Sometimes podiatric problems can snowball, with one leading to another. This can sometimes happen with a condition called hammertoe, where the middle joint of your toe or toes points upward rather than lying flat.
This condition most often affects either the toe next to your big toe or the toe beside your little toe. Having a bunion increases your chances of developing hammertoe since it compresses and crowds your toes.
Living with certain conditions, such as arthritis and diabetes makes you more likely to be affected by hammertoe as well, as does an altered gait or having suffered toe or foot trauma in the past.
Fortunately, the talented podiatry team at Premier Foot & Ankle, with five convenient Texas locations, has extensive experience and expertise in diagnosing and successfully treating hammertoe.
We’re also invested in educating our patients about what you can do to avoid this condition altogether. Our providers want you to be pain-free and able to move around comfortably.
When patients come to Premier Foot & Ankle complaining of hammertoe symptoms, they often mention pain in just their toe or their entire foot, swelling in and around their affected toe, and toe joint stiffness.
Other hammertoe problems include movement limitations in your affected toe and calluses and corns. These symptoms aren’t just nuisances, they can truly affect your quality of life and movement.
Simply paying attention to what’s going on with your feet is a good start in hammertoe prevention. This means taking a good look at your feet regularly and discussing risk factors with your podiatrist, such as having a bunion or living with diabetes, for example. You should already be receiving regular podiatric care and examining and caring for your feet daily if you have diabetes.
The most important and effective steps you can take to prevent hammertoe include wearing the right shoes. Avoid shoes that are tight or constrict your feet in any way. Look for footwear with a wide, deep toe box and excellent arch support, and steer clear of sky-high heels.
It also helps to go shoe shopping late in the day, when your feet are their largest. This means you won’t buy shoes that felt comfortable at 9am but feel tight by 5pm.
Wearing orthotics can also help stop the development of hammertoes. These shoe inserts help with many foot problems, including hammertoe.
Exercises such as toe stretching, extending and curling your toes, and moving them individually help keep your toes flexible and muscles strong, as opposed to stiff and locked.
A corn or callus often forms on the top of a hammertoe. A corn is a small area of skin that’s thickened with a hard center, while a callus is a rough and thickened spot of skin that develops because of irritation caused by friction.
Gentle use of a pumice stone or file after a bath or shower can decrease the size of a corn or callus, so you’re not as uncomfortable when wearing shoes. Putting a small piece of moleskin — a soft, suede-like fabric — atop your corn or callus also protects it from being rubbed and aggravated by your shoe.
If you find yourself dealing with the pain and discomfort of hammertoe, we can help. Your Premier Foot & Ankle podiatrist can offer you a host of effective treatments that bring relief.
Conservative approaches include taking anti-inflammatory medication and applying padding (like moleskin), tape, or a splint to your affected toe. Topical creams can also help.
Your doctor may suggest having custom orthotics made to fit your feet and your feet only. Orthotics can assist with providing support and cushioning exactly where you need it.
We may recommend a course of physical therapy to help stretch your tight muscles and tendons caused by hammertoe. Your physical therapist might also send you home with exercises to keep your toes flexible. Steroid injections are another option that can bring relief.
If you’re struggling with hammertoe symptoms and pain, don’t delay seeking treatment so you can feel great and move well again. Call the Premier Foot & Ankle location closest to you and schedule an appointment today, or book one online anytime. We look forward to treating you.