Hammer toes are an uncomfortable condition in which the big toe becomes bent at the joint. There are two types of hammer toe: flexible hammer toe and rigid hammer toe. A flexible hammer toe is a hammer toe that is still developing and there is still some movement in the joint. A rigid hammer toe, on the other hand, is a condition in which the joint has become immobile. In this case, the only treatment option is surgery.
Clearly, it is better to catch hammer toe early, while there is still a chance to treat the condition before it becomes severe. Even better yet, try to avoid hammer toes altogether. Whether you have begun to develop a hammer toe or don’t have any symptoms, you can care for your feet by following some simple steps to prevent hammer toes. Read on to learn more about hammer toes and how you can avoid them.
What Causes Hammer Toes?
An imbalance of the muscles in the toes can cause hammer toe to develop. Typically, this imbalance occurs as the result of pressure on the joints and tendons in the toes. A muscle imbalance in the foot can be caused by arthritis, and it can also be caused by wearing shoes that are too tight. This pressure on the feet forces the toe into an unnatural position, and if put in this position repeatedly for an extended period of time, the unnatural position of the joint can actually become permanent. Hammer toe can also develop following an injury or trauma to the foot.
Symptoms of Hammer Toe
The symptoms of hammer toe include the following:
- Pain or discomfort on the top of the toe, especially when wearing shoes;
- The development of corns on top of the toe;
- Redness, irritation, and swelling on top of the toe joint;
- Difficulty moving the toe joint; and
- Pain in the bottom of the foot near the base of the toe.
Caring for Your Feet with Hammer Toe
- Use hammer toe pads to protect the joint from friction and pressure.
- Choose shoes that have a deep toe box to allow space for the bent toe joint.
- Avoid shoes that have a narrow, pointy toe.
- Avoid high heeled shoes. If you must wear high heels, choose a heel that is under two inches and try to wear it only for brief periods of time.
- When inflammation, swelling, or pain are present, apply ice packs to the hammer toe.
Preventing Hammer Toe
Many of the steps involved in preventing hammer toe are the same as the steps that one would take to care for feet with hammer toe. Hammer toe occurs when feet are compressed into shoes that are too tight; ironically, this actually causes the feet (or the joint of the big toe, at least) to get larger. Start off by wearing shoes that fit appropriately. Pointy, high-heeled shoes constrict your feet and can cause hammer toe as well as bunions and other conditions.
Every pair of shoes that you wear should be spacious enough that you can easily move your toes around inside the shoes. If you have another foot condition or an injury to the feet, consider using orthotic devices. Orthotics (custom arch supports) will help to support and align your feet so that they get the perfect fit to help you avoid hammer toes and other problems.
If you have hammer toes or would like to avoid them, visit Foot Solutions UK. We have a wide selection of comfortable, supportive shoes, and we can even custom make arch supports for you.