A Hammer toes
is a deformity of the second, third or fourth toes. In this condition, the toe is
bent at the middle joint, so that it resembles a hammer. Initially, hammer toes are flexible and can be corrected with simple measures but, if left untreated, they can become fixed and require
surgery. People with hammer toe may have corns or calluses on the top of the middle joint of the toe or on the tip of the toe. They may also feel pain in their toes or feet and have difficulty
finding comfortable shoes.
But what causes the imbalance of the tendons and muscles in the first place so that they begin to pull and bend the joint? A bad fitting shoe could be the cause but it usually isn?t the primary
cause. Many people are genetically predisposed to hammertoe, and the condition begins to progress more quickly when they wear shoes that fit poorly, for example pointy toes, high heels, or shoes that
are too short. Hammertoe may also be caused by damage to the joint as a result of trauma.
The symptoms of hammertoe are progressive, meaning that they get worse over time. Hammertoe causes the middle joint on the second, third, fourth, or fifth toes to bend. The affected toe may be
painful or irritated, especially when you wear shoes. Areas of thickened skin (corns) may develop between, on top of, or at the end of your toes. Thickened skin (calluses) may also appear on the
bottom of your toe or the ball of your foot. It may be difficult to find a pair of shoes that is comfortable to wear.
Although hammertoes are readily apparent, to arrive at a diagnosis the foot and ankle surgeon will obtain a thorough history of your symptoms and examine your foot. During the physical examination,
the doctor may attempt to reproduce your symptoms by manipulating your foot and will study the contractures of the toes. In addition, the foot and ankle surgeon may take x-rays to determine the
degree of the deformities and assess any changes that may have occurred.
Non Surgical Treatment
A number of approaches can be undertaken to the manage a hammer toe. It is important that any footwear advice is followed. The correct amount of space in the toe box will allow room for the toes to
function without excessive pressure. If a corn is present, this will need to be treated. If the toe is still flexible, it may be possible to use splints or tape Hammer toe
to try and correct the toe. Without correct fitting footwear, this is often unsuccessful.
Padding is often used to get pressure off the toe to help the symptoms. If conservative treatment is unsuccessful at helping the symptoms, surgery is often a good option.
A variety of anaesthetic techniques are possible. Be sure an discuss this with your surgeon during your pre-op assessment. The type of surgery performed will depend on the problem with your toes and
may involve releasing or lengthening tendons, putting joints back into place, straightening a toe and changing the shape of a bone.Your surgeon may fix the toes in place with wires or tiny
Preventing foot problems, including hammertoes, is often a matter of wearing the right shoes and taking care of your feet. Check your feet regularly for problems. This is especially true if you have
diabetes or any other medical condition that causes poor circulation or numbness in your toes. If you do, check feet daily so that problems can be caught early on.