Do your feet, especially your toes, ache after a long day? If your shoes are too tight or narrow in the toes, you could eventually develop hammertoes. Hammertoes can be extremely painful. The good news is that you can take steps now to support your feet and prevent the development of hammertoes.
The experts at Ankle & Foot Associates, LLC help new and existing patients throughout Georgia and in South Carolina avoid and treat hammertoes. Here’s what our podiatrists want you to know if you’re worried about pain or deformity due to hammertoes.
What causes hammertoes?
Your toes contain tiny joints connecting bones with muscles, tendons, and ligaments. If the muscles in your toes become imbalanced, you can suffer from painful and even debilitating conditions, including hammertoes.
Hammertoes can affect your second through fifth toes. Weakness and imbalance in your muscles, tendons, and ligaments causes one or more of your toes to bend abnormally, turning downward from the middle joint and causing them to look similar to the shape of a hammer.
In addition to strange appearance, hammertoes can become extremely painful to walk on, especially when wearing shoes. You may also see corns or calluses forming on top of the affected joint.
The most common culprits causing hammertoes are tight, constricting shoes like high heels or pointy-toed shoes, but hammertoes can also occur as a result of injuries. Your risk of developing hammertoes increases with age and can result from genetic factors. You’re more likely to develop hammertoes if you’re diagnosed with chronic health conditions such as arthritis and diabetes.
Preventing and treating hammertoes
The best way to prevent hammertoes is to wear comfortable shoes. If you start to see signs of hammertoes, seek medical attention promptly. When you first start to develop hammertoe, you can still move your bent toe. That can change as your hammertoes continue to develop. Eventually, hammertoes can become fixed in their bent position, requiring correction.
However, with some simple foot exercises, and some lifestyle changes, you can fully recover from and even prevent hammertoes from becoming serious enough to need surgery. In addition to changing your footwear to something with comfortable toe room and arch support, the Ankle & Foot Associates, LLC team recommends:
- An exercise and stretching plan to help your toes maintain strength and dexterity
- Custom shoe inserts to support your feet
- X-rays to examine your underlying bone structure
- Treatment for any sores on your affected toes
- Cortisone injections to relieve your foot pain
In severe cases, you might need surgery to realign the delicate components of your affected toe joint and remove any damaged pieces of bone. Frequently, surgery for hammertoes can be performed on an outpatient basis, letting you head home shortly after your procedure.
With early care, you can avoid surgery and prevent your hammertoes from worsening. To consult with the Ankle & Foot Associates, LLC team about your hammertoe symptoms, contact the location convenient to you or send a secure message through our website.