What is Hammertoe?
Hammertoe, or contracted toe, is the abnormal bending and deformity of the second, third, or fourth toes, resulting in a permanent bending of the afflicted toe so that it resembles the head of a hammer. Hammertoe is seen most commonly in women who spend a large amount of time in shoes, typically heels, that have a small toe box.
Claw Toe and Mallet Toe are related conditions that affect different joints in the same toes.
What Causes Hammertoe?
Wearing excessively narrow shoes, high heels, or low-quality shoes for extended periods of time causes the toes to be bent within the toe box of the shoes. Over time, the muscles in these toes shorten, eventually resulting in hammertoe. Several other issues, such as bunions, may also be caused by ill-fitting footwear, and thusly are found often in conjunction with hammertoe. Nerve, muscle, and joint damage; arthritis, stroke, and diabetes can also cause hammertoe-like symptoms.
Treatment of Hammertoe
Typically, light physical therapy and a change in footwear is all that is necessary to fix hammertoe. Occasionally, your podiatrist will prescribe stretching exercises or a brace to encourage healing, and more serious cases may need to be resolved with bone surgery. If you are a Michigan resident and suspect you suffer from Hammertoe, contact Dr. Young for treatment recommendations and advice.