Hammertoe is a condition in which any or all of the three middle toes is permanently bent outward in the shape of a hammer. This shape results from a deformity that affects the proximal interphalangeal joint of those toes. Other toe joints may be affected by similar deformities, called claw toe and mallet toe. For the most part, people are not born with this condition; the shoes that people wear can sculpt the shapes of the feet. It can occur if:
- the shoes are too small in either direction for the feet, or
- they have heals that are too high— the toes are squished into the front of the shoes. The muscles that straighten them out may cease to function.
Diseases of the feet, such as bunions, may also result in deformity. A bunion is when the big toe is bent laterally, often causing swelling in the neighboring tissue. Diseases centered elsewhere in the body may also give rise to hammertoe. These include:
- Charcot- Marie- Tooth disease— known also by a variety of other names, including hereditary motor and sensory neuropathy. This inherited disease progressively causes the muscles in the feet, hands, and other places to wear away.
- Friedrich’s ataxia— another inherited disease characterized by degeneration of the spinal cord nerves
- rheumatoid arthritis
Hammertoe is bad for the feet and the whole body. It does not feel comfortable. And it makes it difficult for the victim to balance properly, which can result in falls and injury. The condition can also result in the toes developing painful corns or calluses.
Podiatrists treat hammertoe in a variety of ways. Calluses may be treated simply by putting padding on them. The patient may also have special shoes prescribed for him, with plenty of ‘wiggle room’ in the toe boxes. Alternatively, the podiatrist may recommend what size and shape of shoe fits best. Symptoms of hammertoe may be relieved with nonprescription medicated pads. The podiatrist may prescribe an exercise routine to straighten the toes. In the most extreme cases, surgery may be required to correct the deformity. And if it is the result of diabetes or some other disease, the patient’s physician may be called upon to treat that.
How to get medical help for hammertoes in Colorado Springs
If you live in the Colorado Springs and you suspect you’re suffering from hammertoes, you can get help at Intermountain Foot & Ankle. Give us a call and set up an appointment to talk with board-certified podiatrist, Dr. Kerry Berg. Consultations are covered by most insurances.