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.
Medical problems, such as stroke or diabetes that affect the nerves, may also lead to hammertoe. For example, diabetes can result in poor circulation, especially in the feet. As a result, the person
may not feel that their toes are bent into unnatural positions. The likelihood of developing hammertoe increases with age and may be affected by gender (more common in women) and toe length; for
example, when the second toe is longer than the big toe, hammertoe is more likely to occur. Hammertoe may also be present at birth. Genetics may factor in to developing hammertoe, particularly if the
foot is flat or has a high arch, resulting in instability.
Here is a look at some of the symptoms hammertoe can cause. They include hammer-like or claw-like appearance of the toe. Pain when walking or moving the foot. Difficulty moving the toe. Corns may
form on top of the toe. Callus may form on the sole of the foot. During the initial stages, you may be able to manually straighten your toe. This is called a flexible hammertoe. But as time passes,
the toe will not move as easily and will continue to look like a hammer. Pressure and irritation over the joint can cause a blister to develop and become a corn over time. These corns have the
potential to become infected and cause additional symptoms such as redness, bleeding, and difficulty wearing shoes and socks. Corns are the main cause of pain when hammertoes are developing.
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
You should seek medical advice if you have a hammer toe. Here are some things you can do in the meantime. None of these things will cure the hammer toe, but they may relieve the pain and discomfort.
Only wear shoes that are high and broad across the toes. There should be at least 1.5 cm of space between your longest toe and the tip of the shoe. Keep in mind that this could be either your big toe
or your second toe. Don't wear heels higher hammertoes
than 5 cm. Wear the
appropriate shoe for the activity you are doing. You can buy non-medicated hammer toe pads. They fit around the pointy top of the toe joint and help relieve painful pressure. Gently massaging the toe
may help relieve pain. Put ice packs wrapped in cloth on the hammer toe to reduce painful swelling.
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.