most commonly affects the second toe on the foot. It causes the middle joint to bend. Hammertoe is most
frequently caused by structural problems in the toe or from wearing poor fitting shoes. It is important to diagnose and treat hammertoe early because the condition tends to become worse over time. If
left untreated, hammertoe can require surgery.
Those fashionable shoes. Women tend to cram their feet into too-narrow, ill-fitting shoes with little to no arch support. That?s why we see more hammertoes in women than men. Pointy, high-heeled
shoes put severe pressure on the toes and their joints, and they typically have little to no arch support. Neuromuscular diseases can contribute to the development of hammertoe, too. People with
diabetes can be at increased risk for complications from a hammertoe. In diabetics, if a toe has a corn or other ulceration, it indicates there is too much pressure on the toes. In those with poor
blood flow or neuropathy, these lesions can get infected and lead to the loss of a toe or foot unless shoes are modified.
The symptoms of hammertoe are progressive, meaning that they get worse over time. Hammertoe causes the middle joint on the second, third, fourth, or fifth toes to bend. The affected toe may be
painful or irritated, especially when you wear shoes. Areas of thickened skin (corns) may develop between, on top of, or at the end of your toes. Thickened skin (calluses) may also appear on the
bottom of your toe or the ball of your foot. It may be difficult to find a pair of shoes that is comfortable to wear.
The treatment options vary with the type and severity of each hammer toe, although identifying the deformity early in its development is important to avoid surgery. Your podiatric physician will
examine and X-ray the affected area and recommend a treatment plan specific to your condition.
Non Surgical Treatment
If your toe is still flexible, your doctor may recommend that you change to roomier and more comfortable footwear and that you wear shoe inserts (orthotics) or pads. Wearing inserts or pads can
reposition your toe and relieve pressure and pain. In addition, your doctor may suggest exercises to stretch and strengthen your toe hammertoes
muscles. These may include picking up marbles or a thin towel off the floor with your toes.
The technique the surgeon applies during the surgery depends on how much flexibility the person's affected toes still retain. If some flexibility has still been preserved in their affected toes, the
hammer toes might be corrected through making a small incision into the toe so the surgeon can manipulate the tendon that is forcing the person's toes into a curved position. If, however, the
person's toes have become completely rigid, the surgeon might have to do more than re-aligning the person's tendons. Some pieces of bone may have to be removed so the person's toe has the ability to
straighten out. If this is the case, some pins are attached onto the person's foot afterwards to fix their bones into place while the injured tissue heals. Following the surgical procedure, the
person might have to deal with some stiffness and swelling as they pursue their recovery process. The person should also expect the toes that have been corrected to appear different following the
surgery. For example; the person's toes may appear longer or shorter than they were before. The person will be advised not to pursue too much physical activity that involves their feet for some time
to give their injury from surgery enough time to heal properly.
It?s important to understand that preventing hammertoe can sometimes be difficult, since most symptoms do not appear until the condition is well developed. Nonetheless, here are some tips to help you
prevent hammertoe. Do not wear shoes that are too narrow or short. Check your children?s shoe size often to ensure that their shoes still fit correctly. Wear comfortable shoes that fit you properly.
Remember that your feet widen and lengthen with age.