What Are Hammertoes?
By Idaho Foot & Ankle Associates
November 30, 2020
Category: Foot Conditions
Tags: hammertoes  

Dealing with a hammertoe? Here’s what to do about it.

It’s easy for our Boise, ID, podiatrists to be able to spot hammertoes through a simple examination. After all, the classic characteristic is a toe that is bent downward. In more serious cases the toe may look almost claw-like and be unable to straighten. If you think you may have a hammertoe, here’s what you should know,

Hammertoes are progressive

A hammertoe will not go away (unless it’s surgically repaired). In fact, this deformity (just like bunions) can get worse over time. This is why it’s important to 1. Catch a hammertoe early on when you’re still able to straighten the joint and 2. Start incorporating conservative measures and treatment options early to slow its progress.

Hammertoes typically affects the small toes

Just as a bunion typically affects the large toe joint, a hammertoe is another common foot deformity that often affects the joint of the small toes. Hammertoes often result from a muscle imbalance within the feet. By turning to your podiatrist for regular checkups, we can provide ways to prevent hammertoes from occurring such as creating prescription orthotics to correct the imbalance.

Hammertoes can be relieved through simple measures

It’s important that you are doing what you can to prevent the hammertoe from getting worse, but it is comforting to know that most discomfort can be alleviated through simple home care and lifestyle modifications. Some ways to treat a hammertoe include,

  • Strapping or tapping the toe to realign the joint
  • Performing stretching and strengthening exercises to improve the muscles of the foot
  • Wearing the proper footwear with wide toe boxes and material that is breathable and gives (e.g. leather)
  • Icing and pain relievers to tackle pain and swelling
  • Applying a non-medicated protective padding to the toe to prevent a callus from developing

Know the signs of a hammertoe

In the very early stages, it may be difficult to tell whether you are dealing with a hammertoe. You may only notice a small amount of redness, inflammation, swelling, pain or discomfort that may get worse when wearing shoes. As the joint deformity gets worse the toe will start to bend downward. You may also notice a corn or callus develop on or between the toes.

If you are concerned about hammertoes, our Boise, Nampa and Meridian, ID, podiatrists can help. Call Idaho Foot & Ankle Associates at (208) 327-0627, (208) 463-1660 or (208) 888-9876 to schedule an evaluation.