Why Is Your Toe Curling Up?

Is one of your toes becoming more and more bent at the middle joint? The toe may0- straighten if you straighten the joint manually, but will then pop back into this bent position. These symptoms can be alarming at first, but they are actually the mark of a rather common condition called hammertoe. Here's a closer look at the condition and what you need to do about it.

What is hammertoe, and what causes it?

Hammertoe is an imbalance of the muscles and tendons in the toe. The tendons shorten, causing the toe to take on a bent position when at rest. There are several possible causes of hammertoe:

  • Frequently wearing shoes that are too small and that push the toe into a bent position.
  • Suffering a traumatic injury to the toe and failing to seek proper treatment, causing the tendons to heal improperly.
  • Genetics; some people are born with hammertoes or are genetically prone to develop them later in life.

What issues does a hammertoe cause?

Hammertoe is not terribly dangerous, but it can cause quite a bit of discomfort. Your toe may become irritated when you wear closed shoes, since the top of the bent joint will rub on the top of your shoe. You may develop corns and calluses on the affected toe and on the neighboring toes if the hammertoe rubs against them while you walk. This rubbing can cause redness and a burning sensation. If open sores develop, you put yourself at risk of an infection.

How is hammertoe diagnosed and treated?

If you think you have hammertoe, you should make an appointment with your podiatrist. He or she will be able to visually confirm your diagnosis, and will then take some x-rays to evaluate the severity of the condition.

If you catch hammertoe early, your podiatrist may be able to correct it with orthotic devices and special shoes. Splints may also be used to align the bent toe, and pain relievers may be prescribed to keep you comfortable throughout the process.

For more advanced cases of hammertoe, surgery may be required in order to lengthen the tendons and straighten the toe out. This surgery is a rather common, minor procedure, though it will require that you stay off your feet for a few days afterwards. Some physical therapy may be required as you recover.

If your toe is staying in the bent position, seeking treatment sooner rather than later is the key to avoiding surgery. To learn more, speak with a business like Northern Care Inc Prosthetics & Orthotics.