Hammer toes are characterized by the “V”-shape that they adopt. Any toe that will not be able to curl, but tends to buckle, is considered a hammer toe. The condition occurs in any toes, but it occurs mainly in women due to the kind of shoes that they wear.
Hammer toes can be broken down into two groups. There are those in which the toe can flex at the joint, which are easier to treat, and these are called flexible hammer toes. Rigid hammer toes cannot bend at the middle joint, and these require surgery to correct the condition.
What causes hammer toes?
Usually, the muscles of the toe are in perfect balance, thereby keeping the toe straight. However, if there is some imbalance, then there will be a problem in the development of the muscles. This puts a lot of pressure on the tendons resulting in hammer toes. The muscles can become imbalanced due to genetic predisposition, since the condition is prevalent in flat-footed people. The condition can also be caused by arthritis, injury to the toes, poorly–fitted shoes, shoes with extremely high heels, shoes that have a pointed front, etc.
What are the symptoms of hammer toes?
People who have toes that are predominantly in the upside-down “n” shape could be suffering from the condition. The patient will have corns at the middle joint of the toes. The joint will also swell frequently. There will be a lot of pain in the toe joint as you try to put on closed shoes. There is a lot of pain when you try to move the toe, and the movement will be difficult. There will also be some pain in the ball area that is under the toe.
How can hammer toe pain be reduced ?
There are some things that you can do to reduce the pain associated with hammer toes. You should wear shoes that have a broad front, and are high enough to accommodate the bent toe. You should also adopt wearing low-heeled shoes, and these should be appropriate for the activity that you are doing. You can also relieve the pain through massaging the toe. If the toes are swollen then you should use cold compresses for relief. You can also use toe pads to place at the top of the bent toes to give some relief.
What is the treatment for hammer toes?
The treatment of hammer toes will depend on the severity of the problem. This is the reason why you should seek treatment before the problem becomes severe.
By wearing the right kind of shoes, a mild case of hammer toe will slowly rectify itself, as the balance of the muscles is restored. A doctor can give steroid injections to relieve the pain, and some medication to reduce inflammation of the joint. You can also seek a custom shoe-insert from a podiatrist which will help reduce the pain, and also help the muscles heal faster.
In severe cases, only surgery can rectify the hammer toe. The surgeon will remove part of the bone so the joint can be aligned once more. In some cases, the whole bone is held in calipers that keep the joint in its proper position.
Prevention of Hammer Toe
You should always take care of your feet. Most people do not pay attention to their feet, and will dismiss any discomfort as being from walking too much, or standing too much. They may not realize that the shoes that they are wearing could be the cause of the pain. You should also visit a podiatrist regularly, so he or she can monitor the health of your feet. If you have diabetes, and other medical conditions, then you should be extra careful about your feet. You should invest in a pedicure every once in w while so they can give your feet some massages. This will help in keeping good circulation in your feet.
Apart from circulation, you should always wear sensible shoes. If you wear shoes that do not allow your feet to be free, you will have issues with your feet. Avoid shoes that force your toes into a cramped position. Yu should also avoid shoes that have high heels. These put a lot of pressure on the toes and this could lead to hammer toe.
You should not look for shoes by size. The sizes of shoes will be different among different manufacturers. Go by the best fit, whenever you are shopping for shoes. Once you feel that your feet are comfortable, and not pinched in any way, then that is the shoe to buy. Remember to match socks to shoes, such that is you are wearing sports shoes, then you should wear sports socks. The best fitting shoe should not have any movement in the heel of your foot.
Hammer Toe Pictures