If you have curled toes that are cramped and painful, you are probably suffering from hammertoes. This can be a very frustrating condition to have because not only does it cause discomfort and foot pain, but it can also be difficult to find shoes that you can wear.
What Are Hammertoes?
A hammertoe occurs when the joint in the middle of the toe bends so that your toe resembles a hammer. It can happen to any of your toes, but the second and third are usually the ones affected.
There are two different types: flexible and rigid. Flexible hammertoes mean that they can still be bent back to their normal position and held in place with a splint or tape. Rigid means that they cannot be moved at all because the joint is out of alignment. It is simply too painful or just plain impossible to get them to lay flat. Rigid hammertoes are more of a cause for concern, because they cannot be treated conservatively. Surgery is usually required to fix them.
Besides the pain curled toes can cause, it can be nearly impossible to find shoes that will fit this deformity. They can also lead to secondary conditions—blisters, corns, and calluses—because of the friction of the toe against your shoe.
What Causes Curled Toes?
There are three main reasons for hammertoes to develop. Genes play an important role, because your foot type is determined by genetics. If you have high arches or flat feet you run a higher risk of suffering foot pain from this condition. Arthritis is another contributor that can lead to joints becoming out of alignment. However, the most commonly seen reason is because of injury or trauma to the toes. This can include playing sports, running, or wearing shoes that do not fit your feet properly. Tight, narrow shoes are a big factor leading to bent toes. It is important to wear shoes that offer a lot of wiggle room for your toes so that they are not crammed tightly together, causing your joints to become misaligned.
Treating Your Symptoms
Treatment for hammertoes depends on the type you have. If yours are flexible, then your treatment options are more varied. You will begin by changing your footwear to a pair with a roomier toe box. There are even places you can go that will stretch out your existing shoes so that you don’t need to get a new pair. You can also try an orthotic that can hold your toe in its correct position. There are stretches and exercises you can do every day to adjust your toe. A doctor may be able to tape the toe so that it lays in a normal way.
For rigid hammertoes, your only option may be having surgery to correct the alignment of the joint. This is something you need to discuss further with us. We will help you decide if a surgical procedure is the right course for you. For more information regarding the treatment of your painful, curled toes, call Dr. Mark Gasparini at (516) 804-9038 to make an appointment in our Massapequa, NY office.
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