is a toe that tends to remain bent at the middle joint in a claw-like position. There are 2 types of hammer toe.
Flexible hammer toe, can be straightened by hand. Rigid hammer toe, cannot be pulled straight and can be extremely painful. The position of the toe can also lead to corns or calluses. These may also
be painful. Hammer toe may be present at birth or develop later in life due to tendons that have tightened, causing the toe's joints to curl downward. Occasionally, all toes may be bent. This may be
due to problems with the peripheral nerves or the spinal cord.
Hammertoes are more commonly seen in women than men, due to the shoe styles women frequently wear: shoes with tight toe boxes and high heels. Genetics plays a role in some cases of hammertoes, as
does trauma, infection, arthritis, and certain neurological and muscle disorders. But most cases of contracted toes are associated with various biomechanical abnormalities of the feet, such as flat
feet and feet with abnormally high arches. These biomechanical abnormalities cause the muscles and tendons to be used excessively or improperly, which deforms the toes over time.
Hammer, claw, and mallet toes can cause discomfort and pain and may make it hard to walk. Shoes may rub on your toes, causing pain, blisters, calluses or corns, or sores. Sores can become infected
and lead to cellulitis or osteomyelitis, especially if you have diabetes or peripheral arterial disease. If you have one of these health problems and sores develop, contact your doctor.
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. If the deformed toe is very painful, your doctor may recommend that you have a fluid sample withdrawn
from the joint with a needle so the fluid can be checked for signs of infection or gout (arthritis from crystal deposits).
Non Surgical Treatment
A number of approaches can be undertaken to the manage a hammer toe. It is important that any footwear advice is followed. The correct amount of space in the toe box will allow room for the toes to
function without excessive pressure. If a corn is present, this will need to be treated. If the toe is still flexible, it may be possible to use splints or tape to try and correct the toe. Without
correct fitting footwear, this is often unsuccessful. Padding is often used to get pressure off the toe to help the Hammer toes
symptoms. If conservative treatment is unsuccessful at helping the symptoms, surgery is often
a good option.
Surgical correction is needed to bring the toe into a corrected position and increase its function. Correction of the hammer toes is a simple outpatient surgery, with limited downtime. The best
option is to fuse the deformed and contracted toe into a straight position. This limits the need for future surgery and deformity return. A new pin that absorbs in the bone or small screw is used by
the Foot and Ankle Institute to avoid the need for a metal pin protruding from the toe during recovery. Although the absorbable pin is not for everyone, it is much more comfortable than the pin
protruding from the end of the toe. In certain cases, a removal of a small area of bone in the deformity area will decrease pain and limit the need for a surgical waiting period that is found with
fusions. Although the toe is not as stable as with a fusion, in certain cases, an arthroplasty is the best option.
The best ways to prevent a hammertoe are. Wear shoes that fit well. Shoes should be one-half inch longer than your longest toe. Shoes should be wide enough and the toe box should be high enough to
give the foot room to move. Don?t wear shoes with heels over 2 inches high. If a toe starts to look like a hammertoe, buy shoes that have an extra high toe box. Wear corn pad removers or cushion pads
on top of the affected toe. See your healthcare provider any time you have foot pain that does not go away quickly or is more than mild pain. Foot pain is not normal.