A hammertoe happens when the muscles and ligaments around your toe joint get out of balance. This makes the middle joint of your toe buckle and get stuck in this position. You’re most likely to see hammertoe in your middle three toes. Toes that curl are also hammertoes. This happens most often with baby toes.
There are two types:
- Flexible hammertoes. If you can still move your toe at the joint, it’s a flexible hammertoe. That’s good, because it means you have a milder form of the problem. There may be several treatment options.
- Rigid hammertoes. If the tendons in your toe get rigid, they press the joint out of alignment. At this stage, you can’t move your toe. It usually means you need surgery.
The main symptom of hammertoe is a toe or toes that look bent upward in the middle. Because of these buckled toes, you may have:
- Blisters and calluses from where your toes rub against the top of your shoes
- Pain in your toe joint where it meets your foot
- Pain when you walk
- Stiffness in the bent toes that gets worse over time
Hammertoe Causes and Risk Factors
The muscles of each toe work in pairs. When the toe muscles get out of balance, a hammertoe can form. Muscle imbalance puts a lot of pressure on your toe’s tendons and joints. This pressure forces your toe into a hammerhead shape.
Common causes include:
- Shoes that don’t fit. If your shoes are too tight, too short, or too pointy, they push your toes out of balance. Pointy, high-heeled shoes put particularly severe pressure on the toes.
- High arches
Women are more likely than men to get pain from hammertoes because of the types of shoes they wear.
Hammertoes can be a serious problem in people with diabetes or poor circulation because they have a higher risk for infections and foot ulcers. Custom orthopedic shoes may prevent these complications. People with these conditions should see a podiatrist at the first sign of foot trouble.
If you have been experiencing any pain or discomfort caused by hammertoes or any other foot and ankle issues contact us today for a consultation