Do your toes looked bent and even slightly deformed? Do they curl enough that you’re embarrassed to show them in public? Are they causing you to have foot pain? If you answered yes to any of those questions, you most likely have hammertoes. They are not fun to live with, but the good news is there is a treatment for hammertoes that gives you a way to live without them.
What causes hammertoes?
Hammertoes are toes that are stuck in a curled or bent position. They are most common in women who wear high heels on a regular basis or people who wear shoes with a narrow toe box. If the toe box of the shoe is too narrow, it forces the toes into an unnatural bent position. A higher heel pushes the foot down even more and squishes the toes against the shoe, increasing the pressure and bend in the toe. Heredity and arthritis are also factors that can contribute to hammertoes.
Hammertoes also become bent this way due to an imbalance in the foot that causes your toes to basically grasp the ground when you stand. This is your toe muscle’s way of bracing themselves in an attempt to correct the imbalance of weight – every time you take a step, your toes take the brunt of the weight.
Your foot is imbalanced because it’s actually misaligned and lacks stability.
What happens if hammertoes are left untreated?
If hammertoes are caught early enough, they can be prevented. However, if left untreated they start changing the way the joints react to each, which leads to arthritic changes and other foot problems.
Shoes can also aggravate the hammertoes. Your body will compensate for this by forming a callus. If left untreated, the bones will stiffen up and your body won’t be able to put enough callus on the hammertoes. Instead, it tries a different method by creating a bursa sac – a small area enclosed with fluid that provides cushioning. If allowed to sit for too long, the bursa sac will become irritated, causing pain and swelling.
Ultimately, hammertoes can lead to dangerous foot problems like circulation issues or ulcers and will need surgical intervention.
What is a viable treatment for hammertoes?
Since a hammertoe changes the way the joints react, if you ignore it and don’t get treatment, your toe will ultimately become inflexible and end up requiring hammertoe surgery.
Basic treatment options include:
- Changing your footwear to shoes that have roomy toe boxes and don’t rub on your feet
- Wearing soft insoles or functional orthotics to relieve the pressure on the toes
- Wearing pads on the toe to protect the joint that is sticking out
- Toe exercises that help stretch and strengthen the toe muscle
Your hammertoes are compensating for an imbalance in your feet caused by foot misalignment. When your feet are misaligned, the ankle bone slips off the heel bone, falling forward and out of line, causing the sinus tarsi to collapse and your feet to excessively roll inward.
Foot misalignment is the issue that leads to secondary conditions like hammertoes that often cause chronic foot pain. Once you address the root cause, these secondary problems will also improve.
You can correct the misalignment with HyProCure®, a small titanium stent that is placed in the naturally occurring space between the ankle bone and heel bone to stabilize the ankle and keep the space from collapsing. The procedure uses a minimally invasive technique that results in patients experiencing little post-operative pain, almost no time off their feet, and in most cases will be wearing their own shoes again approximately 3 to 5 days after the procedure. HyProCure® implantation (in most patients) will permanently correct the dislocation of the Talus.
Adler Footcare has been designated as a Center of Excellence for HyProCure® implantation, by the Graham International Implant Institute, because of the safety, expertise and experience offered to patients.
If you’d like more information about the best treatment for hammertoes, contact the best podiatrists in NYC at Adler Footcare to see if you’re a candidate for HyProCure®. We believe feet shouldn’t hurt and neither should their treatment.