You Asked, We Answered! Find Information to Top Podiatry Questions
When your pain leaves you immobile and dependent on others, it’s normal that you have questions and lots of them! Check out our FAQ to get answers to some of the top questions people have about foot and ankle pain in Ohio.
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Hammer, mallet, and claw toe: What causes toes to curl?
The root cause of curling toes that won’t unfurl—whether they be hammertoes, mallet toes, or claw toes—is a muscle imbalance in your digits. When the muscle responsible for straightening your toes becomes too weak to work against its partner, the digit becomes “stuck,” first flexibly, but eventually rigidly.
But what causes the muscle imbalance? It could be a number of things. Stuffing your toes into shoes that are too small is one possibility, as it forces muscles to stay contracted for long periods of time. But in other cases, especially when claw toes are concerned, inflammatory diseases, nerve damage, or circulatory problems may be to blame. Conditions such as diabetes, arthritis, stroke, and alcoholism all increase your risk.
Don’t wait until it’s too late—early detection and treatment of deformed digits can help you prevent painful consequences like corns or blisters, without needing surgery. Visit Family Foot and Ankle Center at one of our six Greater Cincinnati locales—you can request an appointment online, or call us at (513) 728-4800 in Ohio, (859) 282-1572 in Kentucky.
What is the difference between a hammertoe and claw toe?
Hammertoes and claw toes are differentiated, chiefly, by the precise joints that are affected.
Most people have 3 joints in each of their smaller toes—one at the base, another in the middle, and a final one near the tip. If you have hammertoes, the middle joint is affected, bending downward. However, claw toes typically affect all three (or at least the first two)—up at the base, down in the middle, and under at the tip.
The two conditions also differ in terms of which toes are more likely to be affected, and their most probable causes. Although there is plenty of overlap, a hammertoe is relatively more likely to affect just the second toe and be caused by tight shoes, while claw toes more typically affect all four smaller toes at once and can be traced to an underlying medical condition such as nerve damage or poor circulation. However, there are plenty of exceptions to these general observations.
As soon as you notice any deformation in your toe joints, call Family Foot and Ankle Center for evaluation. Early treatment is the key to stopping pain before it starts, using simple means. Dial (513) 728-4800 or (859) 282-1572 today.
Why is the end of my toe bent?
Although a previous injury or nerve damage can play a role, by far the most common explanation for this condition is spending too much time in tight footwear. If you’re repeatedly stuffing your toes into shoes that are too short or too narrow, they may be forced to curve unnaturally for an extended period of time. Eventually the toe muscles become unbalanced and too weak to straighten the toe again on their own.
When toes get bent, get yourself to Family Foot and Ankle Center. Early detection and treatment can help you avoid complications like pain, corns, and walking trouble, and keep you out of surgery, too. Visit Family Foot and Ankle Center today at one of our six Greater Cincinnati offices, or call (513) 728-4800 or (859) 282-1572.
What is a mallet toe?
A mallet toe is a common deformity in which the final joint in the toe (the one closest to the tip) bends downward. It’s very similar to the more well-known hammertoe, which affects the middle joint rather than the end one. Depending on the progression of the deformity, symptoms can range anywhere from a simple aesthetic irregularity to pain, development of corns and calluses, and even difficulty walking. It typically occurs in the second toe.
Mallet toes usually start out somewhat flexible—you can’t straighten it out using your toe muscles alone, but you can move it with your fingers—and at this stage conservative treatments are often successful. Over time, though, it becomes more rigid, and surgery may become necessary.
If you notice any crookedness or unnatural bending in your toe joints, seek help soon—early detection often means simple, non-invasive tactics can resolve your symptoms, or even prevent them before they occur. Give us a call at (513) 728-4800 or (859) 282-1572, or set up an appointment online today.
How Can I Treat my Hammertoes?
The number of hammertoe treatment options at your disposal depends on how severe the problem has become. Because this is a progressive condition that will only get worse without treatment, the sooner you begin, the better.
In the early stages when the toe is still flexible, you can gently stretch and massage the affected digits, do foot exercises to strengthen the weakened muscles, or use splints to align them in the proper position. Shoes for hammertoes should be broad, roomy, and seamless on the inside to prevent painful friction on the affected area. Shoe inserts or custom orthotics can correct the biomechanical imbalances that led to the initial development. If the toes become rigid and conservative attempts to relieve the discomfort all fail, surgery to remove excess bone and realign the toes may be necessary.
At the first sign of hammertoes, contact Family Foot and Ankle Center right away. We will assess your condition, prescribe any necessary treatment plans, and guide you through any lifestyle changes you may require. Contact us at (513) 728-4800 in Ohio, or (859) 282-1572 in Kentucky.