Have a Hammertoe? Here’s What You Can Do About It!
When most people think about foot irregularities, they most often think about bunions, but hammertoes are just as common. This type of deformity is inconspicuous and emerges gradually, so you may not even notice it until it’s too late. Today, Dr. William Buffone of North Fork Podiatry/Three Village Podiatry is sharing what you need to know when dealing with a hammertoe.
What is a Hammertoe?
This deformity affects the middle joint of a toe (typically the smaller ones), causing the toe to bend down. In more severe cases, a hammertoe will resemble a claw.
There are two kinds of hammertoes – rigid and flexible. If you aren’t able to straighten the affected toe, you have a rigid hammertoe. With a flexible hammertoe, you are still able to straighten out the toe. A flexible hammertoe isn’t considered to be as serious, but it’s important to take care of it to make sure that it doesn’t get worse.
While there is no method of curing a hammertoe, there are some simple measures you can try to stop it from progressing. First, you need to examine the shoes you are wearing to make sure that they aren’t too snug. When you slide your feet into your shoes, do your toes bunch up? If so, this could be aggravating your hammertoe.
Instead, choose shoes that have an ample toe box to allow your toes to move freely. If there is a structural imbalance in the foot, you could be disposed to foot problems such as hammertoes and bunions.
When pain or stiffness occurs, you can take an over-the-counter pain reliever (ibuprofen), which can decrease both the pain and inflammation simultaneously. You can also place an ice pack wrapped in a towel over the area for several minutes.
In addition, you can apply a non-medicated protective pad similar to those used to cover a bunion or callus. Since the misshapen toe joint protrudes outward, this can leave the toe at risk for calluses, which can be painful when wearing shoes. To stop the formation of the callus, use a protective pad over the affected toe joint before putting on your footwear.
If you are dealing with significant or frequent pain, or if the hammertoe appears to be rigid – don’t wait – make an appointment with your podiatrist today. In more severe cases, surgery may be needed to correct the misshapen joint.