Hammer toes and mallet toes are foot deformities that occur due to an imbalance in the muscles, tendons or ligaments that normally hold the toe straight. This is a deformity that causes your toe to bend or curl downward instead of pointing forward. It can affect any toe.
Causes of Hammer Toes
Hammertoe and mallet toe have been linked to:
- An imbalance in toe muscles leading to instability, which in turn can cause the toe to contract.
- Genetics(say one of your parents has it). It may be present at birth.
- It may develop over time due to arthritis. Diabetes could also increase your risk.
- An injury in which you stub, jam or break a toe can make it more likely for that digit to develop hammertoe.
- Poorly fitting and/or high-heeled shoes or footwear that are too tight at the toes crowding your toes into a space in which they can’t lie flat.
- toe length(if your second toe is too long)
- Sex (women seem more prone but maybe that is down to fashion ie. high heels etc.?)
Complications of Hammer Toes
At first, a hammertoe or mallet toe might maintain its flexibility. Eventually, the tendons of the toe can contract and tighten, causing your toe to become permanently bent. The toe may become painful and moving it may also be difficult or painful. The raised portion of the toe or toes can rub against your shoes, causing painful corns or calluses.
Prevention of Hammer Toes
Relieving the pain and pressure of hammertoe may involve changing your footwear and/or wearing orthotics. If you have a more severe case of hammertoe or mallet toe, you might need surgery to get relief.
You can avoid many foot, heel and ankle problems with shoes that fit properly. Here’s what to look for when buying shoes:
- Make sure there is adequate toe room. Avoid shoes with pointed toes.
- Low heels. Avoiding high heels.
- Make sure shoes are supportive and comfortable. Lace them up properly
These additional tips can help you buy the right shoes:
- Buy shoes at the end of the day. Your feet swell slightly throughout the day.
- Check your size. As you age, your shoe size might change — especially the width. Measure both feet and buy for the larger foot.
- Buy shoes that fit. Be sure shoes are comfortable before you buy them. If necessary, a shoe repair store might be able to stretch shoes in tight spots, but it’s better to buy them to fit.
For more on hammer toes see this video