is a toe that tends to remain bent at the middle joint in a
claw-like position. There are 2 types of hammer toe. Flexible hammer toe, can be straightened by hand. Rigid hammer toe, cannot be pulled straight and can be extremely painful. The position of the
toe can also lead to corns or calluses. These may also be painful. Hammer toe may be present at birth or develop later in life due to tendons that have tightened, causing the toe's joints to curl
downward. Occasionally, all toes may be bent. This may be due to problems with the peripheral nerves or the spinal cord.
While most cases of hammertoes are caused by an underlying muscle imbalance, it may develop as a result of several different causes, including arthritis, a hereditary condition, an injury, or
ill-fitting shoes. In some cases, patients develop hammertoes after wearing shoes or stockings that are too tight for long periods of time. These patients usually develop hammertoes in both
The symptoms of hammertoe include a curling toe, pain or discomfort in the toes and ball of the foot or the front of the leg, especially when toes are stretched downward. Thickening of the skin above
or below the affected toe with the formation of corns or calluses. Difficulty finding shoes that fit well. In its early stages, hammertoe is not obvious. Frequently, hammertoe does not cause any
symptoms except for the claw-like toe shape.
The earlier a hammertoe is diagnosed, the better the prognosis and treatment options. Your doctor will be able to diagnose your hammertoe with a simple examination of the foot and your footwear. He
or she may take an x-ray to check the severity of the condition. You may also be asked about your symptoms, your normal daily activities, and your medical and family history.
Non Surgical Treatment
If the affected toe is still flexible, you may be able to treat it by taping or splinting the toe to hold it straight. Your family doctor can show you how to do this. You may also try corrective
footwear, corn pads and other devices to reduce pain. You may need to do certain exercises to keep your toe joints flexible. For example, you may need to move and stretch your toe gently with your
hands. You can also exercise by picking things up with your toes. Small or soft objects, such as marbles or towels, work best. If your hammer toe becomes painful, you may need to apply an ice pack
several times a day. This can help relieve the soreness and swelling. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medicines (also called NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen (two brand names: Advil, Motrin) or naproxen
(one brand name: Aleve), may be helpful. If your pain and swelling are severe, your doctor may need to give you a steroid injection in the toe joint.
If conservative treatments fail and your symptoms persist, the doctor may recommend a surgical option to straighten the toe. The procedures used vary greatly, depending upon the reasons for the
hammertoe. There are a number of different operations to correct hammertoes, the most common ones involve Soft tissue corrections such as tendon transfers, tendon lengthening, and joint capsule
repairs. Digital arthroplasty involves removal of bone from the bent joint to allow the toe to straighten. The temporary use of pins or K-wires may be necessary to keep the toe straight during the
healing period. Joint implants are sometimes used to allow for a better range of motion in the toe following surgery. Digital arthrodesis involves the removal of bone from the bent joint and fusing
the toe in a straight position. If the corn is due to a bone spur, the most common procedure used is an exostectomy, in which surgically removing it or filing it down removes the bone spur. Because
of the possible complications involved with any surgery, one should be sure to understand the risks that may be Hammer toes
involved with surgery to correct hammertoes and remove bone spurs.
Hammertoe can usually be prevented by wearing shoes that fit properly and give the toes plenty of room. Don?t wear shoes with pointed or narrow toes. Don?t wear shoes that are too tight or short.
Don?t wear high-heeled shoes, which can force the toes forward. Choose shoes with wide or boxy toes. Choose shoes that are a half-inch longer than your longest toe. If shoes hurt, don?t wear them.