Hammer Toe Symptoms And Causes

The Hammer toe condition can be avoided if one knows what the hammer toe symptoms and causes are. As with almost all medical conditions, prevention is better than cure.  This could not be more true for hammer toe which can be a painful medical condition indeed, you should be aware of how to protect yourself from being affected by hammer toe to avoid the condition altogether. Below we will take a quick look at some of the symptoms to look out for that may ring warning bells if you begin to notice them.

Signs And Symptoms Of Hammer Toe

Hammer toe is a condition in which a toe(s) becomes bent and crooked and starts looking like claws. They look as if the person is deliberately keeping his toe folded.  Essentially the tip of the toe is pointing down whilst the first joint is cocked up in a somewhat awkward position.  It may affect one or many toes of a foot and it can be very painful. It is in fact the most common ailment of the little toe.  For this reason, knowing these hammer toe symptoms can be a really big advantage in early detection and avoidance.

  • Most of the time, this condition affects the second toe, which is the closest to the big toe. The toe will appear bent up and looks awkward. It can also affect other toes as well.  If you wear pointed shoes, play a lot of sport such as running or wear heals, this is the toe you particularly want to keep an eye on.
  • The toes may have calluses or corns on them which can also be quite painful. The corns may appear on all toes as well as the affected toe.
  • The toe nail of the affected toe may tap or scrape on the ground when walking creating irritation and lack of comfort.
  • Inflammation and burning may be accompanied by redness of the skin
  • You may be uncomfortable when wearing shoes and may feel pain while walking. General walking can also become painful because the bent up toe resists being straightened. Also, when a person walks, the toes become straightened and in the case of the person who is affected with hammer toe, he may feel pain when walking.
  • Blisters and open sores may also become a problem

In this photo the second toe is affected

Causes Of Hammer Toe

The following are the usual causes of hammer toe:

  • The most common cause here is that the person wears shoes or footwear that is too tight. The tight space in which the toes have to fit forces the toes to fold up. The prolonged usage of tight footwear affects the bones and tendons and makes them shortened. The shoes can be either short in size or too tight at the toe end. So even if the person removes his shoes, the toes remain in locked in the same position.  Any footwear that forces the toes really close together or does not give enough space in the toe box can give birth to the hammer toe condition.
  • High heeled footwear is another cause of hammer toe. The high heels make the body put its weight onto the toes in an unnatural way.  This creates extra stress on the toes and it forces the toes to bend up.  You can try and simulate this by lifting yourself up on your toes and observing the difference.  Peep toes can also prove to be a disadvantage for some because they can also contribute to the hammer toe condition.
  • Some people may be affected with hammer toe from birth or may develop the same as they grow up, but this is related to genetic problems rather than anything the individual has done wrong.
  • Arthritis and sometimes problems with the spinal cord and nervous systems also can be a cause of hammer toe.

Hammer toe treatment is indeed possible if you can identify the hammer toe symptoms and causes.  If you are lucky to detect the problem early on then the treatment will be simple and could be done with some exercises and the use of a splint or orthotic device.  On the other hand, if the condition has progressed then you may have to consider surgery. The ligaments will be relaxed using surgical methods allowing the toe to straighten out.  This is usually followed up with the use of an Orthotic device.

Injection of Corticosteroids is also sometimes used to treat inflammation and pain caused by hammertoes.  Another option is to take oral pain relief, usually in the form of ibuprofen.

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