Although it’s easy to miss the early signs of hammertoe, over time, this deformity that occurs at the joint of your toes worsens, making it impossible to wear your favorite shoes and causing painful corns and calluses.
The good news is that board-certified podiatrist Jennifer Tauber, DPM, at New Canaan Podiatry in New Canaan, Connecticut, specializes in helping patients with hammertoe find relief. Here’s a closer look at hammertoe and what you can do about it.
Why do I have hammertoe?
Your toes may be small, but they contain 28 joints that connect your toe bones to the tendons, muscles, and ligaments that help you move. If the muscles in your toes weaken, these joints and structures in your feet experience an increase in pressure.
This added pressure pushes your toes up at the joint, causing them to rise instead of lying flat with the rest of your foot. Your risk of developing hammertoes increases with age, though other factors increase your chances of getting the condition, including:
- Being female
- Having a long second toe (longer than your big toe)
- Having certain diseases, like diabetes or arthritis
- Experiencing trauma or injury to your toe
- Have a family history of hammertoe
Regularly wearing certain shoes, like high heels or shoes with a narrow toe box, can also increase your risk of getting hammertoes.
What can I do about hammertoe?
The best thing you can do about hammertoe is to prevent it from developing in the first place. While you can’t do anything about your genes or family history, you can avoid wearing shoes that increase the risk of getting this painful condition.
If you’re experiencing early symptoms of hammertoe, it’s crucial to schedule a visit with Dr. Tauber at New Canaan Podiatry. Hammertoes don’t resolve on their own, and if left untreated, will worsen over time.
Dr. Tauber examines your feet and discusses your symptoms to confirm a diagnosis of hammertoe, then creates a customized treatment plan based on your symptoms and needs, which may include:
- Wearing the right type of shoes for feet with hammertoe
- Using custom orthotics for better support
- Foot and toe exercises to improve strength and balance
- Taping the affected toe(s) to their neighbors
- Wearing a splint while you sleep to retrain your toe(s)
- Cortisone steroid shots to alleviate toe and foot pain
For patients with severe hammertoe, Dr. Tauber may recommend hammertoe surgery. During this procedure, Dr. Tauber realigns the joint and removes any damaged bone so you can walk pain-free again.
Learn more about preventing or treating hammertoe by contacting Dr. Tauber at New Canaan Podiatry or using the chatbox on our website to connect now.