Hammer Toes

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This V Is Not a Victory Sign!

Do your toes look funny? Not odd-shaped, but bent strangely? If one of your small toes raises in the middle like an upside-down V, you probably have noticed it rubbing against your shoe. You may even have a rough patch of skin from the friction. The problem may start small, but the higher it bends, the more trouble it will give you. Catch it early enough and you may score a victory by keeping discomfort to a minimum. Wait too long, and you could end up with a painful hammer toe deformity that hampers your movements.

If I Had a Hammer…

Where do hammer toes come from? From muscle imbalance. When the muscles that curl the toe up are stronger than those that pull it straight, it can stay in a bent position. You may have inherited a tendency for this imbalance, or had an injury that damaged one of the tendons or muscles. A disease like arthritis can also affect how your ligaments and muscles work. Also, cramming your toes into tight-toed shoes can push them into this position. At first your hammer toes may be flexible and you can straighten them when you aren’t wearing shoes, but untreated, they could turn rigid and painful.

Hammer Toes Impact Your Comfort

You may not have pain at first, only notice that the middle joint of your toe looks red or a bit swollen. Later, as the bend gets more extreme, corns or calluses start to form on the top of the joint, or on the tip of your toe. The corns may make wearing shoes painful, and as the deformity progresses, the toes may become rigid—stuck in that bent position. A cramped, rigid joint hurts, and it can radiate pain into the area behind your toes as well.

Don’t Let Pain Hammer You

You can make choices that reduce your pain. Don’t wear high heels that force your toes towards the front of your shoe. Make sure all your shoes have plenty of room for your toes, and soft uppers and insoles that will “give” a little and decrease the irritation. Applying ice packs to the toes a few minutes several times a day will also help with the pain. If they already have corns, you can use padding to cushion them and keep irritation to a minimum.  Avoid using medicated corn plasters as you can easily get an infection in your toe.

How We Can Help Your Hammer Toe Problem

It is important to seek care at Abbott Foot & Ankle Clinic early on. Chiropodist Tony Abbott can show you exercises that strengthen and stretch muscles so they are able to hold the toes in place. We can fit you with an orthotic that corrects any biomechanical problem that is causing your toes to bend. We can also recommend the right pain reliever or anti-inflammatory medication for you, and may use cortisone injections to treat inflammation and pain. Don’t wait until your bent toes are making you miserable. Give us a call in Collingwood, ON at 705-444-9929 and use our expertise to treat all your foot problems.