Mallet toe and hammertoes are deformities of the joints. They form for a number of reasons. Identifying that reason and treating it is usually necessary to prevent the deformity from progressing further. Reversing it may require surgical correction, if it is not caught in time.
So, if you are starting to see changes in the joints of your toes, it is time to take action. Here’s what to do.
Identify the Reason
What is causing the joint change? Rheumatoid and osteoarthritis cause damage to the joints. Although, past treatments for arthritis focused on pain management, other courses of action are now recommended, included regular physical activity and weight bearing exercises.
The length of your toes and your general foot health could be the cause of the joint changes. For example, if your second toe is longer than your big toe, it could be in a constantly cramped position due to poor fitting shoes, a tight toe-box or hard shoe materials. Bunions and plantar warts can also cause the toe’s tendon to shorten and eventually produce the deformity.
High arches and flat feet can eventually cause the joint changes. Wearing shoes with no arch support can eventually cause the problems, too.
In addition to arthritis, other diseases can cause mallet toe and hammertoes. Or, at least, the condition is more common in people that have diseases like diabetes. A stroke can be a contributing factor. Joint changes are classic symptoms of Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease.
Correct the Cause
If none of the above causes seem to apply, then you are not wearing friendly shoes. You need to face that fact, before you proceed. Our feet should be cared for in the same way that we care for the rest of our bodies. Fashion designers have made it difficult for people, especially women, to stand and walk in comfort.
If the cause of your mallet toe is an underlying disease, a trip to the podiatrist is in order. Unlike your regular family doctor, a podiatrist specializes in treating foot problems. Diabetics should visit a podiatrist regularly.
For high arches, custom orthotics is the solution. Orthotic inserts are also helpful for people that suffer from Charcot foot.
For flat feet, arch supports are the answer. In fact, anyone will benefit from good arch support.
Exercise Your Toes
Physical therapy for the toes might seem like an unusual idea, but some exercises will help to stretch the tendons and strengthen the joints. For example, curling up a newspaper with your toes or gently stretching them manually may help reverse mallet toe.
Use Straighteners and Separators
Straighteners, separators and caps combined with practical shoes that have a large deep toe box are helpful for anyone, regardless of the cause of the problem. Even if they cannot reverse the condition completely, they will help prevent it from worsening.
When you choose shoes, make sure that there is plenty of room to wiggle your toes. If not, then the shoes are too tight. Surgery is sometimes necessary to correct mallet toe. It’s best to avoid that option, if at all possible.