The term Hammer toes
refers to a common deformity of the foot in which either
the second, third, or fourth toe is bent at the middle joint, so that the tip of the toe is bent downward while the middle of the toe is cocked upward resembling a hammer. The hammer toe deformity is
the most common deformity of the small toes. When a hammer toe first develops, it can be bent back into its normal position. If not treated, a hammer toe may become rigid and require surgical
correction in order to correct the deformity. Symptoms and signs associated with hammer toe include corns or calluses on the affected toe and pain in the affected area. It may be difficult for people
suffering from hammer toe to find comfortable shoes.
As described above, the main reason people develop hammertoes is improper footwear, or footwear that is too short for the toes. Shoes that do not allow our toes to lie flat are the biggest cause of
hammertoes, though there are others, including genetics, injury or trauma in
which the toe is jammed or broken. Diseases that affect the nerves and muscles, such as arthritis. Abnormal foot mechanics due to nerve or muscle damage, causing an imbalance of the flexor and
extensor tendons of the toe. Systematic diseases such as arthritis can also lead to problems such as hammertoe. Some people are born with hammertoes, while others are more prone to developing the
condition due to genetics. If you have ever broken a toe, you know there is not much that can be done for it. It is one of the only bones in the body that heals without the use of a cast. A broken
toe may be splinted, however, which may help prevent a hammertoe from forming.
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.
Your healthcare provider will examine your foot, checking for redness, swelling, corns, and calluses. Your provider will also measure the flexibility of your toes and test how much feeling you have
in your toes. You may have blood tests to check for arthritis, diabetes, and infection.
Non Surgical Treatment
Apply a commercial, nonmedicated hammertoe pad around the bony prominence of the hammertoe. This will decrease pressure on the area. Wear a shoe with a deep toe box. If the hammertoe becomes inflamed
and painful, apply ice packs several times a day to reduce swelling. Avoid heels more than two inches tall. A loose-fitting pair of shoes can also help protect the foot while reducing pressure on the
affected toe, making walking a little easier until a visit to your podiatrist can be arranged. It is important to remember that, while this treatment will make the hammertoe feel better, it does not
cure the condition. A trip to the podiatric physician?s office will be necessary to repair the toe to allow for normal foot function. Avoid wearing shoes that are too tight or narrow. Children should
have their shoes properly fitted on a regular basis, as their feet can often outgrow their shoes rapidly. See your podiatric physician if pain persists.
Surgery to correct for a hammertoe may be performed as a day procedure. There are several different types of procedures that can be used depending on the foot structure and if the deformity is
flexible or rigid.