A hammertoe occurs when the middle joint of a toe is stuck in a bent position, leading to rubbing and irritation of the top of the bent toe.

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Initially, a hammertoe may remain flexible and lie flat when not in crowded footwear, but eventually the tendons of the toe can tighten, causing the toe to become stiff permanently. Once this occurs, rubbing of a shoe against the raised part of the toe leads to painful corns or calluses.

What Causes Hammertoes?

Hammertoe is caused by a muscle and ligament imbalance around the toe joint. Unnatural curling of a toe, usually the baby toe, is also considered hammertoe.

Toe muscles work in pairs. When they get out of balance, the imbalance creates excessive pressure on the tendons and joints of the toe. This pressure forces the toe to remain unnaturally bent.
Toe muscle imbalance is usually caused by shoes that do not fit well. Shoes that are too tight, too short, or too pointy push the toe muscles out of balance. Pointy, high-heeled shoes in particular put severely excessive pressure on the toes. Toe muscle imbalance can also be caused by arthritis, injury to the toe, or by an inherited structural defect like flat feet or high arches.

Treatments for Hammertoe

If caught early and the toe is still flexible, changing to roomier and more comfortable footwear might be the best solution. Shoe inserts (orthotics) or pads may also help relieve pressure and reposition the toe.

Exercises like picking up small objects or a thin towel off the floor with your toes can also help to strengthen and stretch the toe muscles.

If the hammertoe is severe, surgery might be necessary to release the tendon or remove pieces of the bone that prevent the toe from straightening.

Doctor Alavy is a Double Board Certified Podiatrist in the Greater Los Angeles area. He is committed to patient care and wellness which gives you the security of partnering up with a specialist who will guide you through a journey to overall foot and ankle health from your consultation till after your treatment.

Schedule Your Appointment: ‭(626) 338-1800‬

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741 S Orange Ave Ste 100.
West Covina, CA 91790

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