Healthy feet are vitally important to a person's general health and day-to-day existence. They are the literal base of the entire body, and taking care of the feet is very important. Oftentimes, fashion takes precedent over what is healthy in terms of footwear, causing damage to the feet that may be painful and, sometimes, must be corrected by surgery. The condition of hammer toe is one of these problems that can arise.
Hammer toe is literally the curving of the small toes on the foot. It can affect all the toes, but usually affects the second through fourth toe on the feet. The toes are bent into a hammer shape that may resemble a claw. The condition is quite painful and can cause large amounts of discomfort.
There are several causes for the condition of hammer toe. One of the main causes is wearing shoes that are tight and that are "pointy-toed." This causes the toes to jam together and sit on top of each other in an unnatural way. Toes sitting in these positions for too long will eventually become unable to bend the way they are designed to --- thus hammer toe occurs. The style of shoe is not the only culprit for hammer toe --- shoes that are too tight or too small can also cause it. Wearing high heels can also be a factor. Some people have hammer toe because it is an inherited trait. In some cases, babies can be born with hammer toe.
The symptoms of hammer toe are very noticeable. A person may notice the formation of corns or calluses on the feet, which are indicators that the footwear they are wearing is not comfortable. They will also notice that the toes are not bending the way that they should, and, eventually, the toes will not bend at all, even when confining footwear is not being worn.
Usually the treatment for hammer toe is easy. Most doctors will recommend not wearing the offending footwear anymore. Trimming corns and calluses will also be recommended. Corrective orthopedic devices will often be inserted into shoes, along with certain exercises that a person can do to straighten out the tendons in the toes. Very rarely, surgery is needed to correct the condition.
The prevention of hammer toe is fairly simple. Wearing shoes that fit properly are a must. Avoiding high heels can also prevent the condition, as well as making good choices on footwear and putting feet, not fashion, first.