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What To Do About Hammertoes

Find out more about this joint foot deformity and what to do about it.

Have you noticed that your toes look more bent or curled than usual? While these claw-like toes may look slightly endearing, they could actually be a sign of hammertoes. A hammertoe happens when the muscles of the feet are weak or imbalanced, which causes certain tendons in the feet to shorten and the affected toes to bend. Here's what you should know about hammertoes, including why you should turn to our Brandon, FL, podiatrists Dr. Brandi Johnson and Dr. Mark Leitner if you suspect you have one.

What kinds of hammertoes are there?

There are two kinds of hammertoes: flexible and rigid. In the beginning stages, hammertoes are flexible. This means that you can straighten out the toe on your own. As the deformity advances, it may turn rigid. A rigid hammertoe cannot be straightened out and is permanently bent. This often leads to persistent foot pain.

What causes hammertoes?

Many factors can lead to this muscular imbalance in the feet include,

  • Older age
  • Wearing tight or poorly fitted shoes (a common cause)
  • Heredity
  • An injury to the foot
  • Arthritis

What are the symptoms of hammertoes?

Besides the obvious sign that the affected toe will be bent or curled under, those with a hammertoe may also notice,

  • Joint pain and swelling
  • Difficulty or discomfort when moving the affected toe
  • Pain when wearing shoes
  • Corn that develops on the top of the toe

When should I turn to a doctor?

It’s important to call our Brandon, FL, foot doctors if you are experiencing pain or other symptoms that could mean that you have a hammertoe. The sooner you seek care and treatment, the better. By catching the deformity early and practicing proper foot care, you can prevent the deformity from progressing into a rigid hammertoe.

By avoiding heels and only wearing shoes that give your toes enough space, you could prevent this condition from getting worse. You can also apply a protective pad over the hammertoe to avoid it from rubbing against shoes and developing a corn. Ice the foot or take over-the-counter anti-inflammatories when you experience pain or swelling. If the hammertoe is rigid or isn’t responding to these conservative measures, surgery may be the only option to correct the deformity.

Are you looking for a podiatrist in the Brandon or Tampa, FL, area that can treat your hammertoes? If so, call Advanced Foot & Ankle Specialists today at (813) 571-2977 to schedule an evaluation with our team of experts.

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