affects both joints of a toe, causing the toe to bend upwards at the proximal joint (the
joint closest to the foot) and down at the distal joint (the one farthest away from the foot). The resulting unnatural bend is often compared to an upside down "V" and also to a hammer or a claw (The
condition is sometimes referred to as clawtoe or clawfoot). A similar condition, in which the first joint of a toe simply bends downward, is called mallet toe. Since the arched bending of hammertoe
often causes the toe to rub against the top of the shoe's toe box and against the sole, painful corns and calluses develop on the toes. Hammertoe can also be a result of squeezing within a too-small
or ill-fitting shoe or wearing high heels that jam your toes into a tight toe box inside your shoe, arthritis, trauma and muscle and nerve damage from diseases such as diabetes. Probably because of
the tight-shoe and high-heel shoe factors, hammertoe tends to occur far more often in women than in men.
Some causes of hammertoe are shoes Hammer toe
that are too tight or short, shoes with high heels, injury, Diseases that affect the nerves
and muscles, such as arthritis and diabetes. When shoes do not fit well, over time the pressure of the shoes pushes the toes into a bent position. After a while, the muscles become unable to
straighten the toe, even when you are not wearing shoes. Similarly, when there is damage or disease of the nerves or muscles in the toes, the toe may rest in the bent position until the tendons
become permanently shortened and the toe becomes a rigid hammertoe. The risk of developing a hammertoe increases with age. Women are much more likely to develop a hammertoe than men.
Common symptoms of hammertoes include pain or irritation of the affected toe when wearing shoes. corns and calluses (a buildup of skin) on the toe, between two toes, or on the ball of the foot. Corns
are caused by constant friction against the shoe. They may be soft or hard, depending upon their location. Inflammation, redness, or a burning sensation. Contracture of the toe. In more severe cases
of hammertoe, open sores may form.
Although hammertoes are readily apparent, to arrive at a diagnosis the foot and ankle surgeon will obtain a thorough history of your symptoms and examine your foot. During the physical examination,
the doctor may attempt to reproduce your symptoms by manipulating your foot and will study the contractures of the toes. In addition, the foot and ankle surgeon may take x-rays to determine the
degree of the deformities and assess any changes that may have occurred.
Non Surgical Treatment
Podiatric Care may include using anti-inflammatory oral medications or an injection of medication and local anesthetic to reduce this swelling. When you go to your doctor, x-rays are usually required
to evaluate the structure of your foot, check for fractures and determine the cause. The podiatrist may see you to take care of any corns that develop due to the bone deformities. They may advise you
on different shoewear or prescribe a custom made orthotic to try and control the foot structure. Padding techniques may be used to straighten the toe if the deformity is flexible, or pads may be used
to lessen the pressure on the area of the corn or ulcer. Your podiatric physician may also recommend a surgical procedure to actually fix the structural problem of your foot.
Laser surgery is popular for cosmetic procedures, however, for hammer toe surgery it does not offer any advantage to traditional methods. Laser is useful for soft tissues (not bone), and because
hammer toe surgery involves bone procedures, it is not effective. For cosmetic hammer toe surgery, patients should look for surgeons experienced in aesthetic foot surgery.
In addition to wearing proper shoes and socks, walking often and properly can prevent foot injury and pain. The head should be erect, the back straight, and the arms relaxed and swinging freely at
the side. Step out on the heel, move forward with the weight on the outside of the foot, and complete the step by pushing off the big toe. Exercises specifically for the toe and feet are easy to
perform and help strengthen them and keep them flexible. Helpful exercises include the following. Raise and curl the toes 10 times, holding each position for a count of five. Put a rubber band around
both big toes and pull the feet away from each other. Count to five. Repeat 10 times. Pick up a towel with the toes. Repeat five times. Pump the foot up and down to stretch the calf and shin muscles.
Perform for 2 or 3 minutes.