Hammertoe is a foot condition that gets its name because it forces your joint to stay upward, making your toe look like a hammer. It’s easy to miss early signs of hammertoe; as time passes, this deformity worsens without treatment.
The bad news is hammertoe can trigger other painful foot conditions, like corns, or cause generalized pain and discomfort in your toes. Plus, it can make it impossible to wear your favorite shoes or stay on your feet.
But the good news is that board-certified podiatrist Jennifer Tauber, DPM, at New Canaan Podiatry in New Canaan, Connecticut, specializes in helping people with hammertoe find relief. Take a moment to learn what causes hammertoe and the different treatment options available to help.
Understanding the causes of hammertoe
Twenty-eight joints connect your toe bones to your feets’ tendons, muscles, and ligaments. It’s easy to develop imbalances in the muscles of your toes based on the way you walk or the shoes you wear.
When this happens, it can cause different problems with your feet—including hammertoe. With weak muscles, your feet sustain more pressure, which can push on the joints.
Over time, your toe joint can become frozen in an upward position. This makes your toes rise at the joint instead of resting flat with your foot, causing your toe to look like a hammer.
People can get hammertoes for different reasons. Being female and getting older increases your risk of developing the condition, as do several other factors, such as:
- Having a family history of hammertoes
- Having a second toe that’s longer than your big toe
- Undergoing trauma or injury to your toe
- Having certain diseases, such as diabetes or arthritis
- Regularly wearing high heels
- Regularly wearing shoes with a narrow-toe box
If you suspect you have hammertoe, don’t wait to seek help from a podiatrist. Hammertoe won’t get better on its own, and over time it can worsen, making it more challenging to treat.
Preventing and treating hammertoe
The best thing you can do for hammertoe is to stop it from developing in the first place. You may be unable to do much about your gender, age, toe length, or family history. But you can avoid wearing the types of shoes linked to the condition and do what you can to avoid diseases like type 2 diabetes.
You can also schedule an appointment with Dr. Tauber at the first signs of hammertoe when you’re still able to move your bent toe. This way, she can provide customized recommendations to help stop hammertoe from progressing.
For patients struggling with hammertoe, Dr. Tauber assesses your condition to recommend the most effective treatments possible. Different therapies and treatments for hammertoe include:
- Cortisone steroid shots to alleviate toe and foot pain
- Wearing a splint or taping the hammertoe
- Foot and toe exercises to improve strength and balance
- Wearing shoes appropriate for feet with hammertoe
- Wearing custom orthotics for better support
If your hammertoe is severe, Dr. Tauber may recommend surgical treatment. During hammertoe surgery, Dr. Tauber removes any damaged bone and re-aligns the joint, allowing you to enjoy pain-free movement.
Don’t wait to seek help for hammertoe! Schedule an appointment online or over the phone with Dr. Tauber at New Canaan Podiatry today!