Genetics, ill-fitting footwear, and injuries can each contribute to a potentially painful condition called hammertoe. Usually affecting the second, third, or fourth toe, hammertoe stems from an abnormal bend in the middle joint of the affected toe. A related condition, called mallet toe, affects the third toe joint, nearest the toenail.
Hammertoe becomes a problem when wearing shoes starts to hurt. Unusual pressures result from the bent toe, creating a range of conditions, each of which may contribute its own pain.
Visiting the podiatrists at Hudson Valley Foot Associates is the best way to learn more about your condition and how to care for your foot to relieve pain and prevent complications.
Your big toe has just two joints, so it doesn’t develop hammertoe. Of the remaining three-jointed toes, the second is the most likely to develop the characteristic bent appearance.
As your hammertoe develops, the middle joint remains mobile, a condition called flexible hammertoe. The tendons and muscles supporting the toe become imbalanced, pulling the toe to one side. Semi-rigid hammertoe emerges as these soft tissues start to change toward immobility, while rigid hammertoe results when no joint movement remains.
As well as the visible deformity of the toe, you may find it uncomfortable to wear certain styles of shoes. Other symptoms include:
You might have pain in an adjacent toe, due to friction and irritation from the hammertoe.
You may be more likely to have hammertoe if it’s a condition that runs in your family. Women develop hammertoe more frequently than men.
You may also be more likely to develop foot conditions when you have certain medical conditions. Arthritis is an obvious disease, while diabetes may seem unconnected at first.
When your hammertoe makes wearing shoes painful, you have treatment options. We’ll always start with conservative treatments first. There may be lifestyle adaptations, like changing styles of footwear with low heels and wider footboxes. Physical therapy can preserve and extend the range of motion of your toe.
Custom orthotics can also help to support your foot in existing shoes, relieving pressure on the affected toes. You may need treatment for corns and calluses that result from hammertoe too.
Advanced cases could require surgery, and Hudson Valley Foot Associates has you covered there as well. Tendon lengthening, tendon transfers, and joint fusion are some of the techniques that could help to resolve your hammertoe issues.
The process starts with an evaluation at one of our five locations. You can schedule your consultation by phone or online. Book now to fast-track your foot relief.