A Hammer toe
is a misshapen second, third, or fourth toe. The toe
bends up at the middle joint. The toe becomes a hammertoe because a muscle in the toe isn?t working properly or is too weak, increasing pressure on the tendons and the toe joints. Muscles normally
work in twos to bend and straighten toes. If the toe stays bent too long, a hammertoe develops. Ill-fitting shoes, arthritis, heredity, even an injury, can cause the hammertoe to form. To add insult
to injury, corns and calluses are common on top of hammertoes because the toe is rubbing against the shoe.
The main cause of hammer toe is poorly fitted and/or poorly designed footwear. Any footwear that is too tight in the toe box, especially high-heeled shoes, can push the toes forward, crowding one or
more of them into a space that is not large enough to allow the toes to lie flat and spread as they should. Other causes include the following. Changes in foot anatomy. Sometimes the metatarsal bones
in the ball of the foot can ?drop,? creating a situation in which the toes do not make contact with the surface of the shoe. The toes may then contract at one or both of the joints to re-establish
contact with the surface. Traumatic injuries in which toes are jammed or broken. Diabetic neuropathy. This can cause hammertoe
abnormal foot biomechanics due to nerve and/or muscle
damage. Damage to nerves and muscles from other conditions, such as arthritis or stroke. Heredity.
A hammertoe causes you discomfort when you walk. It can also cause you pain when trying to stretch or move the affected toe or those around it. Hammertoe symptoms may be mild or severe. Mild
Symptoms, a toe that is bent downward, corns or calluses. Severe Symptoms, difficulty walking, the inability to flex your foot or wiggle your toes, claw-like toes. See your doctor or podiatrist right
away if you develop any of these symptoms.
Hammer toes may be easily detected through observation. The malformation of the person's toes begin as mild distortions, yet may worsen over time - especially if the factors causing the hammer toes
are not eased or removed. If the condition is paid attention to early enough, the person's toes may not be permanently damaged and may be treated without having to receive surgical intervention. If
the person's toes remain untreated for too long, however the muscles within the toes might stiffen even more and will require invasive procedures to correct the deformity.
Non Surgical Treatment
Many people start by treating the problem themselves when they have a painful corn or callus. They try to remove the corn by cutting it off or by applying strong acids, and they try to cushion the
toe by applying cushioned pads. Because these treatments can be difficult to perform by oneself (and should never be done by oneself when the patient is diabetic or circulation is poor), and because
these treatments only treat the symptom, not the structural deformity that causes their symptom, these treatments can often provide only limited success, and often any success is for only short
periods of time. Changes in shoe choices and various types of paddings and other appliances may help, too. For longer-lasting help, we must examine the cause of the deformity. The reason for knowing
the cause is that the type of treatment will vary, depending upon the cause of the complaint. Orthotics help control the causes of certain types of contracted toes, (those caused by flexor
stabilization, for example), but not other types.
Surgery to correct for a hammertoe may be performed as an outpatient procedure at a hospital, surgery center, or in the office of your podiatrist. There are multiple procedures that can be used
depending on your individual foot structure and whether the deformity is flexible or rigid. There may be a surgical cut in the bone to get rid of an exostosis, or a joint may be completely removed to
allow the toe to lay straight.