Why Is Your Toe Curling Up? A Closer Look at Hammertoe

Have you noticed that one of your toes is starting to stay in the curled up position even when your foot is placed flat on the ground? You can physically straighten the toe with your fingers, but not by using the muscles in your toe and foot alone. This is a condition known as hammertoe. It's not an overly worrisome condition—it won't make you unable to walk or cause you to lose your foot—but it can cause some pain and discomfort, especially when you're wearing shoes. Here's a look at how you can manage and treat your condition.

Managing Hammertoe at Home

In most cases, you should be able to keep your hammertoe from getting worse and from causing you serious pain by taking a few home care steps. First, make sure you're wearing shoes with plenty of room in the toe box. You don't want shoes that push on the ends of your toes. (This is likely what caused you to develop hammertoe in the first place). In general, you should stay away from heels. If you need to wear heels at work, see if you can keep an alternative pair of shoes under your desk to wear in the office and then only put the heels on when absolutely necessary for meetings and more formal work-related endeavors.

You can also visit your local pharmacy and look for a splint made for hammertoe. This should keep your toe straighter throughout the day, which can help keep the condition from getting any worse as well as preventing your hammertoe from rubbing on your shoe.

If you do experience soreness in your toe, try soaking your foot in an Epsom salt bath. The Epsom salts will draw inflammation out of your toe, alleviating a lot of the soreness. They will also help prevent infection in any skin rubs or blisters that have formed as a result of your hammertoe.

Seeking Professional Treatment

If you find that your hammertoe is consistently painful, or if it progresses to the point that it is difficult or impossible to straighten your toe even when using your hands, then it's time to seek professional treatment by a podiatrist.

Your podiatrist may recommend a custom-made splint to keep you more comfortable, or they might recommend surgery to repair the hammertoe permanently. This surgery is pretty straightforward and is done on an outpatient basis. The tendons and ligaments that are shortening (causing your toe to curl), will be stretched and repaired. You'll need wear a protective boot or splint for a few weeks, but once you're healed, you should not have further issues with hammertoe.

If you think you may have hammertoe, don't just ignore it. Start treating the condition at home today and don't hesitate to seek professional treatment if needed. Contact an establishment like Foot & Ankle Care Center PA to get started.