What Is Hammer Toe?

June 2, 2021 • • foot carefoot conditionsfoot exercisefoot paintoe conditionstoe pain
What Is Hammer Toe?

Hammer toe is a common condition that can require minor surgery to correct — but some easy steps can also help to prevent it from developing. Hammer toe is a common condition that causes discomfort, callousing, discoloration and, in severe cases, difficulty walking. If the second joint on your toe remains bent, without flattening on its own, there’s a good chance you have hammer toe.  Hammer toe most commonly occurs on your second toe, but the condition can occur in any other toe as well. If you’re experiencing hammer toe, it’s important to learn about the condition, and to address it before it requires a surgical solution.

What causes hammer toe?

Hammer toe can be a painful and frustrating condition, causing discomfort or even pain as you walk. People with hammer toe often experience blistering, bunions, and occasionally pain when they attempt to move the toe.  Many people associate hammer toe with older patients, but the condition can affect people of all ages. Notable causes of hammer toe are:   
  • Muscular imbalance. Hammer toe is usually a result of stiffened muscles and joints in your toes. When muscular imbalances occur, the muscles in your toe are weakened, and they become unable to stretch to move your joints. Uncomfortable footwear, like high heels or tight closed-toed shoes, is a common cause of muscular imbalance in your toes. Muscular imbalance can occur naturally as a result of aging or genetics.
  • Injuries. If you’ve injured your toe, make sure to keep an eye on it as it heals. Stubbed or jammed toes have an increased risk of developing hammer toe, since the muscle may not have the capacity to heal back to its original position. 
  • Diabetes. People with diabetes are more inclined to develop hammer toe due to the effect of diabetes on the nervous system. When the nerves in your feet lose sensation, it can lead to muscular imbalance and hammer toe. 
Many cases of hammer toe can be prevented with the right precautions. Make sure to wear low heeled shoes, and buy shoes with a comfortable amount of wiggle room in the toes.

How can I treat hammer toe?

If you have a mild hammer toe, you may be able to fix it using at-home solutions. If your hammer toe is still able to move on its own, finding loose and comfortable shoes is your first step in improving your muscular balance. You can also try mild stretching exercises and orthopedic cushioning.  Severe cases of hammer toe may require minor surgery to fix. If you cannot move your hammer toe, or if it causes pain each time you walk, your podiatrist can perform hammer toe surgery to straighten the muscle. Corrective procedures usually adjust the tendon in your toe — either transferring tendon from the bottom of your toe to the top, or lengthening your affected tendon. Severe cases of hammer toe can also be treated with joint fusion surgery. To address hammer toe with a team of experienced professionals, visit us at Alamitos-Seal Beach Podiatry Group. With qualified doctors in a comfortable environment, you can get the treatment you deserve. Take action against hammer toe, and request an appointment today. 

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