as you age. You may notice callouses on the top of the affected toes, where the top of your toe rubs on your shoes. You may develop corns in this area. You may also experience pain with walking, find it difficult to find shoes that fit your feet properly, or experience foot pain.

What should you do if you suspect you have hammer toes?

If you notice that your toes are bending at the middle joint, take that as a sign to change your footwear. Purchase shoes that provide plenty of room for your toes without squishing them together, and wear open-toed shoes or sandals when appropriate. Take your shoe off and wear slippers or socks inside the home, or slip off your shoes while at your desk at work. Exercise your toes by placing a towel on the floor and scrunching it with you toes, or simply wiggle your toes while watching TV or sitting at your desk. If this doesn't help the situation or if you experience pain or discomfort from your hammer toes, seek the advice of a foot doctor at an office like the Elmhurst Podiatry Center Ltd.

How do you treat hammer toes?

In the early stages, the joints and muscles in the toe are still flexible and can be corrected via a splint or taping the toe, or by doing exercises to strengthen the muscles.  But as you age, your hammer toes may become inflexible and frozen in one position. They may no longer respond to exercises or simple corrective measures. At this point, you doctor may recommend special footwear and/or cushions or pads for your toes. In severe cases, you may need surgery to relieve the pain and discomfort of hammer toes. Surgery consists of realigning and correcting the position of the toe and is typically done on an outpatient basis, says the American Orthopaedic Foot and Ankle Society.

Treating your hammer toes now may prevent more serious issues from developing in the future.


1 February 2017

Foot Tendinitis: How the Podiatrist Helped

When I developed tendinitis of my foot and ankle, my podiatrist helped me on the road to recovery. An over-use injury from the job caused me considerable pain in my foot and ankle. Ice, elevation, rest, and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory relieved my inflammation of the tendons. My podiatrist also prescribed physical therapy, which helped restore my mobility. Gentle stretching exercises performed during physical therapy seemed to have a positive effect. I was shown how to follow up these exercises at home. After several weeks of following doctor's orders, my podiatrist was happy with the results. The bottom line is if you're suffering from foot pain or injury, you should see a foot specialist as soon as possible because treatment options are available.