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.
The muscles of each toe work in pairs. When the toe muscles get out of balance, a hammertoe can form. Muscle imbalance puts a lot of pressure on the toe's tendons and joints. This pressure forces the
toe into a hammerhead shape. How do the toe muscles get out of balance? There are three main reasons. Genes. you may have inherited a tendency to develop hammertoes because your feet are somewhat
unstable, they may be flat or have a high arch. Arthritis. Injury to the toe, ill-fitting shoes are the main culprits. If shoes are too tight, too short, or too pointy, they push the toes out of
balance. Pointy, high-heeled shoes put particularly severe pressure on the toes.
Hammer toes can cause problems with walking and lead to other foot problems, such as blisters, calluses, and sores. Pain is caused by constant friction over the top of the toe?s main joint. It may be
difficult to fit into some shoe gear due to the extra space required for the deformed toe. In many cases there will be pain on the ball of the foot over Hammer toe
the metatarsals along with callus formation. This is due to the toes not
functioning properly, failing to properly touch the ground during the gait cycle. The ball of the foot then takes the brunt of the ground forces, which causes chronic pain.
Your doctor is very likely to be able to diagnose your hammertoe simply by examining your foot. Even before that, he or she will probably ask about your family and personal medical history and
evaluate your gait as you walk and the types of shoes you wear. You'll be asked about your symptoms, when they started and when they occur. You may also be asked to flex your toe so that your doctor
can get an idea of your range of motion. He or she may order x-rays in order to better define your deformity.
Non Surgical Treatment
Apply a commercial, nonmedicated hammertoe pad around the bony prominence of the hammertoe. This will decrease pressure on the area. Wear a shoe with a deep toe box. If the hammertoe becomes inflamed
and painful, apply ice packs several times a day to reduce swelling. Avoid heels more than two inches tall. A loose-fitting pair of shoes can also help protect the foot while reducing pressure on the
affected toe, making walking a little easier until a visit to your podiatrist can be arranged. It is important to remember that, while this treatment will make the hammertoe feel better, it does not
cure the condition. A trip to the podiatric physician?s office will be necessary to repair the toe to allow for normal foot function. Avoid wearing shoes that are too tight or narrow. Children should
have their shoes properly fitted on a regular basis, as their feet can often outgrow their shoes rapidly. See your podiatric physician if pain persists.
Joint resection procedures involves removing part of one of the two small joints of the toe directly underneath where the digit is crooked. The purpose is to make room for the toe to be re-positioned
flat or straight. Because hammer toes become rigid or fixed with time, removing the joint becomes the only option when the knuckle is stiff. Its important to understand that this procedure does not
involve the joint of the ball of the foot, rather the a small joint of the toe. Medical terminology for this procedure is called a proximal interphalangeal joint arthroplasty or a distal
interphalangeal joint arthroplasty, with the latter involving the joint closer to the tip of the toe.