is a deformity of the toe in which the toe bends downward at the middle joint, causing it to
resemble a hammer. Hammertoes usually begin as mild problems, but over time they can develop into severe cases. Hammertoes are often flexible during the initial stages, and if treatment is
administered promptly, symptoms can be managed with non-surgical methods. But if time passes and you do not seek treatment, your hammertoe will become more rigid, and surgical treatment may be
It is possible to be born with a hammer toe, however many people develop the deformity later in life. Common causes include tightened tendons that cause the toe to curl downward. Nerve injuries or
problems with the spinal cord. Stubbing, jamming or breaking a toe. Having a stroke. Being a diabetic. Having a second toe that is longer than the big toe. Wearing high heels or tight shoes that
crowd the toes and don?t allow them to lie flat. Aging.
The symptoms of a hammer toe include the following. Pain at the top of the bent toe upon pressure from footwear. 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.
The treatment options vary with the type and severity of each hammer toe, although identifying the deformity early in its development is important to avoid surgery. Your podiatric physician will
examine and X-ray the affected area and recommend a treatment plan specific to your condition.
Non Surgical Treatment
The most common treatment is to wear more comfortable shoes. When choosing a shoe, make sure the toe area is high and broad and has enough room for hammer toes. If there is chronic pain, surgery may
be needed to correct a malalignment. Surgical treatments are aimed at loosening up the contracted toe joints to allow them to align properly. Other types of treatment are products designed to relieve
hammer toes, such as hammer toe crests and hammer toe splints. These devices will help hold down the hammer toe and provide relief to the forefoot. Gel toe shields and gel toe caps can also be used.
Gel toe shields and toe caps will help eliminate friction between the shoe and the toe, while providing comfort and lubrication.
Sometimes, if the deformity is severe enough or surgical modification is needed, the toe bones may be fused so that the toe does not bend. Buried wires are used to allow for the fusion to heal, and
they remain in place after healing. Your skin is closed with fine sutures, which are typically removed seven to ten days after surgery. A dressing is used to help keep your toes in their new
position. Dressings should not get wet or be removed. After surgery, your doctor may prescribe pain relievers, typically for the initial four to seven days. Most people heal completely within one
month of surgery, with few complications, if any. Crutches or a cane may be needed to help you keep weight off your affected foot, depending on the procedure. Occasionally, patients receive a special
post-op shoe or a walking boot that is to be worn during the healing process. Most people are able to shower normally after surgery, but must protect the dressing from getting wet. Many patients are
allowed to resume driving within one week after the procedure, but care needs to be taken.
The best treatment is good prevention! Hammertoe can be prevented by wearing shoes with hammertoe
ample toe room, avoiding high
heels, and wearing adjustable shoes to assure a looser fit. When buying shoes, shop at the end of the day when your feet are swollen from daily activity, try both shoes on to confirm they fit
properly, and if necessary, visit a shoe repair store to see if they can stretch your shoes for a better fit.