Hammer Toe: Causes and Treatment Options

May 21, 2021
Hammer Toe: Causes and Treatment Options

Having healthy feet is incredibly important to be able to move around the way that you need and want to. Numerous conditions can affect your feet, causing pain and difficulties that can hinder your daily life. One such condition that alters one or more toes is called hammer toe.

What is a hammer toe? Toes are meant to point straight forward for the most part, but a hammer toe has become fixed in a bent or curved position. This condition affects the toe joint that is furthest from the toenail. Any toe can be affected, but it is most common in the second and third toes. There are a few different factors and conditions that can contribute to hammer toe. Treatment is available to address the issue.

How Does Hammer Toe Develop?

Many cases of hammer toe are caused by the person themselves. One of the most common factors is wearing shoes that are too tight or that come to a restricting point, like high heels. These shoes keep forcing the toes together and do not allow the muscles to properly stretch. If shoes like this are worn frequently, it can lead to the muscles being unable to stretch back out by themselves.

Other foot conditions can contribute to the formation of a hammer toe, such as bunions, toe injuries, and high foot arches. In every case of hammer toe, the two tendons that maintain the toe alignment are altered for some reason, which leads to a bend in the toe.

Risk Factors for Hammer Toe

Certain conditions can make an individual predisposed to developing a hammer toe. The first of these is genetics, as those with a family history of hammer toe are more likely to develop it themselves. The risk of developing a hammer toe increases as people get older. Toe length can also play a role. Those with longer big toes may be more likely to develop a hammer toe. Certain medical conditions increase the risk of hammer toe, including diabetes and arthritis.

Treatment for Hammer Toe

Fortunately, most cases of hammer toe are easy to treat. Whatever contributed to the condition needs to be remedied, such as wearing better-fitting shoes, addressing a high arch, or treating bunions. Once these types of issues are addressed, your toe will be able to stretch out more, which may begin to resolve the hammer toe. There are also shoe inserts and other devices that can be used to realign the toes. If it is a severe case, surgical intervention may be required.

Fashion is important to many people, but it is never worth sacrificing the proper function of your body in any way. The next time you are looking at heels or tight-fitting shoes, consider what repercussions they may lead to down the road. Be sure to wear good fitting and comfortable shoes and address any other conditions that could lead to hammer toe. The more that you take care of your feet, the better they will carry you.

Having Trouble with Your Feet or Ankles?

If you are having any pain or difficulties with your feet or ankles, Diablo Foot & Ankle wants to help. We are trained in handling many different foot and ankle conditions and want to get you back to the best possible functionality. Give us a call today with any questions that you may have regarding our treatments or services.