Hammertoe is a deformity in which the ligaments and tendons in the foot have been excessively tightened, causing the second toe and maybe the third and fourth to curl into a contracted claw position. People who suffer from this condition may experience acute pain in flexing the toe, wearing close-fitting footwear, or even knee pain or another discomfort while walking. Severe cases can therefore greatly interfere with everyday life. Thankfully, with a proper diagnosis of your condition, this deformity can sometimes be resolved without serious treatment.
While the affliction sometimes arises due to genetic causes, hammertoe is most frequently encountered in persons who have worn excessively small, ill-fitting, or high-heeled shoes for extended periods of time. Therefore, this painful condition can usually be resolved with a few minor lifestyle adjustments.
The first and most obvious step is to purchase appropriate footwear. For example, orthopedic sneakers that offer well-balanced support are an ideal choice. Women should avoid high heels whenever possible as these shoes tend to both aggravate the malformation and encourage the development of corns on the top of the toe.
While the toe is still tender, you may consider protecting it with specialized padding or shoe insoles in order to expedite the healing process. This will also help to relieve your foot pain.
Finally, gentle exercise can help to loosen the tendons and ligaments around the toe. Light stretching and flexing may restore some of your toe’s flexibility, thereby decreasing discomfort when walking.
Severe cases of this condition usually necessitate surgery. Your podiatrist can provide you with a proper assessment of your affliction in order to determine the specific procedures that you will require. Surgery typically involves the adjustment of the toe structure and/or fusion of the bones surrounding the toe joint. Occasionally, doctors will also remove parts of the bone in order to straighten the toe.