Hammer Toes Explained
Hammer toes are named for the shape your toes take when the muscles are out of balance. Your toes can curl and lock into a hammer shape. Imagine curling your toes and having them stay in that position. Your mobility would be limited, and you'd experience frequent if not constant pain. Those who have this condition can suffer from a number of unpleasant symptoms.
What is a Hammer Toe?
Hammer toes are toes permanently curled into a hammer shape due to weakened toe muscles. Your toe tendons shorten, pulling your toes into an unnatural and uncomfortable position. You can have two different types of hammer toes: flexible and rigid. Flexible hammer toes still have movable joints. Rigid hammer toes are immovable and often require surgery.
Symptoms of Hammer Toe
In addition to curled toes, the symptoms of hammer toe include pain in the problem toes when you flex them, or when you wear certain shoes. The toes may swell, develop callouses, burn and turn red. Sores may appear on the afflicted toes, inviting infection. For patients with diabetes, these sores can become dangerous due to decreased circulation.
Hammer toes can sometimes swell, develop calluses, burn and turn red.
Treatment for Hammer Toe
You will have a better outcome if you seek treatment for hammer toe while the joint is still movable. At that point, stretching and exercising the toes may help prevent the condition from worsening. For instance, you may find picking up marbles with your toes helps to keep them flexible. In addition to prescribing Corn Pads and foot straps, your doctor may order a cortisone injection to treat severe toe pain. If the toes cannot be moved, you may require hammer toe surgery to put the toe and tendons back in position and to remove deformed bone.
Help for Hammer Toe
Wear shoes that have low heels and a roomy toe box if you have hammer toe — your toes should have ample room to move within your footwear. Look for shoes with built-in support or use over-the-counter insoles, like Superfeet, in all your footwear. The supportive, orthotic shape of Superfeet insoles cradles and stabilizes your feet inside your shoes, reducing the need to "grip" with your toes and minimizing some of the pain caused by this condition.
You can also try Toe Crest Cushions.