Hammertoes are a deformity of the second, third or fourth toes. In this condition, the toe is bent at the middle joint, so that it resembles a hammer. Initially, hammertoes are flexible and can be corrected with simple measures but, if left untreated, they can become fixed and require surgery.
HAMMERTOES COMMON SYMPTOMS/COMPLAINTS People with hammertoes may have corns or calluses on the top of the middle joint of the toe or on the tip of the toe. They may also feel pain in their toes or feet and have difficulty finding comfortable shoes.
HOW ARE HAMMERTOES CAUSED? Hammertoes results from shoes that don’t fit properly or a muscle imbalance, usually in combination with one or more other factors. Muscles work in pairs to straighten and bend the toes. If the toe is bent and held in one position long enough, the muscles tighten and cannot stretch out. Some other causes are diabetes, arthritis, neuromuscular disease, polio or trauma.
Shoes that narrow toward the toe may make your forefoot look smaller. But they also push the smaller toes into a flexed (bent) position. The toes rub against the shoe, leading to the formation of corns and calluses, which further aggravate the condition. A higher heel forces the foot down and squishes the toes against the shoe, increasing the pressure and the bend in the toe. Eventually, the toe muscles become unable to straighten the toe, even when there is no confining shoe.
HOW ARE HAMMERTOES TREATED? First push up on the bottom of the metatarsal head associated with the affected toe and see if the toe straightens out. If it does, then an orthotic could correct the problem, usually with a metatarsal pad. If the toe does not straighten out when the metatarsal head is pushed up, then that indicates that contracture in the capsule and ligaments (capsule contracts because the joint was in the wrong position for too long) of the MTP joint has set in and surgery is required. Orthotics are generally required post-surgically.
Conservative treatment starts with new shoes that have soft, roomy toe boxes. Shoes should be one-half inch longer than your longest toe. (Note: For many people, the second toe is longer than the big toe.) Avoid wearing tight, narrow, high-heeled shoes. You may also be able to find a shoe with a deep toe box that accommodates the hammer toe. Or, a shoe specialist (Pedorthist) may be able to stretch the toe box so that it bulges out around the toe. Sandals may help, as long as they do not pinch or rub other areas of the foot.
Your doctor may also prescribe some toe exercises that you can do at home to stretch and strengthen the muscles. For example, you can gently stretch the toes manually. You can use your toes to pick things up off the floor. While you watch television or read, you can put a towel flat under your feet and use your toes to crumple it.
Finally, we carry straps, cushions or non-medicated corn pads to relieve symptoms. If you have diabetes, poor circulation or a lack of feeling in your feet, talk to your doctor before attempting any self-treatment.
BEST SHOES FOR HAMMERTOES We carry a wide variety of shoes and sandals for hammertoes. Many of the supportive shoes and sandals we carry have great support and have deep toe boxes which are very helpful for hammertoes. The best shoes for hammertoes support the foot and accommodate the toes. Additionally, shoes for hammertoes usually have special linings on the upper of the toe box that reduces friction from toes rubbing on the top. Shoes for hammertoes should have a curved sole at the forefoot to help reduce the pressure on hammertoes.
BEST ARCH SUPPORTS FOR HAMMER TOES We have a wide variety of arch supports for Hammer Toes. The best arch support for Hammer Toes will have good metatarsal support, control pronation, and be adjustable to meet your individual needs. The best insoles for Hammer Toes usually are custom molded and have forefoot reliefs where hammertoes usually end up rubbing on the top of the shoe. We have over the counter arch supports and custom molded orthotics which helps reduce the pain associated with Hammer Toes. Make an appointment today with a specialist to find out which Hammer Toes arch support is best for you!