Do you notice that your second, third or fourth toe appears to be bending at the middle joint? This can be an early sign of a deformity known as hammertoe. At Feet First Foot Care Specialists, we want patients to better understand this condition and the importance of seeking treatment early.
What Causes Hammertoes?
Hammertoes are the result of an abnormality in the balance of the muscles in the toes. Factors that can increase the risk of a hammertoe developing include:
- Improperly fitting footwear—particularly shoes that are too tight in the toe box
As the toe becomes more bent, the pain from walking and pressure from shoes increase. Secondary problems like corns and calluses may also develop on the affected toe. In addition to pain and discomfort, however, an even greater reason to seek treatment is to prevent the toe from becoming permanently rigid in that position. Our podiatrist Dr. Adam Mucinskas will prescribe the treatment that is best for you. Some possibilities for relief include:
- Change your shoes—choose footwear made of soft material with roomy toe boxes.
- Stretch it out—exercises can be done to stretch the toe and strengthen surrounding muscles.
- Add some padding—nonmedicated gel cushions and pads can be applied to ease pain and provide a barrier between your foot and your shoe.
- Put it on ice—applying an ice pack to the hammertoe several times a day can reduce inflammation, swelling and pain.
- Ditch high heels—get rid of anything over 2-inches high, because they put too much pressure on your toes. Discard styles with narrow, pointy fronts as well.
- Tape it up—the foot doctor may use taping to correct the imbalance of the muscles in the toe.
- Go custom—an orthotic device prescribed by the podiatrist is made according to a model of your unique foot. The orthotic can help with the muscle imbalance and redistribute weight to relieve pain and inflammation.
A last resort, if conservative measures don’t bring relief, is a surgical procedure to correct the hammertoe.
If you believe you have a hammertoe forming, contact our Cromwell office for an appointment by calling: (860) 632-5499.