High heels are known to cause a lot of different problems from your feet to your back, but no matter how much women are warned against wearing them, heels remain in high demand. But here’s another reason to stay away from heels – hammertoes.

When wearing high heels, there are two main issues that cause hammertoes.

The first is that the front of the shoes are most likely pinched which creates the illusion that your feet are slimmer. When cramming your feet into a space that is too small, your toes get bent into an awkward position. Making it even worse, the toes end up rubbing against the shoe when in motion causing corns and calluses to form.

The second issue is that the heel itself causes the muscles in your feet and toes to be improperly balanced causing the muscles to tighten in a bent position. If the muscle is in the same position for long enough, it has trouble stretching out on its own thus forming hammertoes.

Hammertoes are formed when the middle joint of the toe is bent out of position (into a “hammer” shape) due to muscle or ligament issues surrounding the joint. There are two types of hammertoes – flexible hammertoes where the toes still have movement; and rigid hammertoes where the toes can no longer be moved and usually require surgery to treat. The good news is that flexible hammertoes can most likely be treated in the comfort of your own home.

For hammertoes caused by high heels here are a few things you can try:

  • Chang your shoes! – This it the best and fastest way to treating your hammertoes. Wear shoes that feel the most natural and comfortable for your feet.
  • Lower those heels – If you must wear heels, try to keep them under two inches.
  • Toe stretches – stretch your toes to help correct the toe position and lessen the pain.
  • Commercial hammertoe pads – These pads cushion the affected area and relieve pressure.
  • Ice your toes – If your hammertoe is painful or swollen, apply ice several times a day to reduce inflammation.
  • Visit your podiatrist – If you’re trying these home remedies and the hammertoes are not getting better, or feel worse, visit your podiatrist right away to make sure that your toes are getting proper treatment before they need surgery to fix.

Hammertoes can also be caused by arthritis or high arches. Dr. Kenneth R. Wilhelm of Clifton Foot & Ankle Center in Centreville, VA has been treating hammertoes as well as many other foot and ankle ailments for over 17 years. If you have hammertoes and need to see a podiatrist, call us at 703-996-3000 or make an appointment here.

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