A Hammer toes
is a toe that is bent because of a muscle imbalance
around the toe joints. The imbalance causes the toe to bend at one or more joints, pushing the middle of the toe upward in a claw-like position. If you notice such changes, it is important to seek
proper treatment. Hammer toes never get better without some type of intervention and the sooner it is treated, the better the outcome.
Most hammertoes are caused by wearing ill-fitting, tight or high-heeled shoes over a long period of time. Shoes that don't fit well can crowd the toes, putting pressure on the middle toes and causing
them to curl downward. The condition may be more likely when the second toe is longer than the first toe or when the arch of the foot is flat. Hammertoe hammertoes
can also be present at birth (congenital). Hammertoe also can be caused by a bunion, which is
the knobby bump that sometimes develops at the side of the big toe. A bunion causes the big toe to bend toward the other toes. The big toe can then overlap and crowd the smaller toes. Occasionally, a
hammertoe is inherited or caused by arthritis in the toe joint.
The symptoms of a hammer toe include the following. Pain at the top of the bent toe upon pressure from footwear. Formation of corns on the top of the joint. Redness and swelling at the joint
contracture. Restricted or painful motion of the toe joint. Pain in the ball of the foot at the base of the affected toe.
Some questions your doctor may ask of you include, when did you first begin having foot problems? How much pain are your feet or toes causing you? Where is the pain located? What, if anything, seems
to improve your symptoms? What, if anything, appears to worsen your symptoms? What kind of shoes do you normally wear? Your doctor can diagnose hammertoe or mallet toe by examining your foot. Your
doctor may also order X-rays to further evaluate the bones and joints of your feet and toes.
Non Surgical Treatment
Conservative treatment is the first choice, often starting with a change of shoes to ones that have soft, larger toe spaces. Toe exercises may be prescribed to stretch and strengthen the toe muscles.
Over-the-counter straps, cushions or non-medicated corn pads may be recommended to help relieve your symptoms.
There are generally two methods surgeons use to correct hammer toes, they are joint resection (arthroplasty) or bone mending (fusion), and the location where this is performed on the toe depends on
where the toe is buckled. Its important to recognize that most of the surgical work involved the joints of the toe, not the joint of the ball of the foot. Sometimes a toe relocation procedure is
needed when the joint of the ball of the foot is malaligned (subluxed or dislocated).