Causes of Hammertoes

Hammer Toe: Causes, Symptoms and TreatmentA number of lifestyle factors are responsible for hammertoes. Here is what you need to know about the causes, symptoms, and treatment of hammertoes.

If your second toe is bent downward in a claw-like position, you may have a condition called hammertoe. Although hammertoe can affect any of your toes, it’s most commonly seen in the second toe.

What Causes Hammertoes?

Hammertoe is frequently caused by wearing shoes that don’t fit correctly. In particular, shoes that are narrow, too tight, or too short may cause the toes to cramp, and when ill-fitting shoes are worn repeatedly hammertoes may develop.

These types of ill-fitting shoes force your toe into a bent position. Over time, your tendons and muscles tighten and shorten, causing the characteristic downward bend. Hammertoe is often seen in women who wear high heels or poor-fitting shoes or in children who continue to wear shoes they have outgrown. Though rare, in some cases the condition is present at birth.

Symptoms of hammertoe include:

  • Pain in the toe
  • One or more toes that are bent downward from the middle joint
  • The toe becomes unable to straighten without support

Additionally, corn often develops on the top of the affected toe and a callus often forms on the sole of the foot.

Treatment and Prevention of Hammertoes

You can prevent hammertoes from ever developing by paying close attention to your footwear choices and keeping your feet comfortable. Avoiding high heels, wearing wide shoes, and wearing the right-sized shoes can help completely prevent a hammertoe from occurring.

To treat mild or moderate hammertoe, your Boca Raton, Florida foot doctor can make a device called a straightener or foot regulator. If you’re still not able to straighten your toe, exercises such as picking up a towel with your toes can help. In children who have a mild hammertoe, a foot physician can treat the condition by splinting the toe affected.

For more severe hammertoe conditions, your Boca Raton foot surgeon may need to operate to straighten the toe joint, which may consist of cutting or relocating ligaments and tendons or fusing together the bones on each side of the joint.