If you sneak a peek at your feet and notice that your toes are crossed, bent, or just pointing at an odd angle, you probably suffer from a Hammer toes
. Toes that are scrunched up inside tight shoes or pressed
against the toe box of the shoe can bend at the joints and stay that way - resulting in a hammertoe. A hammertoe is a contracture of the toe at one of the two joints in the toe. Due to the pull of
the Hammer toe
tendons, the joints become more rigid over time. The toe is bent up at the joint and does not straighten out.
The APMA says that hammertoe can result from a muscle imbalance in the foot that puts undue pressure on the joints, ultimately causing deformity. Inherited factors can contribute to the likelihood of
developing hammertoe. Arthritis, stroke or nerve damage from diabetes or toe injuries such as jamming or breaking a toe can affect muscle balance in the foot, leading to hammertoe. The Mayo Clinic
says that wearing improper shoes often causes hammertoe. Shoes that squeeze the toes, such as those with a tight toe box or with heels higher than two inches, can put too much pressure on the toe
The most obvious symptom of hammer, claw or mallet toe is the abnormal toe position. This is usually combined with pain: the abnormal foot position leads to excessive friction on the toe as it rubs
against any footwear which can be extremely painful. Corns & Calluses: repeated friction can result in the formation of a foot corn or callus on top of the toes. Stiffness, the joints become
increasingly stiff. In the early stages, the toes can usually be straightened out passively using your hands, but if allowed to progress, the stiffness may be permanent.
A hammertoe is usually diagnosed with a physical inspection of your toe. Imaging tests, such as X-rays, may be ordered if you have had a bone, muscle, or ligament injury in your toe.
Non Surgical Treatment
Wear sensible shoes. If you don?t want to have surgery to fix your hammertoe, use non-medicated padding along with proper shoes made with a wider and deeper toe box to accommodate your foot?s shape.
Ensuring your shoes have a good arch support can slow the progression of the condition as well. Use a pumice stone. The corn or callus that forms on top of the hammertoe can cause discomfort when you
wear shoes. Treat the corn by using a file or pumice stone to reduce its size after a warm bath, then apply emollients to keep the area softened and pliable. Use silicone or moleskin padding on top
of the area when wearing shoes. Do foot exercises. Theoretically, exercises like extending, then curling the toes, splaying the toes, and moving the toes individually may help prevent the digital
contracture that causes hammertoe. Try these suggestions and see what works best for you.
Several surgical procedures are available to the podiatric physician. For less severe deformities, the surgery will remove the bony prominence and restore normal alignment of the toe joint, thus
relieving pain. Severe hammertoes, which are not fully reducible, may require more complex surgical procedures. Recuperation takes time, and some swelling and discomfort are common for several weeks
following surgery. Any pain, however, is easily managed with medications prescribed by your podiatric physician.