Preventing hammertoes

Health Watch

Seven million people in the U.S. have experienced a hammertoe, where the second, third, or fourth toe becomes bent at the middle joint.

It causes pain in toes and feet and makes it almost impossible to find comfortable shoes. There are some steps people can take to reduce their risk for a hammertoe.

Certain medical conditions, those fashionable shoes, and even your genes … no, not the ones you wear, but the ones your parents gave you can increase your risk for this: an uncomfortable, unsightly hammertoe.

“The two things that can make hammertoe worse is genetics, which obviously the patient can’t control. The other is shoe gear,” explained podiatrist Jessica Sciulli, DPM.

But did you know, the time of day you buy new shoes can lower your risk? Feet tend to swell a little bit, so buying shoes at the end of the day will give you a better sense of fit. Also, take care of any calluses, corns, blisters, and bunions.

“A lot of times actually the bunion is what contributes to the hammertoes getting worse,” continued Dr. Sciulli.

Consult your doctor for the right course of treatment to handle these conditions before they worsen. Just like with any muscle, exercising can make your toes flexible and strong. Try extending and curling your toes and even play a game of marble pickup.

Make sure to promote good blood circulation by elevating your feet regularly. And treat yourself to warm foot baths and massages, to keep your toes in tip-top shape.

Interestingly, most people have one foot that is bigger than the other. You want to get shoes that fit the bigger foot.

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