Hooray! It’s finally sandal weather. Put away those warm boots and thick socks and let your feet be free! Of course, if you’d rather keep your toes in hiding because you’re self-conscious about how they curl downward, it’s time for some straight talk about hammertoes!
Toes with middle joints that jut upward and tips that point down are referred to as hammertoes since they resemble the head of a hammer. This deformity is typically the result of a muscle/tendon imbalance due to an injury or underlying condition, and is often aggravated by shoes that are too tight. Without enough room in your footwear for toes to lay flat, they get squished into a curled position and can eventually stay that way if the situation is not addressed. Most often it is the second toe that is afflicted, but it can happen to the third and fourth toes as well.
To make matters worse, pressure from shoes can cause painful corns and calluses to form at friction points on the joints and tips of the toes. Wearing shoes can become difficult, and staying active problematic. However, there are things you can do to stop the progression and ease symptoms, but you must act fast – the longer hammertoes go without treatment, the more likely they are to become rigid, and at that point, surgery is the only solution to return your toe to its’ natural position.
So, if hammertoes are hampering you, here’s what you should do:
- Perform stretches to keep the toe flexible and build strength
- Use padding to add a layer of protection between corns and calluses and your shoes
- Make sure shoes fit well and offer plenty of wiggle room in the toe box
- Try custom orthotics for help keep your feet in proper position, correct structural issues that could be adding to the problem, and redirect pressure away from your hammer toe.
- Apply ice and take medication to help with any pain and swelling
If these conservative measures are not enough to get your toe to lay flat like it’s supposed to, call us to schedule a consultation so we can discuss your options and decide if surgery is right for you. Let us help you wear your sandals with confidence! Call (908) 687-5757 to reach our Roselle Park office, or dial (609) 924-8333 for our Princeton location.