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.
The muscles of each toe work in pairs. When the toe muscles get out of balance, a hammer toe 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. Your genes, you may have inherited a tendency to develop hammer toes because your foot is
slightly unstable - such as a flat foot. But high-arched feet can also get hammer toes. Arthritis. Injury to the toe: ill-fitting shoes are the main culprits of this cause. 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.
The symptoms of a hammer toe are usually first noticed when a corn develops on the top of the toe and becomes painful, usually when wearing tight shoes. There may be a bursa under the corn or instead
of a corn, depending on the pressure. Most of the symptoms are due to pressure from footwear on the toe. There may be a callus under the metatarsal head at the base of the toe. Initially a hammer toe
is usually flexible, but when longstanding it becomes more rigid.
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
A toe doctor can provide you with devices such as hammer toe regulators or straighteners. These are also available for purchase locally. Another good idea is to start the hammer toe rehabilitation
process by gently trying to straighten the joint and moving and flexing the affected toe as much as possible without straining it. If hammer toe taping doesn?t work, you may require surgery. If the
joints and tendons have stiffened to a point of non-movement, hammer toe corrective surgery may need to enter the toe and Hammer toe
either cut or manually move some of the tendons and ligaments. Although the treatment is relatively safe fast, you may
deal with some stiffness afterwards.
In some cases, usually when the hammertoe has become more rigid and painful, or when an open sore has developed, surgery is needed. Often patients with hammertoe have bunions or other foot
deformities corrected at the same time. In selecting the procedure or combination of procedures for your particular case, the foot and ankle surgeon will take into consideration the extent of your
deformity, the number of toes involved, your age, your activity level, and other factors. The length of the recovery period will vary, depending on the procedure or procedures performed.