A hammer toe (also sometimes written as hammertoe) is a deformity of a lower (middle??) toe joint, which causes that toe to bend permanently. This condition takes its name from the hammer shape that the toe forms. Most hammer toe conditions are caused by wearing shoes that do not fit your foot's shape for long stretches of time. Over time, your muscles in your toe shorten and your toe becomes stuck in that position. Hammer toe can also be caused by conditions that damage your muscles, nerves and joints, including rheumatoid arthritis or diabetes.
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Recognise the symptoms. Hammer toe symptoms can be varied. Some people just experience discomfort and mild pain, while others have problems standing for a long time or even walking properly. If your hammer toes are making it difficult to get around or hurt nonstop, you should discuss this with your health care provider.
Talk to your health care provider. Although hammer toes can be treated through non-prescription and non-surgical methods, you should still see your health care provider for diagnosis. Diagnosis of a hammer toe is obvious by looking at it, but it can be caused by serious diseases, such as diabetes and rheumatoid arthritis. Hammer toes can even be a side effect of a stroke. Your health care provider can make sure that your hammer toes are not a symptom of a much larger problem.
Evaluate your footwear. What kinds of shoes have you been wearing? Are they tight or ill-fitting? This may be a cause of your hammer toes. Switch to shoes that have more room and are more comfortable to walk in. The clerk at your local shoe store can measure your feet to make sure you are wearing the right size.
Ask your health care provider about surgical options. In many cases, changing the types of shoes you wear is enough to provide relief from hammer toe symptoms. However, if your hammer toe has become tight or inflexible, you may require some sort of surgical repair. Your health care provider will help you make this decision and discuss your options with you. Always follow your health care provider's medical advice.
Tips and warnings
- Proper footwear will have about a half inch space between the shoe and your longest toe.
- Your feet continue to grow throughout your adult life. Have your shoe size measured every few years to prevent foot discomfort.
- Regular checkups can diagnose conditions like diabetes before they cause symptoms like hammer toes.
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