If the Shoe Fits, Wear It to Prevent Hammer Toe

A hammertoe is a toe that has a tendency to stay bent at the middle joint. A muscle and ligament imbalance around the toe joint causes the middle joint to bend and become stuck in a claw-like position.

A toe that curls rather than buckles is also called a hammertoe. Any toe can become a hammertoe. Sometimes all toes become hammertoes because of peripheral nerve or spinal cord problems.

A flexible hammertoe can still be moved and straightened at the joint by hand. Because it is a mild, early stage of the problem, there can be more options for treatment. A rigid hammertoe occurs when tendons in the toe become rigid, pressing the joint out of alignment and making it immovable and extremely painful. Equally painful are the sometimes resulting corns or calluses. Surgery may very well be the only option. With both the flexible hammertoe and the rigid hammertoe, the sooner you receive treatment, the better the result.

The muscle imbalance that causes a hammertoe puts pressure on the toe’s tendons and joints, forcing the toe into the claw-like shape. It can be present at birth or can come about later in life due to arthritis, family history, foot and ankle abnormalities, or injuries, especially those caused by the frequent wearing of ill-fitting shoes. In fact, most cases of hammer toe can be prevented just by wearing properly fitting shoes that give the toes room enough to lie flat next to each other.

Some possible symptoms of hammer toe include the following:
• Corns on the top of a toe or calluses on the bottom of a toe
• Pain or discomfort in the middle of a toe joint, at the base of a toe, on the top of a toe, or in the ball of the foot
• A toe that curls down
• Cramping in a toe and possibly in the foot or leg
• Painful or difficult motion of a toe joint
• Problems finding comfortable shoes
Hammer toes can be very serious for people with diabetes and/or circulation problems. They should be seen by a physician at Jacksonville Orthopaedic Institute Beaches at the first sign of trouble in order to avoid serious developments.

After a diagnosis of hammer toe, your JOI Beaches doctor will work with you to develop a plan of treatment. Treatments include getting properly fitting footwear or using straps, cushions, corn pads, or splints to help relieve symptoms. Foot exercises may be suggested in an effort to restore or maintain the tendons’ flexibility. Severe cases of hammer toe might require corrective surgery to straighten the toe.

If you are noticing changes in one or more toes that could indicate hammer toe, please schedule an appointment for a consultation at Jacksonville Orthopaedic Institute Beaches. One of our highly-skilled physicians will be happy to discuss your symptoms, make a diagnosis, and develop a treatment plan for you. Contact us today at 904-241-1204 or online at www.joibeaches.com.

Request Appointment
................................................................................................... ...................................................................................................

Exclusive Sports Medicine Provider for:

Jacksonville JaguarsJacksonville Sharks
Jacksonville University

FSCJ Blue Wave