Are Your High-Heeled Shoes Causing Hammertoe?

Jul 12, 2022
Are Your High-Heeled Shoes Causing Hammertoe?
Could the shoes you wear cause foot problems? Wearing high heels is one of the most common causes of hammertoe. Here’s what it is, how to prevent it, and how to treat it if you have it.

Are you suffering from sores and blisters on your feet after wearing your favorite high-heeled shoes? You might want to reconsider your choice of footwear, as there is a connection between high-heeled shoes and a common foot deformity known as hammertoe.

Double board-certified podiatrist Eric Gilbertson, DPM, FACFAS at Renew Foot & Ankle, LLC in Grand Rapids and Bigfork, Minnesota, specializes in diagnosing and treating a wide range of podiatric problems including hammertoe. He offers hammertoe implants that quickly restore your ability to walk comfortably.

What is hammertoe?

A joint deformity that develops due to an imbalance of the toe’s ligaments, tendons, and muscles, hammertoe can occur in the second, third, or fourth toe on either foot. Hammertoe causes an unusual bend in the middle joint of the toe, and moving your toe with the condition can be painful.

During the early stages of hammertoe, you may notice your foot is uncomfortable or experiences pain, especially when wearing narrow-toed shoes or high-heels. The toe still has flexibility and can be treated fairly easily. Left untreated, hammertoe progresses and eventually requires corrective surgery to fix.

The high-heels and hammertoe connection

Wearing high heels is one of the most common causes of hammertoe. When you insert your feet into high heels, it forces your feet into an unnatural arch and causes a lot of pressure on the balls of your feet. High heeled shoes also typically have narrow toe boxes, which push your toes together. The combination of these factors leads to an imbalance of the muscles, ligaments, and tendons in your toes, and causes hammertoe.

Other causes of hammertoe

If you don’t wear high-heeled shoes, your risk for developing hammertoe is lower, but there are other factors that contribute to developing the podiatric condition. Sometimes hammertoe is caused by an injury, like breaking your toe. 

The following factors increase your risk of developing hammertoe:

  • Old age
  • Arthritis
  • Diabetes
  • Having a second toe longer than your big toe

Hammertoe may also be caused by a genetic muscle imbalance.

How to prevent hammertoe

The easiest and most effective way to prevent the development of hammertoe is to wear shoes that fit your feet properly. This includes avoiding pointy-toed shoes, high-heeled shoes, and flip flops that don’t provide support for your feet.

Go shoe shopping in the evening, when your feet are likely swollen and at their largest. If you shop for shoes in the morning, you may find your shoes fit too tightly in the evening. 

If you have an inflexible hammertoe, or are likely to develop one, Dr. Gilbertson may recommend hammertoe surgery to treat it. Hammertoe surgeries used to require pins that straighten the toe, with the pins sticking out of your toe during recovery. Today, Dr. Gilbertson uses a minimally invasive technique and hammertoe implants that do not require any external hardware to treat hammertoe.

To learn more, book an appointment online or call Renew Foot & Ankle today.