Are you suffering from a toe that bends downwards instead of straight ahead? You may be suffering from a condition known as a contracted toe or hammer toe. Although this type of condition most often affects the second or third toe it can affect any of the toes on your foot. In some cases individuals are born with a hammer toe, however the majority of cases will develop over a period of time due to tight fitting or pointy shoes, and or wearing shoes with high heels on a regular basis. Statistically speaking, women are much more likely to develop hammertoes than are men. In most instances a hammer toe is a treatable condition although severe cases often require surgery to correct.
What Causes a Hammer Toe?
Your toe consists of two joints which allow it to bend. In the case of a hammer toe, the middle joint will become flexed causing the toe to bend downward. Some of the most common causes of a hammer toe include: injury, arthritis, a very high foot arch, ill-fitting shoes, tight ligaments, pressure associated with a bunion, and in rare cases nerve damage. Certain risk factors can increase your chances of developing a hammer toe, for example family history, and certain diseases including diabetes.
Common Symptoms & Diagnosis of a Hammer Toe
A hammer toe can cause considerable discomfort when you try to walk, stretch or move the affected toe in any way. Symptoms range from mild to severe and may include a toe that bends in the downward position, corns, calluses, lack of flexibility and toes that can be described as claw-like. Your Belmont Anderson & Associates podiatrist can diagnose your hammer toe during a comprehensive exam. You may need additional testing if you are suffering from an injury to the bone, ligaments or muscles within your toe. The severity of your condition will determine the treatments options that are available to you.
Relief Options; How to Fix a Mild Case of Hammer Toe
If you have been diagnosed with a mild case of hammer toe it can be corrected by wearing correctly fitting footwear. For example if a high arch contributed to your condition, wearing insoles can help correct the position of your toes which not only helps with the appearance, it can also relieve the pressure and pain associated with the condition. In addition, your podiatrist may recommend a series of stretches to relieve pain and reposition your toes along with exercises such as picking up marbles with your toes which can assist in stretching and strengthening your toe muscles. In severe cases, surgery may be the only treatment option available to restore movement by removing deformed bone, repositioning the toe or realigning the tendons and joints.
Hammer Toe Treatment
If you are experiencing symptoms related to a hammer toe it is imperative that you seek treatment as soon as possible to avoid complications. Prolonging diagnosis and treatment may cause issues with the surrounding toes which may require surgical intervention to repair. To learn more about hammer toes and other foot related issues, contact the knowledgeable experts at Belmont Anderson & Associates today.