A common foot ailment called hammertoe affects about 3% of the US population or 7 million people. Hammertoe is a foot deformity that is caused by an imbalance of the ligaments, tendons and muscles in the toes. A person with a hammertoe will notice an abnormal bend in their 2nd, 3rd or 4th toes. Causes of hammertoe include high heeled shoes that put excessive weight on the toes, shoes that crowd your toes or trauma to the toes. Age, toe length, arthritis and diabetes can also contribute to a hammertoe. Women tend to have hammertoe more than men.

There are two basic types of hammertoe; They are:

  • Flexible – where the toe can still bend. At this point more conservative treatments can be applied
  • Rigid – when the toe no longer bends, and surgery is usually recommended

Ways to avoid hammertoe are:

  • Wear proper fitting shoes with plenty of toe room
  • Wear low heels
  • Buying shoes at the end of the day when your feet are larger due to exercise
  • Always check your foot size when buying footwear

It is important for you to see your podiatrist who will likely take an x-ray of the area to check the bone structure in the foot and toes.

Treatments for hammertoe include:

  • Roomier shoes especially in the toe area
  • Orthotics that are custom made for your specific condition
  • Foot pads that are over the counter
  • Toe exercises like picking up marbles with your toes
  • Surgery to relieve pressure on the toes

If you have also developed corns or calluses on the overlapping toes, stay away from store bought corn removal products which often contain acid and can damage your feet. See your podiatrist for treatment. They are specifically trained to handle these issues. Do not run the risk of infection.

If you believe you have hammertoe or have any other concerns about your feet, make an appointment with Dr. Melissa Robitaille or Dr. Todd Newsom at Atlantic Foot and Ankle Specialists, 114 Canal St, Suite 703, Pooler, GA, 31322. Call us at (912) 988-3323. They will assess your condition and apply the most appropriate treatment for you.

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