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Health

What You Need To Know About That Awkward Bend on Your Toe

2 Mins read

Does your toe feel painful with a characteristic awkward bend or curve? If you are, the chances are high you may be having a hammertoe Paramus. Hammertoes develop when the muscles, tendons and other tissues in your toes shorten or harden. However, your podiatrist will classify the deformity depending on the contracture’s location. Hammertoe can be flexible, semi-rigid or rigid and will significantly affect your mobility if you hesitate to get professional help. Do not let the toe deformity minimize your movement when you can contact your podiatrist for professional assistance.

How are hammertoes different from mallet toes and claw toes?

Four of your toes have three joints, the metatarsophalangeal joint (at the base of the toe), proximal interphalangeal joint (the middle joint) and distal phalangeal joint (the joint closest to the toenail). However, your big toe has only the first and second joints. Though the three awkward bends are different, most people confuse hammertoes with claw toes and mallet toes. To help note the difference:

  • Hammertoes mostly appears on your three middle toes
  • The bend in claw toes happens in the first toe and the second joints of the other toes
  • Mallet toes usually appear on the third joint

Hammertoes happen in three ways. They can be flexible, semi-rigid and rigid hammertoes. For instance, flexible hammertoes are in the development process. As such, you will be able to move the affected toe at the joint. As the toe stiffens, the awkward bend develops into a semi-rigid hammertoe. Over time, the affected toe’s tendons and soft tissues tighten, making it impossible for the joint to move (rigid hammertoe).

What causes the toe deformity?

You are likely to have a hammertoe when your toe’s muscles and ligaments slide out of their normal position, forcing the middle joint to buckle and change position. The muscle imbalance can be intrinsic or generic. For instance, high-arched or flat feet might cause instability, especially when walking. Toe injury or wearing inappropriate shoes for long may also trigger the imbalance. Your doctor might advise you to avoid wearing inappropriate foot-wears like high heels and flip-flops that do not support your heels appropriately.  

Hammertoes can interfere significantly with your everyday activities. The contracture may prompt your toe to rub on the top of your shoe, resulting in the formation of painful callus tissue. Unfortunately, the callus may increase the pressure in your shoe, thus enhancing the pain, which can affect your activities. A hammertoe might not need surgical treatment to relieve the pain and pressure. Your physician might suggest using a Budin splint or crest pad around a flexible hammertoe to shift it in place. The doctor might also recommend an in-office flexor tenotomy to address a semi-rigid hammertoe to fix the muscle imbalance. For a rigid hammertoe, the podiatrist might recommend wearing a foot-gear with a full and deep toe box to help ease the pressure on your crooked toe.

A hammertoe’s primary cause is an unsupported motion. Therefore, the only way to prevent the deformity from happening or minimize the symptoms from advancing is to avoid wearing non-supportive shoes like heels. Your doctor might also suggest using supportive shoe inserts to control foot motions. Contact your doctor to learn more about hammertoes.