Posted on: 21 December 2016
Is one of your toes starting to get stuck in a "curled up" position? This might seem funny at first, until you realize it's not straightening or going back to normal on its own anymore. You're probably suffering from a condition known as hammertoe. Though it can be a nuisance, there's no need to rush to the ER or call your doctor immediately. Here's a closer look at hammertoe, what causes it, and how it's typically treated.
What causes hammertoe?
Hammertoe usually develops slowly over time. At first, your toe may occasionally get stuck in a slightly bent position. Then, the bend worsens and become permanent. If the condition is left to progress on its own for many years, you may eventually be unable to straighten your toe—even manually.
Hammertoe is caused by a shortening and stiffening of the ligaments in your toe. Some people are genetically predisposed to developing hammertoe, but you can certainly develop it even if neither of your parents had it. It can be the result of a toe injury that occurred years ago, and it's sometimes caused by arthritis or wearing too-tight shoes.
What should you do about hammertoe?
You can start by taking steps at home to prevent the condition from worsening and to alleviate soreness:
- Switch to shoes with a wider toe box.
- Avoid shoes that directly place pressure on the affected toe.
- Place felt or moleskin pads on parts of your toe that seem to rub on your shoe.
- Gently massage your toe when it gets sore.
- Apply ice to your toe if it's sore after a long day on your feet.
If your hammertoe begins to bother you and you're unable to keep the symptoms under control with the above steps, talk to your podiatrist. They may recommend a special splint to wear inside your shoe, which can help keep the condition from getting worse. In severe cases, you can have surgery to correct the deformity and straighten your toe back out.
How can you prevent this from happening to your other toes?
If you're developing one hammertoe, you should consider yourself prone to the condition and should take steps to prevent your other toes from suffering the same fate. Try to stay away from high heels. If you have wide feet, make sure you're buying shoes in a wide size, even if this means going to a specialty store rather than a discount shoe store. If you spend a lot of time on your feet, try to walk around rather than standing in one place all day.
Contact a podiatrist at a location such as Advanced Foot Clinic for more information.Share