Causes of Toe Deformities
Although there are some specific causes for each of the toe deformities (hammer toe, mallet toe, claw toe), the majority of causes are similar with all of them.
If you suffer from flat feet, your flexor muscles are generally stronger than the other muscles; which creates a muscle imbalance. These muscles exert more tension on your foot which pulls the normal arch in your foot down - creating a flatter arch and longer foot. As a result your weaker toe muscles are overpowered, which can result in a toe deformity.
Inappropriate footwear (short, tight, narrow, pointed, or high heels) that puts pressure on your feet and keeps your toes in an unnatural bent and/or squished position where they rub against the shoes can also cause a toe deformity. If you wear this type of shoe over a long period of time your toe muscles won't be able to straighten your toe even if you are not wearing shoes. Often hard growths of dead skin such as corns (on top of toe) or calluses (on bottom of toe or sole of foot), or bunions (bump on side of big toe joint, normally an enlargement of bone or tissue) will develop from these pressure points, and initiate your toe deformity.
Other causes of toe deformities are:
- Different foot structures, conditions from birth or an abnormal toe bone length
- Hereditary characteristics
- Muscle, nerve and joint damage from osteoarthritis, stroke, neuromuscular diseases (multiple sclerosis, Charcot-Marie Tooth disease, cerebral palsy, degenerative disc disease), inflammatory diseases (rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis) or diabetes, poor blood flow to your feet (peripheral arterial disease)
- Previous toe injuries or poor foot mechanics and movement
- Partial or complete dislocation of one of your toe joints
- Excessive pressure on your foot due to height, weight, and activity levels
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