This condition is actually a deformity that happens when one of the toe muscles becomes weak and puts pressure on the toe’s tendons and joints. This pressure forces the toe to become misshapen and stick up at the joint.
There is frequently a corn or callus on top of the deformed toe. This outgrowth can cause pain when it rubs against the shoe.
The term, hammertoe, is commonly used as a general classification for any condition where the toe muscle weakens, causing digital contracture, and resulting in deformity.
Clawtoes are bent at the middle and end joints, while hammertoes are bent at the middle joint only. When it’s mallet toe, the joint at the end of the toe buckles. The skin near the toenail tip develops a painful corn that can eventually result in an ulcer.
Doctors further categorize all forms of hammertoe based on whether the affected toe is flexible, semi-rigid or rigid. The more rigid the toe, the more pain it will cause.
Why hammer toes happen:
Your shoes, your genetic predisposition, an underlying medical condition or all of these can make you susceptible to developing one of these deformities of the toes. The foot type you’re born with predisposes you to developing this type of joint deformity over a lifetime. For many, a flat flexible foot leads to hammertoes as the foot tries to stabilize against a flattening arch. Those with high arches can also form hammertoes as the extensor tendons overpower the flexors. This can also lead to bunions. Hammer toe and bunions do happen in both women and men..
Other ailments. Neuromuscular diseases can contribute to the development of hammertoe, too. People with diabetes can be at increased risk for complications from a hammertoe. Corns can lead to ulceration, which can lead ot infection. Diabetic neuropathy can make it difficult to feel an ulcer.
Hammertoe prevention and treatment tips:
Surgery is the best way to permanently fix a hammertoe. The simple procedure straightens the toe, which makes shoes fit better. And your foot will look more attractive, as well. There are other fixes besides surgery.
These include: Wear sensible shoes. If you don’t want to have surgery to fix your hammertoe, padding along with proper shoes made with a wider and deeper toe box to accommodate your foot’s shape.
Use a pumice stone. The corn or callus that forms on top of the hammertoe can cause discomfort when you wear shoes. Using silicone or moleskin padding on top of the area when wearing shoes.
Do foot exercises to keep toes supple and strengthen the muscles that move them. Exercises like extending, then curling the toes, splaying the toes, and moving the toes individually may help prevent the digital contracture that causes hammertoe. Try these suggestions and see what works best for you