Orthotics for Hammertoe: Can They Help?

Do you have a toe that’s starting to bend upward at the joints, giving it a claw- or hammer-like appearance? The odds are fairly good that you’re developing a hammertoe, which requires early intervention so it doesn’t get worse.

At Neuhaus Foot and Ankle, our team of highly qualified podiatric specialists has one goal — to facilitate your journey through life by ensuring the health of your feet. We understand that even the smallest issue in your lower extremities can have a cascading effect, which is why seeking our help at the first signs of a problem is always a good idea. And this is certainly true of progressive conditions like hammertoes.

In the following, we explore how hammertoes arise and whether custom orthotics can play a role in halting their progression.

A balancing act

Your feet contain a full quarter of the bones in your body, and they’re surrounded by a host of supporting tissues like muscles, tendons, and ligaments. This complex arrangement in relatively small areas is what allows your feet to, quite literally, carry you through the world. The downside of this arrangement, however, is that even the slightest imbalance can have a widespread impact.

In the case of a hammertoe, the problem typically starts when an imbalance develops between the muscles and tendons in your second, third, fourth, or fifth toes, which causes a contracture in one or both joints of your toes.

Hammertoes develop slowly and they’re usually flexible, at first, which means you can push your joint back into position. Over time, however, the contracture can lead to permanent changes in the structures of your feet that “freeze” your toe into a hammer-like position.

While not necessarily medically dangerous, hammertoes can lead to:

In advanced cases, hammertoes can develop open wounds as the toe comes into repeated contact with your footwear.

Restoring balance with orthotics

If you have a toe that’s showing early signs of a contracture, our goal is to intervene quickly to halt the progression of the hammertoe. In many cases, a move to shoes with more room for your toes to spread out can have a positive impact, but this often isn’t enough.

To keep your feet comfortable and better balanced, we recommend custom orthotic inserts, which we design to fit your feet and your particular problem. For example, if you’re developing a hammertoe, our goal is to decrease the pull of your flexor tendon on your joints, which we can accomplish through your orthotics.

As well, if you’re experiencing pain in the balls of your feet because of your hammertoes, we can provide extra padding for your metatarsals.

Another technique we use is to outfit your orthotics with a grippier surface, which holds your toes in place. We can also raise your toes slightly to prevent the condition from worsening.

As you can see, orthotics are versatile tools that allow us to customize your treatment, which means they’re a great first line of defense against conditions like hammertoes.

To learn more about how custom orthotics can help with your hammertoes, please contact one of our locations in Hermitage, Brentwood, Nashville, Mount Juliet, Waverly, Smyrna, Murfreesboro, Gallatin, or Lebanon, Tennessee.

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