If you drop something on the floor and your hands are full, you might try picking it up with your toes. Although we don’t typically rely on our toes for the same dexterity of our fingers, they’ll do in a pinch. But if your toe or toes seem to be in a perpetual grasping position — flexed and curled — you have a condition called hammertoe.
Dr. Dan Preece and Dr. Darren Groberg help patients straighten out their hammertoes and stop the progression and pain. Our practice, a Salt Lake City branch of Utah Musculoskeletal Specialists, specializes in expert foot and ankle care.
Our team is dedicated to personal, patient-centric service. You can expect attentive, thorough appointments with our board-certified physicians who listen well and treat you with dignity and respect.
If you have a hammertoe — whether it’s caused by arthritis, an injury, heredity, bunions, diabetes, or tight shoes — and you’re searching for relief, here’s how we can help.
What you strap onto your feet can affect whether you develop a hammertoe and how your hammertoe treatment progresses. Here are some shoe-shopping tips from our experts.
Wearing shoes that are too tight, too narrow, or too pointy can lead to the development of hammertoe. But whether or not cramped shoes are the culprit in your case, switching away from them is certainly the starting point when it comes to treating your hammertoe. Choose shoes with a toe box that allows you some wiggle room.
The same goes for high-heeled shoes. The higher the heel, the more pressure you put on your toe joints, which can cause or exacerbate hammertoe. If you must wear high heels, keep them at or below 2 inches.
It’s also a good idea to avoid overly stiff shoes. Choose shoes made of flexible materials so your toes can move and flex.
If you have diabetes, hammertoe is of particular concern. Nerve damage, a common complication of diabetes, weakens the muscles and stiffens the ligaments, which can lead to permanent contraction of your toe joint — hammertoe.
Shoes designed with diabetic people in mind are perfect for you if you have hammertoe. They are made of breathable, flexible materials that provide roomy toe boxes and exceptional arch support.
Always get your feet professionally measured before buying any shoes, even if you think you know your size, as feet change size and shape over the years.
If your feet aren’t biomechanically sound, you’re apt to develop hammertoe. For instance, if you have flat feet, your toes have to take on the job of stabilizing your weight all by themselves, which puts too much pressure on the joints and leads to hammertoe.
On the other hand, a severely high arch creates an imbalance in weight distribution between your tendons and joints, and can also lead to hammertoe.
The way to prevent hammertoe in these situations is to correct your biomechanics with orthotics. These are custom-designed inserts for your shoes that restore balance and weight distribution.
If you have a very mild case of hammertoe, you may get some relief with store-bought inserts, but prescription orthotics created for your unique foot shape and degree of toe deformity is your best bet.
Because hammertoe causes pain from the excess pressure on your joints, adding some cushiony comfort can help immensely. You can start by wearing two pairs of socks to see if that does the trick. But if you need some extra shock absorption, we can outfit you with some custom padding in just the right places.
We also tape your toes to realign them and prevent the condition from worsening.
Although we always start with the most conservative treatment methods possible, sometimes hammertoe has a mind of its own, and it progresses to a point where surgery becomes necessary.
If your hammertoe is at this stage, you can trust Drs. Preece and Groberg to skillfully and compassionately treat your toes and restore your ability to walk and function without pain.
Don’t let hammertoe stop you from enjoying life to its fullest. Call us to schedule a consultation or book it online today.