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 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.
Hammer toe most frequently results from wearing poorly fitting shoes that can force the toe into a bent position, such as excessively high heels or shoes that are too short or narrow for the foot.
Having the toes bent for long periods of time can cause the muscles in them to shorten, resulting in the hammer toe deformity. This is often found in conjunction with bunions or other foot problem
(e.g., a bunion can force the big toe to turn inward and push the other toes). It can also be caused by muscle, nerve, or joint damage resulting from conditions such as osteoarthritis, rheumatoid
arthritis, stroke, Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease, complex regional pain syndrome or diabetes. Hammer toe can also be found in Friedreich's ataxia.
Common reasons patients seek treatment for toe problems are toe pain on the knuckle. Thick toe calluses. Interference with walking/activities. Difficulty fitting shoes. Worsening toe deformity. Pain
at the ball of the foot. Unsightly appearance. Toe deformities (contractures) come in varying degrees of severity, from slight to severe. The can be present in conjunction with a bunion, and develop
onto a severe disfiguring foot deformity. Advanced cases, the toe can dislocate on top of the foot. Depending on your overall health, symptoms and severity of the hammer toe, the condition may be
treated conservatively and/or with surgery.
Hammertoes are progressive, they don?t go away by themselves and usually they will get worse over time. However, not all cases are alike, some hammertoes progress more rapidly than others. Once your
foot and ankle surgeon has evaluated your hammertoes, a treatment plan can be developed that is suited to your needs.
Non Surgical Treatment
If your hammertoe problem is diagnosed as flexible hammertoe, there are a number of nonsurgical treatments that may be able to straighten out your toe or toes and return them to their proper
alignment. Padding and Taping. Your physician may pad the boney top-part of your hammertoe as a means of relieving pain, and may tape your toes as a way to change their position, correct the muscle
imbalance and relieve the pressure that led to the hammertoe's development. Medication. Anti-inflammatory drugs such as aspirin and ibuprofen can help deal with inflammation, swelling and pain caused
by your hammertoe. Cortisone injections may be prescribed for the same purpose. If your hammertoe
hammertoe is a consequence of
arthritis, your physician may prescribe medications for that.
Hammertoe surgery is performed when conservative measures have been exhausted and pain or deformity still persists. The surgery is performed on an outpatient basis. It typically required about one
hour of time. An incision is placed over the inter-phalangeal joint. Once the bone is exposed, the end portion of the bone is removed. Your surgeon may then use pins or other fixation devices to
assist in straightening the toe. These devices may be removed at a later date if necessary. Recovery for hammertoe surgery is approximately 10 to 14 days. You are able to walk immediately following
the surgery in a surgical shoe. Swelling may be present but is managed as needed. Physical therapy is used to help reduce swelling in the toe or toes after surgery. Most of these toe surgeries can be
performed in the office or the outpatient surgery under local anesthesia.
Although these following preventative tips may be able to reverse a painful bunion or hammertoe deformity, they are more effective when applied to young people, and are less effective the longer a
person has progressed with their bunion or hammertoe deformity. This is because the joints in our bodies get used to the positions they are most frequently held in, and our feet are no different,
with our 12 to 15 hours a day in restrictive footwear, with tapering toeboxes, heel elevation, and toespring.