How Do Hammertoes Form?

By University Foot Center
December 13, 2016
Category: Podiatry
Tags: Hammertoes  

Not sure how you developed painful hammertoes? Dr. Steventon Scott Wagner and Dr. Lynette Renae Mehl, your Columbus, OH hammertoespodiatrists, explain how hammertoes form and share information about the condition.

What are hammertoes?

Hammertoes generally occur when the first or second joint of a toe bends at a right angle. The condition is called "hammer" toe because the bent toe looks a little like a hammer. Hammertoes can affect all of your toes except your big toe. When hammertoes first develop, they're flexible and usually respond well to treatment. If you ignore them during this stage, they can eventually become rigid, which makes treating them more challenging.

What causes hammertoes?

Hammertoes can occur if you have an inherited imbalance in the muscles or tendons of your toes. They can also develop if you have arthritis in your toes, previously injured your toes or wear shoes that are too tight. Too tight shoes place pressure on your joints causing them to bend. Imbalances also cause increased joint pressure that can lead to hammertoes.

What are the symptoms of hammertoes?

In addition to a visible bend in your toe, you may also experience pain, redness or swelling. Wearing shoes can be uncomfortable and can cause corns and calluses if the top of your hammertoe rubs against the top of your shoe.

What can I do about my hammertoe?

Toe exercises will help stretch your muscles and tendons and prevent the hammertoe from becoming permanent. Wearing shoes with plenty of room in the toe area will reduce pain and pressure. If you have corns or calluses, padding can make wearing shoes more comfortable. Ice and over-the-counter pain medications may be helpful in relieving pain caused by hammertoes.

If your hammertoe doesn't improve, your Columbus foot doctor can help you by:

  • Prescribing anti-inflammatory medication or offering cortisone injections
  • Fitting you with orthotics, custom-made shoe inserts that support your toes and ease your pain
  • Performing surgery if your problem is severe and other treatment methods don't help

You don't have to live with hammertoes. Call Dr. Wagner and Dr. Mehl, your Columbus, OH podiatrists, at (614) 488-9478 to schedule an appointment to learn about the best treatment options for you.

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