Hammertoe occurs when the joints of the middle toes get stuck in a bent position that makes the toes take on a hammer-like appearance. This condition can cause pain and the formation of calluses on the top of the toe, which can make treatment more challenging. Many at-home remedies can curb the symptoms of hammertoe, but often, the pain makes many sufferers seek out professional treatment.

At Foot & Ankle Surgical Associates, our goal is to help our patients get back on their feet without pain. Our experts have experience in all kinds of common podiatry concerns, including hammertoe, claw toe and mallet toe concerns. 

What Is a Hammertoe?

When you have a hammertoe, your joints are unable to lie flat. The middle joint of your toe becomes raised due to abnormal pulling of foot muscles and tendons. Hammertoes are similar to claw toes, which occur in the first joint of toes, and mallet toes, which affect the third joint.

Hammertoes have three stages of development:

  • Flexible: When a hammertoe starts to form, you can still move the joint. Your joint may feel a little stiffer than normal, but you’re more likely to notice hammertoe by its appearance at this point.
  • Semirigid: The hammertoe starts to get stiffer, and it may be challenging and painful to flex.
  • Rigid: All soft tissue has hardened to the point where you can no longer move the joint.

When your hammertoe reaches semirigid or rigid status, you may need professional treatments like surgery or custom orthopedic devices. It’s best to see a hammertoe doctor as soon as you notice symptoms. Common signs of a hammertoe include:

  • Joint rigidness.
  • Pain near the bent toe or in the ball of your foot.
  • Inflammation, redness and calluses.

What Causes Hammertoe?

In short, hammertoes form when the muscles in a toe become unbalanced, with one muscle doing the work of the others. A few factors can cause this kind of muscle imbalance:

  • Shoes: Hammertoes are common in people whose shoes don’t fit properly or put undue stress on the toes. For this reason, women are more likely to get hammertoe than men. High heels are the biggest culprit. However, any shoe that puts pressure on the toes can increase your risk.
  • Trauma: It’s uncommon, but a serious foot injury can cause a hammertoe, especially when the trauma is centralized to your toes.
  • Neuromuscular conditions: Diseases that can affect feet and blood flow can put you at risk for hammertoe. These include diabetes, arthritis, polio and alcoholism.
  • Genetics: If hammertoe runs in your family, you’re more likely to develop it. Genetic conditions that can predispose you to hammertoes include high arches, flat feet and long second toe bones.

Find Hammertoe Doctors You Can Count On

The experts at Foot & Ankle Surgical Associates are here to help you feel better. When hammertoe gets in your way, give us a call at 360-754-3338. In many cases, we can fit you in for a same-day or next-day appointment. Our practices also accept all forms of insurance. Call today!

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