Many disorders can affect the joints in the toes, causing pain and preventing the foot from functioning as it should. A Hammer toe
occurs when the joint at the end of the toe cannot straighten. Excessive hammertoes
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.
A hammer toe develops because of 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 hammer toe. Arthritis is another factor, because the balance around the toe in people with arthritis is disrupted. Wearing shoes that are too
tight and cause the toes to squeeze can also cause a hammer toe to form.
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.
Some questions your doctor may ask of you include, when did you first begin having foot problems? How much pain are your feet or toes causing you? Where is the pain located? What, if anything, seems
to improve your symptoms? What, if anything, appears to worsen your symptoms? What kind of shoes do you normally wear? Your doctor can diagnose hammertoe or mallet toe by examining your foot. Your
doctor may also order X-rays to further evaluate the bones and joints of your feet and toes.
Non Surgical Treatment
If the toes are still mobile enough that they are able to stretch out and lay flat, the doctor will likely suggest a change of footwear. In addition, she may choose to treat the pain that may result
from the condition. The doctor may prescribe pads to ease the pain of any corns and calluses, and medications ranging from ibuprofen to steroid injections for the inflammation and pain. Other options
for non-surgical treatments include orthotic devices to help with the tendon and muscle imbalance or splinting to help realign the toe. Splinting devices come in a variety of shapes and sizes but the
purpose of each is the same: to stretch the muscles and tendon and flatten the joint to remove the pain and pressure that comes from corns.
Surgical Options: Several surgical procedures are available to the podiatric physician. For less severe deformities, the surgery will remove the bony prominence and restore normal alignment of the
toe joint, thus relieving pain. Severe hammer toes, which are not fully reducible, may require more complex surgical procedures. Recuperation takes time, and some swelling and discomfort are common
for several weeks following surgery. Any pain, however, is easily managed with medications prescribed by your podiatrist.