a bending and hardening of the joints of the second, third, fourth, or fifth
toes. If you look down at your feet and you can?t see the tips of the Hammer toe
toenails, you might suffer from hammertoe. Early signs of hammertoe are a bend in the joint of any toe except the big toe. The bend in the joint causes the top of the toe to appear to curl under as
if it?s ?hammering? into the floor.
A hammertoe is formed due an abnormal balance of the muscles in the toes. This abnormal balance causes increased pressures on the tendons and joints of the toe, leading to its contracture. Heredity
and trauma can also lead to the formation of a hammertoe. Arthritis is another factor, because the balance around the toe in people with arthritis is so disrupted that a hammertoe may develop.
Wearing shoes that are too tight and cause the toes to squeeze can also be a cause for a hammertoe to form.
At first, a hammertoe or mallet toe may maintain its flexibility and lie flat when you're not wearing crowded footwear. But eventually, the tendons of the toe may contract and tighten, causing your
toe to become permanently stiff. Your shoes can rub against the raised portion of the toe or toes, causing painful corns or calluses.
Although hammertoes are readily apparent, to arrive at a diagnosis the foot and ankle surgeon will obtain a thorough history of your symptoms and examine your foot. During the physical examination,
the doctor may attempt to reproduce your symptoms by manipulating your foot and will study the contractures of the toes. In addition, the foot and ankle surgeon may take x-rays to determine the
degree of the deformities and assess any changes that may have occurred.
Non Surgical Treatment
Your podiatrist may recommend one or more of these treatments to manage your hammer toes. Wear shoes with roomy toe boxes which don?t force your toes together. Exercises to stretch and strengthen
muscles in the toes. Over the counter toe straps, cushions, and corn pads. Custom orthotic inserts. Toe caps or toe slings. In severe cases, surgery to release the muscles in the affected toes.
Extreme occurrences of hammer toe may call for surgery. Your surgeon will decide which form of surgery will best suit your case. Often, the surgeon may have to cut or remove a tendon or ligament.
Depending on the severity of your condition, the bones on both sides of the joint afflicted may need to be fused together. The good news is you can probably have your surgery and be released to go
home in one day. You will probably experience some stiffness in your toe, but it might last for a short period, then your long-term pain will be eliminated.