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Tips for Preventing Hammertoe

Hammertoes are a foot deformity in which your toes curve under, like the head of a hammer, rather than laying straight. Approximately 29.5 million women and men in the United States, or 9% of the population, suffer from hammertoes. An involuntary contracture of the toe joint causes hammertoe.

At Cortez Foot and Ankle Specialists, our providers diagnose and treat hammertoes at our offices in Bradenton, University Park, and Ellenton, Florida. Whether you already have a hammer toe and want to prevent the next one, you’re genetically susceptible to hammertoes, or just want to keep your toes healthy, here are a few tips. 

Forgive your folks

Some cases of hammertoe occur because of your genetics. In such a case, you may be unable to prevent hammertoes completely. However, good foot habits may slow the progression of hammertoe or prevent it from developing in the first place.

Get creative with footwear

Hammertoes usually develop when the muscles and ligaments in your toe become strained. Choosing certain kinds of shoes can either keep hammertoe at bay or, literally, make your toes curl.

You may need to rethink aesthetics when it comes to footwear. Women, especially, are usually directed by style magazines and influencers to choose shoes with high heels and narrow toe boxes: Those are the absolute worst for your feet and can cause a number of issues in addition to hammertoes, such as corns and worsening bunions.

Look for lower heels or flats. Also, choose shoes with a square or wider toe box so your tootsies have some wiggle room.

Find the perfect fit

You may think you know your perfect shoe size. But if you’ve ever ordered shoes online, you may be in for a big (or too small) surprise. Every shoe manufacturer uses slightly different measurements.

In addition, your feet change and spread out as you age or during pregnancy. There’s even a difference in size between your two feet, so always buy the pair that fits your bigger foot comfortably.

Some shoes run small, big, wide, or narrow. Don’t assume you know your size. Try to measure your feet each time you go shoe shopping. However, the only measurement that really counts is the one that measures your comfort level in that shoe.

How to find the anti-hammertoe shoe

It’s not just the size and shape of your shoe that matters when making an anti-hammertoe shoe choice. You should take into consideration other factors that affect your fit. To find the most comfortable shoes: 

If the shoe you love is too tight in the store, walk away; it won’t stretch to fit later.

Give your toes some love

Even if you’ve found the perfect shoes for your feet, you still need to give your feet some love at the end of the day. Maintaining good circulation is key to preventing hammertoe. After a long day of walking, standing, running, or dancing, soak your feet in warm water with Epsom salts. After drying, elevate your feet and give them a massage, too. 

Do you already have hammertoes?

If you already have hammertoes, you may be able to reverse it by making a few simple lifestyle changes, which start with — you guessed it — your shoes! In addition to making the right choice in the first place, we can also prescribe custom orthotics to slip inside your shoes to keep your toes in alignment. 

Splints can straighten even the most stubborn toes. Medications can control the pain caused by blisters or other developments.

Severe hammertoe may need surgery to correct it. Our board-certified podiatric surgeons release the tendon that makes your toe curl. In some cases, we may need to remove a bone to keep your toes flat and functional.

You don’t have to put up with hammertoes. Contact Cortez Foot and Ankle Specialists for relief by calling or booking an appointment online at one of our offices today.

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