5 Factors That Could Put You at Risk of Hammertoes
There are various truths in life that are constantly proven. One of them happens to be “life isn’t fair.” Of course, civilized humans should do our best to make things as reasonably fair as possible—wouldn’t be much need for our Oklahoma City elected officials otherwise—but the laws of nature are certainly outside of our sphere of control. This means that some people simply have a greater risk for various conditions and ailments, like bunions or hammertoes, than others.
General risk factors that make it more likely for you to develop hammertoes and related toe deformities (mallet toe, claw toe) include:
- Instability of your foot—Everyone’s arches begin to sag throughout your adult years. When you get to your late 30s or early 40s, you may notice your feet are a little tighter in some shoes. This isn’t because your bones are growing, it is because the arch is falling a little. This produces strain on the tendons and may cause the toes to buckle upwards, causing a hammertoe.
- Abnormal alignment—Some foot types just aren’t very stable. It may feel natural to you because it’s the way it has always been, but the alignment from your hip to your foot includes a lot of joints that have to work properly for your foot to function without excessive strain. So, although your foot might not look flat as a pancake, many times there is instability present. A podiatrist is trained to find these instabilities, and there may be options to improve your foot structure, like custom orthotics or a change in your footwear. Supporting the foot properly can help slow down the development of hammertoes before they get significantly worse.
- Age—As mentioned above, as time goes by, your foot changes. The arch falls some and the toes buckle. this toe contracture is frequently called a hammertoe.
- Gender—Women have higher odds of developing hammertoes or mallet toes than do men, especially women who have babies. The rapid weight gain and the hormones produced are the reason.
- Toe length—It is not uncommon for the 2nd toe to be longer that the 1st, and sometimes it becomes contracted.
Specifically, hammertoes can be caused by the following:
- Footwear—very flexible shoes do not support the foot, so the toes work harder. Very pointy shoes or very high heeled shoes also put abnormal stress on the toes which can lead to issues.
- Trauma—Injuring a toe—especially by jamming, breaking, or stubbing it—can increase the likelihood that you may develop a hammertoe or a related deformity (mallet toe, claw toe). It’s hard to prevent accidents, but be careful when carrying heavy items and wear protective footwear if you do so frequently.
- Nerve disorders or injuries—If you have sustained nerve damage from an injury or a medical issue like diabetes or a stroke, it can result in a case of hammertoes. There is not much that can be done in the way of prevention, but our office offers care and treatment that can help.
No matter the inherent cause or risk factor responsible for the condition, Foot & Ankle Center of Oklahoma provides the podiatric care you need. If you are dealing with a troublesome case of hammertoes, let us help. Call our Oklahoma City office at (405) 418-2676 or request an appointment online through our website today.
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