Hammertoes are a common foot deformity caused by prolonged wearing of shoes. They usually start out as a minor toe problem with little to no pain, but they worsen over time. Hammertoes are most commonly seen in females because their footwear is usually the culprit for their condition.
What Causes Hammertoes?
If you have hammertoes, the problem might be inherited. But some factors can worsen or cause your condition, including:
Footwear- In narrow shoes, the ball of the foot, including all toes, is under a lot of pressure. The big toe and the smaller toes apply pressure from opposite sides, leaving no space for the second toe to go but upwards, forming a hammertoe.
Don’t worry; one of the best ways to get rid of foot pain is identifying and removing whatever is causing it. If you don’t, the pain will continue.
Morton’s toe- Morton’s toe is a condition in which the second toe extends outward, making it more prone to hammertoes. The condition is typically caused by fitting our footwear to our big toe.
We have to have enough space in the shoe for our toes, so the longest toe should be the one with the most space. If it’s not, that could force the second toe back into a bent position at the knuckle joint.
How to prevent Hammertoes
Measuring the length of your foot is very important. You need to ensure you are wearing shoes with a proper fit. If your shoes have removable insoles, you can take them out and stand on them to see if there is a thumbnail’s worth of space between the end of your longest toe and the end of the insole.
If your shoe doesn’t have a removable footbed, there are other ways to tell if it’s the right size. For example, you can stand on a piece of cardboard and trace around your foot. Cut it out and place it inside the shoe. If it buckles when you lay it flat, the shoe is too short. If it curls at the side, the shoe is too narrow.
Toe stretches are an easy and effective way to prevent the hammertoe from becoming an austere toe deformity. Pointing toes down and picking up socks off the floor is a good place to start. That will give the tendons responsible for hammertoes a chance to stretch.
How can a podiatrist help?
Fight back against a hammertoe with early treatment. These treatments may include injections, surgery, or casting. If you feel you can’t handle the pain anymore, see a podiatrist.
- It can be difficult to treat corns or calluses on the toe. If you have a hammertoe, these will likely occur on the knuckle joint or tip of the toe. The only way to remove them is to go to a podiatrist.
- When an area of the foot is being overused – such as the joint – it can cause a corn to form. Padding can be applied to offload that area and prevent corns from reoccurring. It is a short-term fix.
- Podiatrists can make custom-made silicone devices; these are known as Ottoforms. They are long-term treatment options that reduce pressure on the tip of your toe if they are customised to fit your foot.
- Gel devices are available at some pharmacies, but you should order an ottoform to fit your individual needs for the best solution.
Podiatrists recommend wide, round-toed shoes with a deep toe box to provide more space around the toes. Seams should be avoided for comfort and protection, and can also lead to hammertoes, chafing, and corns.
Open-toed sandals are an alternative to closed-toe options, but if the strap comes across the top of your toes, you may want to reconsider. Hammertoes are a complicated condition that requires surgery in most cases. If you think you are suffering from hammertoes, please contact us today.
*This blog contains general information about medical conditions and is not advice. You must not rely upon the information in this blog as medical advice. Medical advice should always be sought from an appropriately qualified podiatrist such as ourselves.