September is National Square Dancing month, but you might not feel like do-si-do-ing and turning your partner ‘round if you have mallet toes. Having a foot deformity makes wearing shoes difficult and uncomfortable, so wearing pointy cowboy boots is probably the last thing you want to do. The best course of action for mallet toe is prevention.

Mallet toes occur when the joint in the middle of the toe bends unnaturally so that it begins to look like a mallet. This can stem from wearing shoes that are too tight and narrow in the toe area, such as high heels or cowboy boots. For this reason, we see a lot more women come in with mallet toes than men. However, your footwear isn’t the only reason for this condition to develop. It can also occur after a traumatic incident to the toe, such as having something heavy fall on it. Additionally, having a nerve disorder can cause this problem, so people with diabetes or stroke should watch out for any toe issues.

Preventing mallet toes from happening in the first place is the best treatment. Otherwise, once your toes become rigid, you may have to consider surgery, which we want to avoid if possible. Unfortunately, it’s not always completely preventable because accidents happen, but there are some things you can do to decrease your risk. The most important thing is to make sure your shoes fit your feet. Your toe box should allow adequate wiggle room so that toes aren’t crammed in there and squished together. Choosing lower heels is even better because it puts less pressure on your toes and balls of your feet. Shoes with laces are also recommended because they are adjustable, and using shoe inserts can also help to take away some of the pressure.

For more information on preventing mallet toes, call Dr. Mitchell Wachtel at (978) 794-8406 to schedule an appointment at one of three Massachusetts office locations: North Andover, Lowell, or Haverhill. We can help answer your questions and get you started on a treatment program for an existing condition.