occurs from a muscle and ligament imbalance around the toe joint which
causes the middle joint of the toe to bend and become stuck in this position. The most common complaint with hammertoes is rubbing and irritation on the top of the bent toe. Toes that may curl rather
than buckle, most commonly the baby toe, are also considered hammertoes. It can happen to any toe. Women are more likely to get pain associated with hammertoes than men because of shoe gear.
Hammertoes can be a serious problem in people with diabetes or poor circulation. People with these conditions should see a doctor at the first sign of foot trouble.
Poorly fitting shoes and muscle imbalances are the most common causes of hammertoe. When shoes are too narrow or do not accommodate the shape and size of your feet, they often contort the position of
your toes. Choosing a shoe that fits is very important when it comes to avoiding foot problems like bunions or hammertoe. Having your toes bent for an extended period of time in a shoe that is too
narrow or small forces your toes to adapt to the cramped space. With time, the muscles in your feet become accustomed to holding the flexed position of your toes, making it harder, or even impossible
to straighten them.
Common symptoms of hammertoes include pain or irritation of the affected toe when wearing shoes. corns and calluses (a buildup of skin) on the toe, between two toes, or on the ball of the foot. Corns
are caused by constant friction against the shoe. They may be soft or hard, depending upon their location. Inflammation, redness, or a burning sensation. Contracture of the toe. In more severe cases
of hammertoe, open sores may form.
The treatment options vary with the type and severity of each hammer toe, although identifying the deformity early in its development is important to avoid surgery. Your podiatric physician will
examine and X-ray the affected area and recommend a treatment plan specific to your condition.
Non Surgical Treatment
If you have hammer toe, avoiding tight shoes and high heels may provide relief. Initial (non-surgical) treatment for hammer toe involves wearing shoes with plenty hammertoes
of room in the toe area. Shoes should be at least one-half inch longer than the longest toe. Stretching
and strengthening exercises for the toes (such as picking up items with the toes or stretching the toes by hand) are also recommended. Sometimes orthopedists recommend special pads, cushions, or
slings to help relieve the pain of hammer toe.
There are several surgical methods to correct a hammer toe. Your physician will decide which method will be most beneficial to you depending on the severity of your deformity, the direction the toe
is deviating and the length of the affected toe. Some common surgical methods include. Arthroplasty. To promote straightening, half of the joint located directly underneath the crooked part of the
toe is removed. Arthrodesis (fusion) To promote straightening, the joint directly underneath where the toe is crooked is completely removed. A wire or pin is inserted to aid healing. Tendon transfer.
Performed alone or in combination with other procedures, a surgeon will take tendons from under the toe and ?re-route? them to the top of the toe to promote straightening. Basal phalangectomy.
Performed to assist patients with severe stiffness, this procedure removes the base of the bone underneath the toe. Weil osteotomy. Performed to assist patients with severe stiffness, this procedure
involves shortening the metatarsal bone and inserting surgical hardware to aid healing.
Certain exercises such as moving and stretching your toe gently with your hands and picking up small or soft objects such as marbles or towels can keep your toe joints flexible, simple exercises can
stretch and strengthen your muscles. Limit high-heel use, well-designed flat shoes will be more comfortable than high heels. Don't wear shoes that are too short or too narrow, or too shallow, this is
especially important for children going through periods of rapid growth, the toe area should be high enough so that it doesn't rub against the top of your toes.