What are Hammertoes?

Learn more about this foot deformity and how to prevent the problem from getting worse.

Do you notice that your feet have started to take on a new shape, more specifically, your toes? Over time, all the abuse we put on our feet can truly take its toll if we aren’t careful. If you want to keep your feet healthy, our Ellicott City, MD, podiatrist, Dr. John Murphy, is here to tell you more about hammertoes and why they happen.

What is a hammertoe?

Even though the name alone might make you picture a big hammer-shaped toe, a hammertoe is a deformity that causes one or more toes to bend downward at the middle joint. In more severe cases, these toes can become so bent and fixed in place that they may even start to look claw-like. While this condition may sound serious it is entirely preventable if you take the right measures.

Why do hammertoes occur?

A hammertoe won’t just occur on its own. Some factors have to take place to predispose one or more toes to this deformity. Some risk factors include:

  • Arthritis in the feet
  • Extremely high arches
  • An injury to the toe
  • Bunions
  • Weak tendons or ligaments in the foot
  • Wearing poorly fitted shoes

One of the major culprits of hammertoes are poorly fitted shoes. If you wear shoes that bunch up toes, put pressure on the toes or are generally too small then you are putting your feet at risk for developing hammertoes. Wearing high heels and shoes with pointed toes can also leave women prone to this foot deformity.

How is a hammertoe treated?

The treatment plan our Ellicott City foot doctor offers will really depend on the severity of your hammertoe. If your condition and its symptoms are only mild then more conservative measures such as over-the-counter pain relievers, applying protective padding to the toe when wearing shoes, wearing appropriate shoes and certain stretching exercises can often alleviate pain and discomfort.

However, once a hammertoe becomes rigid (fixed in place) the only way to repair the toe is through surgery. Surgery is only necessary when the hammertoe is severe enough that the toe doesn’t move. During surgery, the toe is realigned and any deformed bone is removed.

Are you dealing with a hammertoe? Want to talk to us about ways to ease hammertoe pain and other symptoms? Then call Maryland Podiatry Center in Ellicott City, MD, today. We are here to help you.

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