Does one of your toes pointing down instead of out? Does it make an upside-down "V" at the first joint? If so...ouch..you likely have a hammer toe. A hammer toe generally refers to any bending or flexion of the toe beyond normalposture. Hammertoes result from muscle imbalance which causes the ligamentsand tendons to become unnaturally tight. Causes include the following:
* Genetics-You may have inherited a tendency to develop hammer toes. Peoplewith flat feet or high arches are more prone to hammer toes.
* Injury to the toe-Poorly fitting shoes are the main culprit. If shoes are tootight, too short, or too pointy, they push the toes out of balance. Pointy, highheeledshoes put particularly severe pressure on the toes. Women are morelikely than men to get hammer toe pain caused by their footwear.
* Arthritis-The balance around the toe in people with arthritis is disrupted. Common symptoms of hammer toes include pain or irritation of the affected toewhen wearing shoes; formation of corns (buildup of skin) on the top, side, or endof the toe, or between the toes; redness and swelling at the joint; restricted or painfulmotion of the toe joint; and pain in the ball of the foot at the base of the affected toe.
Here are several preventative steps and possible treatment options for hammertoes:
* Changes in Foot wear-Choose comfortable shoes with deep, high, andbroad toe boxes (toe area) that can accommodate hammer toes.
* Fit is Important-Avoid wearing shoes that are too tight or narrow. Childrenshould have their shoes properly fitted on a regular basis, because their feet canoften outgrow their shoes rapidly.
* Trimming Corns and Calluses-Trimming should be done by Dr. Cohen. Never attempt to trim corns or calluses yourself because you can runthe risk of cuts and infection. Dr. Cohen knows the proper way totrim corns to bring you the greatest benefit.
* Padding Corns and Calluses-Padding minimizes pain and allows the patientto continue a normal, activelife. Dr. Cohen can recommend padsdesigned to shield corns fromirritation.
* Surgical Options-Severalsurgical procedures are availableto address hammer toes.For less severe hammer toes, the surgery will remove the bony prominence andrestore normal alignment of the toe joint, thus relieving pain. Severe hammertoes may require more complex surgical procedures. As one would imagine,surgery is the last resort.
For more information about hammertoes call our office to make an appointment, 615.662.6676
*Information adapted from the APMA website