A Hammer toes
is a deformity of the second, third or fourth toes in which the main toe
joint is bent upward like a claw. Initially, hammertoes are flexible and can be corrected with simple measures. Left untreated, they can become fixed and require surgery. Hammertoe results from shoes
that don?t fit properly or a muscle imbalance, usually in combination with one or more other factors. Muscles work in pairs to straighten and bend the toes. If the toe is bent and held in one
position long enough, the muscles tighten and can?t stretch out.
As described above, the main reason people develop hammertoes is improper footwear, or footwear that is too short for the toes. Shoes that do not allow our toes to lie flat are the biggest cause of
hammertoes, though there are others, including genetics, injury or trauma in which the toe is jammed or broken. Diseases that affect the nerves and muscles, such as arthritis. Abnormal foot mechanics
due to nerve or muscle damage, causing an imbalance of the flexor and extensor tendons of the toe. Systematic diseases such as arthritis can also lead to problems such as hammertoe. Some people are
born with hammertoes, while others are more prone to developing the condition due to genetics. If you have ever broken a toe, you know there is not much that can be done for it. It is one of the only
bones in the body that heals without the use of a cast. A broken toe may be splinted, however, which may help prevent a hammertoe from forming.
The most obvious symptom of hammertoe is the bent, hammer-like or claw-like appearance of one or more of your toes. Typically, the proximal joint of a toe will be bending upward and the distal joint
will be bending downward. In some cases, both joints may hammertoes
bend downward, causing the toes
to curl under the foot. In the variation of mallet toe, only the distal joint bends downward. Other symptoms may include Pain and stiffness during movement of the toe, Painful corns on the tops of
the toe or toes from rubbing against the top of the shoe's toe box, Painful calluses on the bottoms of the toe or toes, Pain on the bottom of the ball of the foot, Redness and swelling at the joints.
If you have any of these symptoms, especially the hammer shape, pain or stiffness in a toe or toes, you should consider consulting your physician. Even if you're not significantly bothered by some of
these symptoms, the severity of a hammertoe can become worse over time and should be treated as soon as possible. Up to a point hammertoes can be treated without surgery and should be taken care of
before they pass that point. After that, surgery may be the only solution.
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
Treating hammertoe involves straightening the toe, making tendons in the toes flexible again, and preventing the problem from returning. Some simple treatments include Soaking your feet every day in
warm water, then stretching your toes and ankles by pointing your toes. Using over-the-counter pads, cushions or straps to decrease discomfort. Splinting the toe to keep it straight and to stretch
the tendons of the foot. Exercising the toes to relax the foot tendons (a session with a physical therapist may help you get started with foot exercises). One simple exercise is to place a small
towel on the floor and then pick it up using only your toes. You also can grasp at carpet with your toes or curl your toes up and down repeatedly. Wearing shoes that fit properly and give toes plenty
of room to stretch out.
Ordinary hammertoe procedures often use exposed wires which extend outside the end of toes for 4-6 weeks. Common problems associated with wires include infection where the wires come out of the toe,
breakage, pain from hitting the wire, and lack of rotational stability causing the toe to look crooked. In addition, wires require a second in-office procedure to remove them, which can cause a lot
of anxiety for many patients. Once inserted, implants remain within the bone, correcting the pain and deformity of hammertoes while eliminating many of the complications specific traditional