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Hammertoe: Causes, Symptoms & Treatment

Many of us are on our feet constantly, so it comes as no surprise that our feet are open to a vast array of injuries which can affect our daily lifestyle. One of the most common deformities involves the bending of one or both joints in the second, third, fourth, or fifth toes. This is known as hammertoe and can put pressure on the toe when wearing shoes, causing problems to develop.

What Causes Hammertoe?

People can suffer from hammertoe for a variety of different reasons. These include wearing ill-fitting shoes, rheumatoid arthritis and injuries to the foot. Hammertoe can also be suffered among those with poor circulation and diabetes.

There are two forms of hammertoe a person can experience. The first is known as a flexible hammertoe, which means the toes can still move at the joint. This is seen as a less-severe form of hammertoe, and can often be rectified easily.

Rigid hammertoe is seen as more serious. If the tendons become too rigid, it often means the toe cannot be moved. In this instance, surgery is often required to rectify the problem.

What Are the Symptoms of Hammertoe?

People can experience a number of different symptoms, but overall you should seek specialist medical help or advice if you have any of the following symptoms:

  • A toe stuck in an upside-down ‘V’ position
  • Experiencing pain at the top of a bent toe
  • Difficulty and pain when attempting to move the toe joint
  • Toe joints taking on an inflamed red colour
  • Pain on the ball of the foot beneath the bent toe

When Should I Seek Specialist Help?

Generally, if you experience any of the aforementioned symptoms, it can be a good idea to at least seek medical advice in the first instance. Chiropody and podiatry clinics are often used by those who suffer from hammertoe, as they can offer up-to-date assessment methods, thus ensuring that the right kind of diagnosis is made.

Moving forward, the clinic can ensure that the treatment being delivered is effective, with clinics often looking for the cause of the problem as opposed to the symptoms associated with it.

Are There Any Steps I Can Take?

Seeking professional help is the most important step to take. But there are some other steps a person suffering from hammer toe can take to help relieve the pain.

  • Ensure you wear shoes that fit, ill-fitting shoes will only inflame the condition
  • Padding out areas around the bony part of the toe can help relieve pain also
  • Some specialists may prescribe medication that can help reduce the inflammation and pain
  • If you suffer from a series of foot problems, it can be a good idea to measure your feet each time you purchase new shoes

Taking care of our feet is just like taking care of any other part of our body, in that we need to inspect them regularly and seek professional help as and when it is required. Simply ignoring the problem will only mean that it gets worse as time goes on.