Q. My mom has a hammer toe. Is there anything I can do now to prevent this from occurring as I age?
A. Hammertoes can be unsightly and painful. Although hammertoes are sometimes inherited, there are steps you can take to decrease the chances you will get one. Wearing tight shoes that cramp the toes can lead to hammertoes. Broken toes can also lead to hammertoes. If your mom broke her toe and it healed in a crooked position, that could have been the cause. Generally speaking, hammertoes result from a muscle imbalance within the foot. Those who are at risk of getting the inherited type may benefit from custom orthotics that stabilize the foot and correct any imbalance. Your foot and ankle surgeon can tell if you would benefit from orthotics. Keep in mind that hammertoes are progressive; they will get worse as you age. It is important to seek treatment early if you notice one developing. There are effective non-surgical treatments, but don’t wait until it’s too late. Sometimes the deformity has progressed, making surgery necessary in order to straighten the toe. Discuss the options with your foot and ankle surgeon when you first notice a hammertoe.
Jason Wamack, D.P.M.
Foot and Ankle Specialist
Center for Sports Medicine & Orthopaedics
2415 McCallie Avenue
Chattanooga, TN 37404
Ph. (423) 624-2696