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Are Cramped Toes Cramping Your Style?

Are Cramped Toes Cramping Your Style?

When you wear shoes that are too narrow or short for your feet, your toes can’t move easily. Over time, the longest toe or multiple toes may arch up in the middle into a claw-like shape. This condition is known as a hammertoe. In most cases, other toes – excluding the big toe – will be affected, according to the American Podiatric Medical Association (APMA).

Other causes may include pressure from a bunion and previous trauma.

Common hammertoe pain points include the ball of the foot at the toe base and on top of the toe. Blisters, calluses and corns can form on the parts of the toe that rub against the shoe. Other symptoms include swelling at the affected joint and restricted movement.

Preventive Foot Patrol

Schedule a visit with a podiatrist for treatment of a hammertoe.

“Don’t be afraid to ask your doctor about any foot problems, from hammertoes to warts,” said Jason NeSmith, MD, primary care physician at Cairo Internal Medicine. “You might feel embarrassed, but we see feet every day. Our goal is to help you get around comfortably and easily.”

Your provider may offer injection therapy to relieve inflammation. At home, you can address hammertoe symptoms with these DIY solutions:

  • Pain – Take ibuprofen and swap your tight shoes for roomier ones.
  • Tightness – Pick up items with your toes to stretch them.
  • Muslce imbalance – Wear shoe inserts for added support.
  • Corns – If you have areas of thickened skin on the tops of toes, use padding.

In first-line treatment doesn’t remedy your hammertoe discomfort, surgery may be recommended.

Straighten Up, Toes

Depending on the severity of your condition – or the flexibility of your hammertoe – you may be a good candidate for one of the following surgical procedures:

  • Moving toe tendons up from the base of the toe to its end in order to straighten it
  • Lengthening the affected toe by cutting ligaments and tendons, a process that involves a small incision and temporary use of pins, which are removed the month following surgery
  • Fusing – or joining – the ends of cut bone using implants, screws, pins, wire or plates, also known as a fusion procedure

Your specific hammertoe surgery will be individualized to best fit your needs. Recovery includes wearing a special shoe and elevating your food during periods of rest.

Need a provider to help you with hammertoe? Find one at