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Hammertoe

Hammertoe is a foot condition that affects tendons in the toes and joints, making them feel tight and painful, and causing them to appear deformed.

What is a hammertoe?

Hammertoe syndrome is a broad term employed to define symptoms and changes concerning the toes. Hammertoes usually include the second toe; however, more than one toe can be impacted. When a joint on a toe, typically the toe adjacent to the big toe or the little toe points up rather than straight, there may be an indication of hammertoe.

The condition is a malformation that occurs when a muscle in the toe becomes weak, putting stress on the tendons and joints. This tension can cause the toe to grow disfigured and to point upward at the joint.

There is often a painful corn or a callus on top of the affected toe.

There are two types of hammertoe:

Flexible hammertoes – In the development stage, the afflicted toes are still pliable and can still be moved at the joint.

Rigid hammertoes – As the problem progresses, the condition becomes more serious. As the tendons tighten, the joints become misaligned and fixed, and difficult to move.

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What are some hammertoe symptoms?

  • Hammertoe symptoms include:
  • Pain in the bent toe.
  • Corns on top of the joint.
  • Swelling and redness at the contracture joint.
  • The joint is constrained or painful to move.
  • Pain in the ball of the foot at the base of the affected toe.

Why is hammertoe painful?

Hammertoes are caused by irregular muscle tension in the toes, which results in increased tendon and joint pressure on the foot. Type of shoes, genetic bias, an underlying medical condition, or any combination of these could make it possible for hammertoe to manifest.

Poor-fitting shoes – Narrow, ill-fitting shoes, especially high heels, provide almost no arch support, putting undue pressure on the toes and joints. As a result, there are more instances of hammertoes found in women than men. The condition will only get worse if the shoes are not adjusted correctly, or better yet replaced with flat, broad toed shoes.

Genetics – Genetics plays a large roll in influencing the development of this kind of joint disfigurement over time. Hammertoes may be the result of flat, flexible feet that attempt to balance against a flattening arch. Wide arched feet may also form hammertoes because the extensor tendons overwhelm the flexors. These foot characteristics are often inherited from one or both parents.

Additional ailments – Neuromuscular diseases, too, may contribute to hammertoe development. Persons with diabetes are at increased risk of hammertoe complications. A corn or other lesions indicates too much pressure on the toes. Those with diabetes suffering from neuropathy, reduced blood flow, or infected corns and ulcerations can experience the loss of a toe or even the foot if left unattended.

Treatment may be as simple as changing footwear, especially if the toe is still flexible. Pads and shoe inserts can often reduce pain. If traditional treatments aren’t effective, a foot specialist may recommend a surgical procedure.

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