A hammertoe occurs when one or more of your toe joints start to abnormally bend. In the first stages the bend is mild, but over time it becomes more severe. Ultimately your toes, apparently confused, are pointing in various directions.
Ugly feet are embarrassing, but at least you won’t have pain – unless, of course, you decide to wear shoes. When your hammertoes rub against the insides of your shoes they become irritated and inflamed, making shoe wear an unpleasant experience.
If you continue wearing shoes, callus tissue starts to build up in order to protect the irritation and underlying bone. This callus is called a corn. Corns and hammertoes make buying new shoes (that conform to your foot shape) a major project.
Why You Have Hammertoes
Hammertoes can happen to anyone, rich or poor. Even celebrities get hammertoes. Podiatrists feel that hammertoes are caused by either foot twist or tight fitting shoes that have inadequate room in the toe box. They view hammertoes as a problem in which the symptoms are localized in the foot (not affecting other parts of the body) and so, if you have hammertoes, your doctor will probably just treat your foot pain:
- Padding the top of your corn to protect it from shoe irritation.
- Instructing you to avoid wearing shoes that are too short, have pointed toes and high heels.
- Giving you corticosteroid injections and/or non steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (such as ibuprofen) to reduce the inflammation and pain.
- Splinting or strapping your toes in an attempt to realign the bent toe(s).
- Fitting you with orthotics to help control the muscle/tendon imbalance in your foot.
If the above interventions fail, your doctor will probably advise surgery in order to straighten your toe(s) by fusing the bent toe joint(s).
The Real Reason You Have Hammertoes
In my clinical experience, I see hammertoes as being a symptom of a much larger problem. This problem starts as a structural alteration in your feet, present at birth – the Rothbarts Foot or PreClinical Clubfoot Deformity – which forces your feet to excessively twist when you walk.
When your foot is first placed on the ground, it must be flexible so that it can adapt to irregular or uneven ground surfaces. But as your weight moves forward over the arch of your foot and towards your toes, your foot must become a rigid lever so that it doesn’t buckle or collapse when you push off of it.
If your foot excessively twists, this prevents it from becoming a rigid lever. Thus, as you push off your toes, they move around (referred to as a ‘loose bag of bones’ syndrome). The muscles on the top and bottom of your foot contract in order to compensate for this toe instability. This contraction leads to the development of a hammertoe.
For a reason not yet known, not all people born with an abnormal foot structure develop hammertoes. However I do know that the majority of people who have hammertoes also have excessive foot twist.
Hammertoes are a problem that should be arrested before it becomes severe. If your toes are bent only by muscular contractions, then proprioceptive therapy may decrease the bend, making your shoe wear much more comfortable. But when your toe bones become fused, the only way to correct them is by surgical intervention.
So the time to take care of your hammertoes is now, before they become worse. Instead of padding your corns, taking drugs, getting injections, wearing orthotics, having your toes strapped, changing your shoe style or having invasive surgery, you must treat the larger problem – the reason why you developed hammertoes in the first place – your abnormal foot structure.
Reading the Curing Chronic Pain website will give you more information about the abnormal foot structures Professor/Dr. Rothbart discovered that cause many forms of chronic muscle and joint pain and help you determine whether an Initial Phone Consultation with him might be helpful.
For a more complete explanation of the Rothbarts Foot and PreClinical Clubfoot Deformity, read: Abnormal Foot Structures That Cause Chronic Pain.
To find out if you may have one of two common inherited, abnormal foot structures that cause chronic muscle and joint pain, take the Rothbarts Foot Questionnaire.
As you learn more about Professor/Dr. Rothbart’s innovative therapy, you may find that addressing and effectively treating your foot structure may be the missing link to ending your long time battle with unrelenting muscle and joint pain.
If you have questions about what’s involved in being treated with Rothbart Proprioceptive Therapy by long distance, see our FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) Page by clicking here.
If you would like to contact Professor/Dr. Rothbart regarding an appointment to resolve your chronic muscle and joint pain, click here. http://www.curingchronicpain.com/schedule-an-initial-phone-consultation
Professor/Dr. Brian A. Rothbart
Chronic Pain Elimination Specialist
Discovered the Rothbarts Foot and PreClinical Clubfoot Deformity
Developer of Rothbart Proprioceptive Therapy
Inventor and Designer of Rothbart Proprioceptive Insoles
Founder of the International Academy RPT
Free Excerpt from Professor/Dr. Rothbart’s second book, The Foot’s Connection To Chronic Pain