A Hammer toe
is a toe that becomes permanently bent in the middle so that the end of the toe points downward. The portion of the
toe before the joint where the bend occurs tends to arch upward. A hammer toe takes years to develop. Once the toe becomes permanently bent, corns or calluses may form. Treatment helps control
symptoms in many people, but surgery is sometimes needed to straighten the toe.
Hereditary and shoe gear are probably the most likely reasons to develop a hammer toe. Tight pointy shoes may cause a hammer toes. High heels also can cause hammer toes. A deformed toe often develops
over time, and certain types of feet may be predisposed. Some patients may develop a hammer toe or cross over toe (of the 2nd toe) due to a bunion of the big toe.
Well-developed hammertoes are distinctive due to the abnormal bent shape of the toe. However, there are many other common symptoms. Some symptoms may be present before the toe becomes overly bent or
fixed in the contracted position. Often, before the toe becomes permanently contracted, there will be pain or irritation over the top of the toe, particularly over the joint. The symptoms are
pronounced while wearing shoes due to the top of the toe rubbing against the upper portion of the shoe. Often, there is a significant amount of friction between the toe and the shoe or between the
toe and the toes on either side of it. The corns may be soft or hard, depending on their location and age. The affected toe may also appear red with irritated skin. In more severe cases, blisters or
open sores may form. Those with diabetes should take extra care if they develop any of these symptoms, as they could lead to further complications.
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 If the deformed toe is very painful, your doctor may recommend that you have a fluid sample withdrawn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
There are many non-surgical treatments to help relieve symptoms of hammertoe. The first step for many people is wearing the right size and type of shoe. Low-heeled shoes with a boxy or roomy toe area
are helpful. Cushioned insoles, customized orthopedic inserts, and pads can provided relief as well. Splints or straps may be used to help correct toe position. Your doctor may show you toe stretches
and exercises to perform. Your doctor can safely remove corns and calluses. You should not try to remove them at home.
Surgery may be the treatment of choice if conservative approaches prove unsuccessful. Usually performed as an outpatient procedure, the specific surgery will depend on the type and extent of injury
to Hammer toe
the toe. Recovery my take several days or weeks and you may experience some
redness, stiffness and swelling of the affected toe. Your physician will recommend taking it easy and to keep your foot elevated while you recover.