Hammertoes: Symptoms, Causes, and Treatment
What Are Hammertoes?
Hammertoe is a deformity where, instead of pointing forward, your toe bends downward. This bend occurs in the middle joint. Also known as mallet toe, the condition most often affects the second, third, and fourth toes.
Hammertoes may cause pain, particularly when moving the affected joint. You may also experience corns or calluses due to the raised toe joint repeatedly rubbing against your shoe.
What Causes Hammertoes?
Hammertoe Risk Factors
Can You Prevent Hammertoes?
Yes, you can prevent hammertoes – and many other common foot problems – simply by wearing comfortable shoes that fit well. Follow these tips:
And remember, shoes should feel comfortable immediately. Ignore that voice from your childhood telling you you’ll break them in. When you try on new shoes, walk around in them for at least a few minutes while you shop. This gives you a much better idea of fit and comfort.
Hammertoe Diagnosis and Treatment
Your podiatrist diagnoses hammertoe with a simple examination of your foot. He or she may also order x-rays, though, to determine whether an issue with your bones or joints caused your condition.
For less severe cases, treatment typically begins with a change in footwear. Your doctor may also recommend orthotics or pads to help relieve pressure on the affected toe. If the joint retains some level of flexibility, your podiatrist may suggest exercises to help strengthen and stretch the toe. Typically, these involve picking up small or lightweight objects, such as marbles and towels, using your toes.
Surgical treatment for hammertoes typically involves releasing the tendon that’s causing your toe to remain bent. Straightening the toe may also require removing a piece of bone.