What is a hammertoe?  Its basically when your toe contracts so much that it assumes a curled or flexed position.  This can happen in the form of a flexible hammertoe or a rigid hammertoe. A flexible hammertoe can straighten out of you try to manually place it in a normal position.  A rigid hammertoe is one that is fixed or bony. Why does this happen? The answer isn’t this simple, but here is a quick explanation.  Our society is one that wears socks and shoes.  By doing so, we inhibit the use of our toes more so then if we were to function barefoot. When we put on a tight fitting sock and jam our feet into a pair of snug fitting shoes, all we are doing is making the foot (and toes) less functional.  The tendons that cross our ankle joint and course through the arch try to work harder to stabilize the foot and end up flexing or curling the toes.  Over time this leads to a contracted toe which can then eventually become arthritic and result in a permanent deformed or contracted toe.

This is only one example.  Consider what can happen to our toes when they are placed into high heeled shoes that women wear, or even narrow fitting dress shoes for men.  Think about this the next time you go shoe shopping.

How do we fix them?  The best way is prevention.  Splinting can help, but if it’s a chronic deformed toe, then surgery is most likely the only option to straighten the toe.

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