A hammertoe is a sharp bend in the middle joint of the toe, which causes a deformity by curving or curling the toe downward. While it can impact any toe, most hammertoes occur on the second or third digit. They often cause significant pain, especially when the toe is in constant or extended use, such as on a long walk or run. Below is a brief introduction to hammertoes, their causes, and how to prevent them.
A Guide to Hammertoe Causes & Prevention
All hammertoes result from an imbalance in the muscles, ligaments, and tendons that provide structure to the toe and the rest of the foot. They might be present at birth or they might develop later in life. Ill-fitting shoes are one of the more common causes. High heels and pointed boots, for instance, are two types of footwear that can lead to hammertoe by compressing the toes and pointing them in unnatural positions. Other causes include arthritis, high foot arches, and trauma to the foot, such as breaking a toe.
The easiest way to prevent hammertoes is to wear shoes that fit properly. Opt for flat-heeled shoes with ample arch support and roomy toes over high heels and sharp-toed footwear. If high heels are part of your everyday wardrobe, aim to keep the heel less than two inches; the shorter the heel, the better. When trying on shoes, wiggle your toes to ensure there is proper room for the toes to move around. If possible, choose footwear that is laced or strapped, as these shoes are easier to adjust and more accommodating for the toes.
Hammertoe is a relatively common problem, and there are treatments available. For all your foot-related needs, Progressive Foot Care in Manhattan, NY, is here to help. Since 2014, they’ve been providing New Yorkers with recovery and healing from foot-related issues like hammertoes, collapsed arches, heel pain, and athlete's foot. To schedule an appointment with a foot doctor, call (212) 244-7670 or visit them online. Learn more about their practice by watching this video.