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Hammer Toe

Hammer toe is a condition that results from the ligaments, tendons, or muscles responsible for keeping your toe straight developing an imbalance. Manifesting as a bend in the middle joint of your toe, often your second to fourth toes, it can cause a significant amount of pain and discomfort. Those who experience this condition can find it difficult to find shoes that fit properly, and can have difficulty walking normally. Regardless of the origin of this condition there are multiple types of treatment available, providing hope for a future free from the pain and discomfort that comes with this condition.

What Is Hammer Toe, And How Is It Related To Mallet Toe?

Hammer toe and mallet toe are terms for two conditions that result from the same root cause, an imbalance in the tissues responsible for positioning your toes. Hammer toe affects the middle joint of your toe, while mallet toe affects the joint that is nearest to your toenail. Overall the symptoms and treatments for these two conditions are similar. These imbalances result in your toe forming an arch that results in the tip of your to toe being pointed downward. The result is a painful experience that results in a range of difficulties with finding proper shoes, moving, and can even lead to corns and calluses.

Who Is Likely To Develop Hammer Toe or Mallet Toe?

These conditions have been found linked to several factors ranging from sex and age to the presence of certain medical concerns. Wearing shoes that are the wrong size or designed in a way they reduce the amount of available space for the toes is one leading cause that is avoidable. Others known factors include:

  •  Trauma – These conditions can form as the result of damage or injury to the toe, including breaks, jams, or stubbing of the toe. Instances like this can increase the likelihood that you may develop them. 
  • Sex – People who were born female-bodied are more likely to develop these conditions than those born male-bodied. 
  • Length of Toe – If you were born with a second toe that is of greater length than your big toe, you’re more likely to develop a hammer or mallet toe. 
  • Diseases – Diabetes and arthritis have both been linked to a greater risk of hammer toe or mallet toe.

How Is Hammer Toe Treated?

In cases where your condition has not resulted in your toe becoming inflexible, a change in shoe may help alleviate the pain or discomfort of the position by repositioning your toe. Orthotic pads and inserts may also help, and are available in OTC (over-the-counter) and prescription varieties. Physical therapy can also help in some cases, such as crumpling a towel with your toes or lifting marbles. In the event that conservative approaches prove unsuccessful, surgical options are available.

If you’re suffering from symptoms related to hammer toe or mallet toe and want to learn what Appalachian Foot & Ankle Associates can do to help you, call us for an appointment today. You can reach us by dialing 1-828-277-8042, or by stopping in at our offices in Asheville or Marion North Carolina. Our team of podiatry experts are ready to help you find relief from hammer toe and mallet toe symptoms today!

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