Hammertoes are a contracture of the toes as a result of a muscle imbalance between the tendons on the top and the tendons on the bottom of the toe. They can be flexible or rigid in nature. When they are rigid, it is not possible to straighten the toe out by manipulating it. Frequently, they develop corns on the top of the toe as a result of rubbing on the shoe. They may also cause a bothersome callus on the ball of the foot. This occurs as a result of the toe pressing downward on the bone behind the toe. This area then becomes prominent and the pressure of the bone against the ground causes a callus to form. (Corns and Calluses)
Preventative treatment of hammertoe is directed toward the cause of the deformity. A functional orthotic is a special insert that can be prescribed by your podiatrist to address the abnormal functioning of the foot that causes the hammertoe. Functional orthotics can be thought of as contact lenses for your feet. They correct a number of foot problems that are caused by an abnormally functioning foot. Our feet, much like our eyes, change with time. Functional orthotics slow down or halt this gradual change in the foot. Often when orthotics are used for flexible hammertoes, the toes will overtime straighten out and correct themselves. Calf stretching exercises are also helpful. Calf stretching can help to overcome part of the muscle imbalance that causes the hammertoe.
Symptomatic treatment of hammertoes consists of such things as open toed shoes or hammertoe pads. There are over the counter corn removers for temporally reducing the painful callus often seen with the hammertoe. These medications must be used with caution. They contain a mild acid that burns the callus off. These medications should never be used for corns or calluses between the toes. Persons with diabetes or bad circulation should never use these products.
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