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Family Health: Hammer Toes

Many times poor-fitting shoes are to blame, but genetics also plays a role.
Hammer toes, corns and calluses! If you wear high-heeled shoes a lot, chances are you've already been introduced to these foot troubles.

While poorly-fitting shoes can be one of the reasons any of these foot ailments happen, genetics may play a role too.

"Hammer toes and bunions can all be caused by several reasons but one is improperly fitting shoes. It can be a combination of improperly fitting shoes and some genetic factors that come into play," says Dr. Joy Rowland, a podiatrist at Cleveland Clinic.

A 'hammer toe' is a toe that's bent abnormally at the middle joint. You may have pain at the top of the toe, redness and swelling - or it may even be hard or painful to move the toe. A hammer toe is easier to treat sooner than later, so Dr. Rowland says to look for early signs.

"When you're wearing those shoes and you notice some irritation on your toes, they may be an early development of a hammer toe. That's the best time to get something looked into because they will just continue to develop," she says.

If you notice your feet looking a little different, or feeling any pains, have them checked out by your podiatrist.

Dr. Rowland says the best defense against foot problems is a good fitting shoe that's comfortable, supportive and doesn't cramp your toes.
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