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4 Uncomfortable Symptoms of Hammertoe

Normal, healthy toes lie straight when you stand on your feet. Toes help you keep your balance and aid in pushing off whenever you take a step.

Hammertoes are an involuntary contracture in the toe joint that creates a deformity in the way the toe sits and functions. If you have hammertoes, your toes don’t lie flat. One or more of them curves downward, which makes a little hump in the first toe joint and results in the top of your toe, rather than its underside, hitting the ground.

At Advanced Foot & Ankle Center, our board-certified podiatrists diagnose and treat hammertoe at our locations throughout Utah. Hammertoes tend to worsen over time, and may cause bothersome symptoms and complications.

Is your hammertoe troubling you? Following are four signs that your hammertoe is more than an aesthetic concern.

1. You can’t fit into your shoes

As your deformity progresses, it may be difficult to wear your favorite shoes. If you go shopping for new shoes, you may not be able to find a pair that fits comfortably.

Whether you have hammertoes or not, it’s always best to select flat shoes that have a roomy toe box. With hammertoes, even the best-fitted footwear, however, could irritate your toe and cause complications.

To give yourself the best chance at a shoe that fits, try shopping at the end of the day, when your feet are a little more swollen and flatter than they are in the morning. Always wear the socks or stockings you plan to wear with the shoe when you’re shopping.

Look for shoes with arch support, a roomy toe box, and some room at the end of the toe box, too. You may need customized orthotics to keep your hammertoe straight and to support the rest of your foot in healthy alignment.

2. Your toes are red or swollen

When your toes can’t fit into shoes without squeezing, the material of the shoe can rub against your skin, causing irritation. Your hammertoe, already difficult to fit into a shoe, now swells and becomes even harder to fit.

The redness and irritation are worsened as your toe swells more and more. You may need to soak your feet in cold water, apply ice packs, and take pain medication or nonsteroidal antiinflammatory drugs to subdue the swelling.

3. You have corns, calluses, or blisters

The combination of deformity, swelling, and tight-fitting shoes can lead to even more complications. As your hammertoe rubs against your shoe, you may develop painful corns, calluses, or blisters on your toe.

You may be able to control the pain of corns and blisters with corn pads, band-aids, or inserts. Keep calluses at bay by cleaning and drying your feet thoroughly, then moisturizing.

4. You have trouble walking or standing

As you might guess, as your hammertoe worsens and causes complications, you could start to have trouble walking or even standing. These complications may come on so slowly that you don’t even notice them at first.

But if you’ve cut down on your daily walks or sit more than is considered healthy, your hammertoes may be one of the reasons. As your hammertoe progresses, it throws off the alignment and function of your foot. Your other toes, your ankle, even your knees and hips can be affected by the change in gait.

You can treat hammertoe

Whether your hammertoe troubles you because of the way it looks or because of the way it feels, help is available. Our podiatrists may first recommend conservative treatments, such as:

However, if your hammertoe has progressed or is debilitating, we may recommend surgery. In such cases, we release the tendon that’s responsible for the contracture. Sometimes, too, we may need to modify or remove some bone.

Are your hammertoes bothersome and uncomfortable? Get the solution you need by calling our team at the location nearest you, or simply book online today. 

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