A Hammer toes
occurs from a muscle and ligament imbalance around the toe joint which causes the middle joint of the
toe to bend and become stuck in this position. The most common complaint with hammertoes is rubbing and irritation on the top of the bent toe. Toes that may curl rather than buckle, most commonly the
baby toe, are also considered hammertoes. It can happen to any toe. Women are more likely to get pain associated with hammertoes than men because of shoe gear. Hammertoes can be a serious problem in
people with diabetes or poor circulation. People with these conditions should see a doctor at the first sign of foot trouble.
Hammer toe 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 cannot stretch out. Some other causes are diabetes, arthritis, neuromuscular disease, polio or trauma.
A hammertoe may be present but not always painful unless irritated by shoes. One may have enlarged toe joints with some thickened skin and no redness or swelling. However, if shoes create pressure on
the joint, the pain will usually range from pinching and squeezing to sharp and Hammer toe
burning. In long standing conditions, the dislocated joints
can cause the pain of arthritis.
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
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.
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.