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Hammertoe Treatment and Causes

February 15, 2016

Hammertoe Treatment

Hammertoe is a painful condition that affects men and women of all ages, but fortunately, it is treatable. Being able to recognize the symptoms of hammertoe and knowing what to do about it can help you seek the help you need in order to correct your problem.

What is a hammertoe?

Hammertoe is a condition that causes a toe to bend or curl at the middle joint and stay that way. Hammertoes occur when the ligaments around the joints of the toes become imbalanced. In the beginning stages, hammertoe is “flexible,” meaning that the middle joint can still be bent back to its original position. If the condition is allowed to progress, the hammertoe becomes “rigid,” meaning it can no longer be bent back to its original position. This happens when the joint is pushed out of alignment.

What causes a hammertoe?

Hammertoe can have different causes. Some people are affected by hammertoe because of the shape of their foot, which may be flat or have high arches. Patients with arthritis may also experience hammertoe. 

Additionally, wearing shoes that force the toes into an unnatural position may also cause hammertoe. Wearing pointed shoes, tight-fitting shoes and shoes that are simply too small can all cause hammertoe, if the shoes are worn repeatedly over many months or years.

What health problems are associated with a hammertoe?

Patients with hammertoes often experience physical discomfort when the tops of their toes rub against the tops of their shoes. Women are more likely to experience discomfort from their hammertoes than men because of the characteristics of women’s footwear.

Hammertoe can cause people to assume compensatory postures in order to avoid discomfort, which can lead to additional foot problems. In addition, hammertoe can lead to foot sores and infections, especially for patients with poor circulation and/or diabetes.

What can be done to treat a hammertoe?

Treatment for hammertoe depends on the severity of the problem. As soon as the condition is diagnosed, a podiatrist may recommend special shoes and inserts to prevent the condition from worsening. If caught early enough, hammertoe may be reversed with foot exercises and a toe splint. If hammertoe progresses to the rigid stage before treatment, surgery is a standard treatment.

Pain from hammertoe can build upon itself once the problem develops. It may start off as a small issue, but it can become worse as time goes on. If not corrected in a timely manner, hammertoe can negatively impact your quality of life. If you’re experiencing symptoms of hammertoe, don’t wait to get treatment. Contact Anchorage Foot and Ankle Clinic right away. Our experienced podiatrist, Dr. Kaufman, can diagnose your problem and start you on a treatment plan right away. For more information, call us today at (907) 344-2155.


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