Muscle Imbalance That Hammers Your Toes

Hammer ToesThere are some great rock faces on the Front Range of the Rockies near Denver. Groups like Denver Mountain Guiding offer instruction and guided climbs in favorite spots like Clear Creek Canyon or Three Sisters Park. They’ll teach you everything from hammering in pitons to finding the tiniest toe holds. There is a type of hammer that could restrict your ability to climb, though—hammertoes.

This toe deformity occurs from a variety of causes, including injury, diseases like arthritis or diabetes, foot structure problems (high arch, bunions), and tight ligaments or tendons. They can also be the result of wearing the wrong type of shoes.

With this condition, the middle joint of one of your smaller toes (most often the second or third) stays in a bent position, resembling an upside-down letter V—or the head of a hammer. The joint rubs against your shoes, causing pain and possibly a corn at the point of friction. The tip, being bent down, presses harder on your shoes and can form a callus. The bent toe can also throw off your balance. You could see why this deformity could cause a problem when you are hammering up a rock face, searching for a secure toehold.

As soon as you notice that your toe is bent up in the middle—even if you can still straighten it out—come and see us. We can evaluate the condition of your muscles, tendons, ligaments to see why it is happening. We can also conduct nerve function and circulation tests to determine whether any underlying medical conditions could be contributing to your hammertoes. A gait analysis and check for developing bunions could also help with diagnosis.

Many times, your toes can be treated with conservative methods like stretches, padding and taping, custom orthotics, pain relievers, and the like. Only in serious cases, where the toe is extremely rigid and painful, will we consider surgery to correct the imbalance.

Toe pain and bent joints are not normal and should be evaluated. Call (303) 423-2520 today and let the foot specialists at Rocky Mountain Foot & Ankle Center in Wheat Ridge, CO, help you with your hammertoe problem.

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