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Can Hammertoes Be Dangerous?

Can Hammertoes Be Dangerous?

People often shrug off certain foot issues like hammertoe since they seem to be a cosmetic problem. But this deformity occurs because of a muscle imbalance that affects a toe joint. When ignored, it can cause pain, swelling, and even immobility.

Still, is this problem ever dangerous?

Surprisingly, any foot issue, including hammertoes, can cause serious problems, especially in people with health conditions like diabetes. Plus, your foot health can affect your mobility and overall quality of life.

Our skilled team specializes in podiatric care to ensure you always put your best foot forward. If you have hammertoes, here’s why you should schedule a visit at Premier Foot and Ankle Center to avoid potential complications.

When hammertoes cause problems

Since hammertoes develop from muscular imbalances, they usually don’t cause severe issues in the earliest stages. Instead, you might notice one or more of your middle toes beginning to bend into a hammer-like position.

At this point, you likely have a flexible hammertoe, meaning you can still straighten the toe. But moving the foot in any way causes the toe to snap back into its bent position. Additional symptoms often include:

These issues may be uncomfortable, but you can often correct a flexible hammertoe with over-the-counter treatments and lifestyle changes — like wearing shoes that fit correctly.

When ignored, a hammertoe can advance to a rigid stage. Once this occurs, the tendons contract and tighten, forcing the toe joint out of alignment. This state can cause even more discomfort, open sores, and widespread symptoms than can spread across the ball, heel, and side of the foot.

In either stage, hammertoes can cause problems, but they become more concerning as they progress, especially for people with diabetes. This condition increases the chances of foot ulcers and infection, resulting in the need for amputation.

People with diabetes have increased risks of foot deformities, like hammertoe.

How to avoid hammertoe complications

In an ideal world, you could avoid the dangers of hammertoe by preventing them from occurring in the first place. 

To start, we recommend wearing shoes that fit properly, provide good arch support, and have plenty of space for your toes. Taking this step keeps your feet and toes in a healthy position, helping maintain tendon balance.

You can’t control other risk factors for this podiatric issue, like having bunions, flat feet, or high arches, sustaining traumatic toe injuries, or aging. Certain health conditions also increase your chances of hammertoe, like arthritis, stroke, diabetes, and Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease. 

As a result, we encourage our patients to keep an eye on their feet for issues like hammertoe. If you notice any signs of a problem or deformity, schedule an appointment for a diagnosis and treatment plan.

As mentioned above, solutions in the earliest stages of hammertoe are often noninvasive. But as the condition worsens, it can require surgery. 

If you have a condition like diabetes, we also recommend regular diabetic foot care appointments. During these visits, we closely examine your feet for problems and assess blood flow and sensation. We can also provide personalized guidance on how to care for your feet at home.

Do you have diabetes or a hammertoe? Schedule a consultation with our experts at Premier Foot and Ankle Center in Worcester or Webster, Massachusetts, today.

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