Many disorders can affect the joints in the toes, causing pain and preventing the foot from functioning as it should. A Hammer
occurs when the joint at the end of the toe cannot straighten. Excessive rubbing of the hammer toe against the top of the shoe can lead to pain and the development of a corn. The tip of the
toe is often turned down against the shoe causing pressure and discomfort.
Essentially, hammertoes are caused by an abnormal interworking of the bones, muscles, ligaments and tendons that comprise your feet. When muscles fail to work in a balanced manner, the toe joints can
bend to form the hammertoe shape. If they remain in this position for an extended period, the muscles and tendons supporting them tighten and remain in that position. A common factor in development
of hammertoe is wearing shoes that squeeze the toes or high heels that jam the toes into the front of the shoe. Most likely due to these factors, hammertoe occurs much more frequently in women than
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.
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
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 symptoms. If conservative treatment is unsuccessful at helping the symptoms, surgery is often a good option.
If a person's toes have become very inflexible and unresponsive to non-invasive means of treatment and if open sores have developed as a result of constant friction, they may receive orthopaedic
surgery to correct the deformity. The operation is quick and is commonly performed as an out-patient procedure. The doctor administers a local anesthetic into the person's foot to numb the site of
the operation. The person may remain conscious as the surgeon performs the procedure. A sedative might also be administered to help calm the person if they are too anxious.
You can avoid many foot, heel and ankle problems with shoes that fit properly. See your doctor if you have foot pain that's persistent and that affects your ability to walk properly and carry out
other motions with your foot. Also, see your doctor if one or more of your toes has developed a clenched or claw-like appearance.