Hammertoe is a foot deformity that affects the joints around the middle three toes. It may also impact the pinky toe occasionally. The problem develops when there is a strain on your muscles and ligaments, causing your digits' middle joint to bend and lock in a manner that resembles a hammer. If you’re concerned that you might have it, see a foot specialist for prompt care. The following gives an overview of this condition.
Your podiatrist may diagnose you with a flexible hammertoe. This means that the joint still moves and hasn’t yet progressed to a more severe stage. Without treatment, though, rigid hammertoe may eventually develop, producing the telltale hammer shape.
Wearing tight shoes can cause people to develop this condition over time. When the toe box is too snug to support the toes in their natural formation comfortably, it might force them to bend uncomfortably. A variety of injuries, like stubbed or broken toes, can also affect the structure of the ligament.
A person’s risk of developing the condition grows with age, and women are generally more susceptible than men. People with diabetes may develop nerve damage with time, which can impact their ability to feel their feet, which means they are less likely to take steps to stop hammertoe.
Some people experience considerable pain, especially when they’re wearing shoes as the raised area rubs against the toe cap. Calluses may form on the affected area, too, due to repeated friction that develops between the skin and the shoe.
Without treatment, the skin may also feel perpetually inflamed and uncomfortable. Visibly, the toe takes on a bent appearance that cannot be straightened even with effort.
In the case of flexible hammertoe, foot specialists may advise you to swap your existing shoes to more comfortable footwear with a spacious toe box. Stretches might also be prescribed to help loosen the affected joint.
In some instances or rigid hammertoe, however, surgery is the only way to resolve the situation. During the procedure, your specialist will realign the structure of the toe and remove any deformities.
Are you experiencing hammertoe? Turn to the team at Foot & Ankle Specialists in Cincinnati, OH. Proudly serving clients throughout the Tri-State area, these professionals offer everything from foot care to ankle pain treatment. Visit them online to learn more about their podiatric services, or call (513) 769-4408 to schedule an appointment.