Everything You Need to Know about Hammertoes
Published: September 14, 2019
Last modified: April 14, 2021
A hammertoe is a toe that is bent in the middle joint so that it folds or curls over. In some cases, the toes crowd over each other instead of sitting flat and pointing straight ahead. The musculoskeletal condition makes everyday activities like standing and walking uncomfortable or downright painful. And finding a pair of shoes that can accommodate the bent and awkwardly crowded joints can be a challenge.
Find out what you should do if you suspect that you have hammertoes:
You should get checked at our Toronto foot clinic if you are exhibiting any of the above symptoms and suspect you have hammertoes. The specialist will examine your feet and determine the appropriate diagnosis. They will also check for problems that form in tandem with hammertoe like calluses, corns and blisters. Establishing the foot condition is the first step to treating it.
The good news is that flexible hammertoes can be reversed when you practice toe strengthening exercises and use specialized accessories. Hammertoes are a progressive foot condition — the longer you ignore them, the worse they’re going to get. However, the earlier that you notice the symptoms and commit to a personalized treatment plan, the faster you can rectify the problem.
Hammertoe happens when the muscles in your feet tighten and the tendons contract, pulling the toes into a curled and clustered position. Eventually, your muscles can’t force the toes to lie flat. A non-invasive way to counteract the painful toe position is to strengthen the muscles in the toes and feet, so they can eventually lie in their natural position without discomfort.
A toe crunch is one of the best hammertoe strengthening exercises that you can try out at home. To do the exercise, sit down in a chair with your shoes and socks off. Put a towel on the ground right under your feet. Root your heels into the floor and then try to scrunch up the towel, drawing it closer to you using only your toes. Do multiple reps every day. You will notice a difference in how your toes feel and how they lie over time.
Until the strengthening exercises take effect, you should consider hammertoe straighteners and separators to prevent your toes from curling or crossing over each other. These corrective accessories make it more comfortable to stand and walk.
When you’re doing a more intensive form of exercise, you may want to tape your hammertoes to keep them separate and straight underneath your sneakers. A gel straightener will be uncomfortable and will likely move during a jog or fitness class. Use sports tape or first-aid tape to do the job.
You need to stop wearing shoes that can make hammertoes worse. Otherwise, your strengthening exercises and accessories won’t offer any long-term results. You need to avoid wearing high heels and shoes with tight or pointed toe boxes so that your toes can stay properly aligned.
You can visit Feet First Clinic to find some comfortable orthopaedic shoes for sport, work wear and nights out. Specialists at the clinic can also help you get custom orthotic insoles to accommodate the curled toes and ease any discomfort while you move around. You can have them made for whatever kind of footwear you want, including skates, cleats and ski boots.
Certain medical conditions like diabetes and rheumatoid arthritis will make it more difficult to alleviate the symptoms of hammertoes. If you are aware that you have these conditions, please notify the chiropodist during your visits. They offer other specialized services and products that can help you manage these ailments.
Book an appointment
You do not need a referral to become a patient at our foot clinic. Schedule an appointment by using the Appointment Request form below or contact the clinic at 416-769-FEET(3338).