Development of Hammertoes
Bunions that are really severe may result in the development of hammertoes. If the abnormal bone growth around the big toe joint is really large, then the big toe will do more than just lean towards the other toes; the alignment will be so deviated that the big toe will underlap, (or less often, overlap), the adjacent toe.
As the big toe underlaps the adjacent one, it forces a partial or complete dislocation of the joint closest to the forefoot of the second toe, which then results in the observable “buckling” of this second toe. This deformity is called “hammer toes. “The term “hammer toe” came from the fact that the appearance of the buckled toe resembles the claw portion of a hammer, as you can see from the graphic below.
It should be noted here that although bunions are a major cause of hammer toes, hammer toes can also stem from other hereditary factors such as flat feet or high arched feet. In other words, the development of hammertoes is not always tied to the presence of a bunion. Also, while the second toe is the one most often having this deformity, the other toes may be affected, as well.
Besides leading to foot pain when wearing shoes, other unpleasant side effects of a hammertoe are the development of corns and calluses on top of the toe and also under the ball of the foot that is affected.
If you have inherited a tendency to develop hammer toes, then the same advice regarding shoes applies to you as it does to people who are at risk for developing bunions: only wear comfortable shoes that give your toes plenty of room.
Treatment for Hammertoes
If hammertoes have developed, follow these steps for treatment:
1. Only wear shoes that are low-heeled and have a wide toe box.
2. Avoid any socks or stockings that are too constrictive.
3. Exercise the muscles in your toes with simple exercises such as picking up marbles with your toes.
4. Wear pads and cushions to relieve pressure when wearing shoes.
5. Control calluses with a callus removal product or a high quality foot repair cream.
6. Wear a toe straightener or splint to encourage the toe to lie straight. For an inexpensive product designed for this purpose, click here.
Here’s a great list of exercises to help strengthen and straighten your toes. These toe exercises for hammer toes, bunions, toe cramps, and other foot problems may really make a difference for you if you do them regularly.
One issue that cannot be emphasized enough is the importance of wearing the best shoes for this foot problem. Therefore, we recommend doing a search for “hammertoes” at Shoebuy.com where shipping and return shipping is free within the U.S. The selection at Shoebuy for therapeautic shoes is really outstanding.
Like bunions, if left untreated hammer toes will only get worse, not better. Take measures such as the ones above to reduce your discomfort and promote healing. If these non-invasive measures do not help, talk to your podiatrist about hammertoe surgery to correct your hammertoes.