A hammer toe is a toe that is abnormally bent downward. It is one of the most common podiatric conditions, affecting the second, third, or fourth toes. When hammer toes first begin to develop, they can typically be corrected with conservative treatment. Unfortunately, if hammer toes are not treated, they can lead to complications that will require surgery.
What causes hammer toe?
Muscle imbalance that puts pressure on the tendons and joints of the toe leads to hammer toe. This is because the ligaments, muscles, and tendons that normally keep the toes straight, are under stress from imbalance. Poor-fitting shoes, injury or trauma, disease (including foot arthritis), genetics, and the overall structure of your foot may make you more prone to developing hammer toe. For instance, those with flat feet or high arches tend to develop hammer toes more frequently.
Can you straighten hammer toes?
If you seek treatment for hammer toe early on, while your toe is still flexible, conservative treatments from Ohio Foot and Ankle Specialists may help. Nonsurgical treatment of hammer toes may include:
- Custom orthotics
- Food pads that cushion and reposition the toe
- Cortisone injections
- Physical exercises
- Changing footwear
Hammer Toe Surgery
Severe cases of hammer toe, where the toe is completely rigid will require hammer toe surgery. Fortunately, our expert podiatrists embrace all the latest surgical technology and techniques to reduce scarring and expedite recovery. Surgery to correct hammer toe involves moving tendons and occasionally involves removing part of the bone. Hammer toe surgery can be performed in our state-of-the-art podiatry offices throughout Ohio.
Preventing Hammer Toe
Hammer toe tends to run in families because it is linked to other hereditary structural issues such as flat feet and high arches. That said, those who have a history of hammer toes should be especially mindful of foot care and foot health. Wear comfortable shoes with a wider deeper toe box. You may also want to use padding in your shoes. Likewise, toe exercises to keep the ligaments and tendons supple can help.