Hammertoes: The Silence Consequence of High Heels

HammertoesWhile most women will go out on the town or even to work in high heels, most of them don’t think about the consequences that these shoes can have on their feet. Unfortunately, by the time they realize it, it’s already caused irreversible damage. Find out more about hammertoes, how your high heels could be responsible and when to see your Tampa podiatrist, Dr. Brandi Johnson.

What are hammertoes?

A hammertoe is a condition that causes one or both of the joints in any of the four little toes to bend. This bending of the toe (or toes) can become so severe that it causes the toe to look almost claw-like and rigid. This condition usually starts out as only a minor structural issue, but can worsen over time.

How is wearing high heels a risk factor for developing hammertoes?

While women can often be found wearing high heels to work or evening outings, these shoes can have damaging effects on your feet. If you continue to cram your feet into narrow or tight high heels for long periods of time, the toes will be forced to bend.

If you don’t seek treatment and continue to wear high heels and tight shoes, the bent toe can become so stiff that it won’t straighten out. While just about any ill-fitting shoes can cause this problem, high heels tend to be the biggest culprit, since slightly elevated ankles tend to push more weight towards the toes.

What else can cause hammertoes?

A hammertoe can be caused by a muscular imbalance. This imbalance can gradually change the structure of your foot and cause a hammertoe to form over time. Past toe trauma can also be responsible for the development of a hammertoe.

What are the symptoms of hammertoes?

Besides having a toe that bends downwards, there may also be inflammation or redness of the toe. You may notice pain when wearing shoes. Sometimes a corn or callus will develop on or around the hammertoe.

What treatment options are available in Tampa to treat hammertoes?

Since this condition is progressive it’s important to see your Tampa podiatrist at the first signs of a hammertoe. There are a variety of conservative ways to treat your condition:

Medications: Over-the-counter NSAIDs can help control pain and inflammation.

Orthotics: Your Tampa foot doctor can make customized orthotics to place into your shoes to help take pressure off the toes and correct any muscular imbalance.

Proper footwear: Opt for shoes that give toes room to wiggle and move. Never wear shoes that have more than a 2-inch heel.

Steroid injections: Those with more severe pain and inflammation that don’t respond to OTC medications may find relief through corticosteroid injections.

Splinting: If caught early enough, your Tampa podiatrist may recommend wearing a splint to help realign the toe.

While surgery is rarely necessary for hammertoes, if the toe has become rigid and has started causing chronic pain then surgery will probably be the best option. Talk to your Tampa foot doctor at Advanced Foot & Ankle Specialists about what treatment options are right for your hammertoe.