The Link Between Diabetes and Hammertoes

The Link Between Diabetes and Hammertoes

Hammertoe is a foot condition that makes the middle joint of your toe permanently bend up. It’s caused by an imbalance between the muscles, tendons, and ligaments in your feet, and it can be painful if left untreated.

Millions of Americans have hammertoes. And if you have diabetes, your risk of developing a hammertoe could be higher. That’s because diabetic neuropathy, or nerve damage, triggers changes in your feet that make muscle imbalance more likely.

Having diabetes means taking extra care to avoid diabetic foot complications, and our team at Performance Footcare PC is here to help. Bryon Butts, DPM. offers comprehensive diabetic foot care and hammertoe treatment to help you manage your condition.

Why diabetes can cause hammertoe

Diabetes is a metabolic condition that elevates your blood sugar. High blood sugar damages your blood vessels and nerves over time, resulting in a condition called diabetic neuropathy.

About 50% of people with diabetes have neuropathy. It can develop anywhere in your body, but it’s most common in feet. It starts with tingling, and eventually, it can lead to numbness and loss of sensation.

Unfortunately, your nerves control muscle movement along with sensation. Neuropathy can break communication between the nerves, muscles, and tendons in your feet, which makes those soft tissues shrink and contract.

Diabetic hammertoes develop when your toe muscles contract and create an imbalance with other muscles in your feet and legs. You may not be able to straighten the toe anymore, and the bump it creates can rub against shoes and socks.

As your hammertoe worsens, the friction against footwear can form a painful sore. Diabetic neuropathy also affects your body’s ability to heal, and that sore could turn into an ulcer or slow-healing wound that requires professional wound care.

How to reduce your risk of diabetic foot problems

Diabetes increases your risk of hammertoe and other serious foot conditions, but there’s a lot you can do to protect your foot health. To start, get annual diabetic foot exams and make sure you have a diabetes management plan that’s working well for you. 

Annual foot exams are essential because we can identify small cuts and scrapes, early signs of hammertoe, and other issues before they progress. Along with comprehensive exams, we can teach you how to examine your own feet and trim your nails properly.

Proactively manage any existing foot conditions to keep them from getting worse. Remember to never attempt treating ingrown nails, calluses, or corns on your own, because doing so can put you at risk of infection. 

The shoes you wear are also important when you have diabetes. Tight shoes that squeeze your toes can worsen hammertoes, while properly-fitting shoes with wide toe boxes keep your feet more comfortable.

If you’re not sure where to start, talk with Dr. Butts. He and our team can measure your feet, recommend shoe options, or suggest custom orthotics to support your feet and lower your risk of diabetic foot problems.

Don’t wait to start taking care of your feet. Schedule a hammertoe evaluation or a diabetic foot exam at the Performance Footcare PC offices in Lake Success, or New York, New York. Contact us to get started today.

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