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Best Ways To Prevent Hammertoe

Mar 02, 2023
Hammertoe can be painful, distracting, and mobility-limiting. Understanding what causes hammertoe can help you prevent it or at least mitigate its effects on your life.

Do one or more toes next to your big toe seem to buckle and curl like a claw, causing a callous or sore to form where the knuckle bows up and meets the inside of your shoe? If so, you could be suffering from hammertoe. Fortunately, there are ways to minimize hammertoe and prevent the condition.

At Metroplex Foot & Ankle LLP, with offices in Dallas, Texas, and Richardson, Texas, our team of four experienced podiatrists can help identify if you are at risk for developing hammertoe, provide guidance and tips for prevention, and help treat your condition if it has already taken hold.

Hammertoe basics

When muscles, tendons, or ligaments in the foot aren’t working harmoniously, your second toe (and occasionally, third and fourth) can develop a deformity at the second knuckle of the toe.

The knuckle will bulge upward, creating a claw out of the affected toe(s), and you experience a cramping feeling on the underside of the toe. However, the top of the toe becomes the most vulnerable, as it can rub against the inner surface of your shoe.

Constant rubbing and pressure result in a callous on the top of your toe if you’re lucky and a wound that might refuse to heal if you’re not. Diabetics and other people with poor lower limb circulation can have serious complications from hammertoe.

Hammertoe prevention

According to the American Academy of Family Physicians, the most common cause of hammer toe is simply wearing too-tight shoes, especially ones that are too short or too narrow in the toe. Because the toes don't have room to spread naturally, they buckle and get stuck in the bent position as muscles and tendons tighten and become shorter.  

Simply ensuring that all footwear worn has ample room for your toes is the best form of prevention. This goes double for women and children; traditional heels have narrow, pointy toes, which can cause cramping and lead to hammertoe. For kids, check carefully to see if their second toe is longer than the big toe, and replace footwear frequently as they grow to prevent hammertoe from developing. 

If you have long toes and must wear heels or other tight, narrow footwear (something your workplace might require), you can do exercises to help prevent hammer toe. Of these, simple toe curls and straightening every morning and evening can help ensure that your toe muscles and tendons stay flexible and stop cramping from happening. You can also take your work shoes to a cobbler and have them gently stretch the toe box to provide enough room for your toes.

For more information on hammertoe and potential treatment options for established cases, contact the office nearest you for an appointment or book online today.