The most noticeable sign of hammertoe is a toe that bends downward and looks like a hammer. In most cases, hammertoe causes some degree of pain in the affected toe, which may worsen when moving the feet or wearing shoes. Corns and calluses on the middle joint of the affected toe are common as well, especially when the hammertoe is caused by ill-fitting footwear. Sometimes, people with hammertoe experience swelling, redness, or a burning feeling in the foot. It may be difficult or impossible to straighten out the toe. In severe cases, open sores may develop on the affected toe.
If you’re predisposed to developing a hammertoe, there are steps you can take to prevent the problem from occurring. The best thing you can do to correct improper biomechanics caused by genetic factors, is to wear custom corrective inserts.
You should also wear comfortable, properly-fitting shoes with adequate toe room. Avoid shoes that have narrow or pointed toes, and choose footwear with low heels or no heels whenever possible. Laced or strapped shoes that allow for adjustments are ideal, too.
To make sure you select shoes that fit right, buy your shoes at the end of the day instead of in the morning. Your feet swell up throughout the day, so purchasing a new pair of shoes when your feet are swollen will ensure that they won’t be too tight. You should also have your feet measured before buying new shoes, especially if it’s been a long time since you’ve checked your size. Your shoe size can change as you age, so you should always keep up-to-date on your current size.