Hammertoes are quite common and may range from mild to severe. A Hammer toe
is a contracture, or bending, of one or
more toes, usually due to an imbalance between the muscles or tendons on the top and bottom of the toes. Over time, the affected toes lose flexibility, becoming rigid and fixed in a contracted
position. The abnormal bend positions the knuckle of the toe upward, causing it to push against the top of the shoe leading to additional problems. The condition usually becomes progressively worse
if not treated.
A person may be born with hammer toe or may develop it from wearing short, narrow shoes. Hammer toe can occur in children who outgrow shoes rapidly. Sometimes hammer toe is genetic and is caused by a
nerve disorder in the foot. High heeled shoes are can also cause hammer toe. The reason for this is that the toes are not only bunched up, but the weight of the body is pushing them forward even
Signs and symptoms of hammertoe and mallet toe may include a hammer-like or claw-like appearance of a toe. In mallet toe, a deformity at the end of the toe, giving the toe a mallet-like appearance.
Pain and difficulty moving the toe. Corns and calluses resulting from the toe rubbing against the inside of your footwear. Both hammertoe and mallet toe can cause pain with walking and other foot
Most health care professionals can diagnose hammertoe simply by examining your toes and feet. X-rays of the feet are not needed to diagnose hammertoe, but they may be useful to look for signs of some
types of arthritis (such as rheumatoid arthritis) or other disorders that can cause hammertoe.
Non Surgical Treatment
If your toe is still flexible, your doctor may recommend that you change to roomier and more comfortable footwear and that you wear shoe inserts (orthotics) or pads. Wearing inserts or pads can
reposition your toe and relieve pressure and pain. In addition, your doctor may suggest exercises to stretch and strengthen your toe muscles. These may include picking up marbles or a thin towel off
the floor with your toes.
Any surgery must be carefully considered and approached in a serious manner, as any procedure is serious for the patient. But in most cases the procedure is relatively straight forward. The surgery
can be done using local anesthetic and does not require hospitalization. The patient goes home in a special post-operative shoe or a regular sandal, and in most cases can walk immediately. That's not
to say that the patient is walking or functioning normally immediately after the procedure. The patient must take some time off work to rest the foot and allow it to heal.
Walking barefoot increases the risk for injury and infection. Being on your feet throughout the day can cause them to swell, this is the best time to buy shoes to get a better fit. Do not buy shoes
that feel tight. Do not buy shoes that ride up and down your heel as you walk. The ball of your foot should fit into the widest part of the shoe. Remember, the higher the heel the less safe the shoe
will be. Avoid shoes with pointed or narrow toes. If the shoes hurt, do not wear them. If you start noticing the beginning signs of hammer toes, you may still be able to prevent the tendons from
tightening by soaking your feet every day in warm water, wearing toe friendly shoes, and performing foot exercises such as stretching your toes and ankles. A simple exercise such as placing a small
towel on the hammertoe
floor and then picking it up using only your toes can
help to restore the flexibility of tendons.