A Hammer toe
occurs when the joint of the toes curl down. The reason they curl abnormally is due to a
muscle imbalance which results in the tendons becoming unnaturally tight. They are due to Heredity, improper shoes, and Arthritis. There are two types of hammer toes, flexible or rigid. These
classification are based on the mobility of the toe joints. A flexible hammer toe is one with a flexible toe joint that allows it to be straightend with your finger. In time a flexible joint may turn
into a rigid hammer toe. Normally flexible hammer toes are much less painful than rigid hammer toes. A rigid hammer toe is one with a rigid toe joint, one that is not moveable with your finger. These
rigid toe joints can be very painful and limit the ability to move.
The cause of hammertoes varies, but causes include genetics, arthritis and injury to the toe. Treatment for hammertoes depends on the severity and can include anti-inflammatory medication, metatarsal
pads, foot exercises and better-fitting shoes. If the pain caused by a hammertoe is so severe that wearing a shoe is uncomfortable, surgery may be necessary. Typically this surgery is an outpatient
procedure that doesn?t require general anesthesia, though it is an option. Recovery from surgery usually takes a few weeks, and patients are given special shoes to wear.
Pain upon pressure at the top of the bent toe from footwear. The formation of corns on the top of the joint. Redness and swelling at the joint contracture. Restricted or painful motion of the toe
joint. Pain in the ball of the foot at the base of the affected toe.
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
Hammer toes may be effectively corrected in different ways. Treatments can be non-invasive and involve physical therapy along with the advice that the person not wear any more shoes that restrict
appropriate space for their toes. Appropriate shoes for people who want to avoid hammer toes, or for people who already hammertoe
them, should be at least half an inch longer than the person's longest toe. High-heeled shoes are something to definitely avoid.
Bone-mending procedures realign the contracted toe by removing the entire deviated small joints of the toe (again, not at the ball of the foot). This allows for the buckled joint to be positioned
flat and the bone ends to mend together. Often surgical hardware (fixation) is necessary to keep the bones steady during healing. Hardware options can involve a buried implant inside the toe, or a
temporary wire that is removed at a later date. Medical terminology for this procedure is called a proximal interphalangeal joint arthrodesis (fusion), or a distal interphalangeal joint arthrodesis
(fusion), with the former being performed in a high majority of cases.