A Hammer toes
is a term used to describe a crooked, deviated, or contracted toe. Although the
condition usually stems from muscle imbalance, it is often aggravated by poor-fitting shoes or socks that cramp the toes. Over a period of years, the tendons that move the toe up and down begin to
pull the toe with unequal tension, and the toe then begins to buckle or become contracted, causing an abnormal ?v?-shaped bending of the little toes. Patients with this condition often experience
pain, swelling, redness and stiffness in the affected toes.
The most common cause of hammertoe is a muscle/tendon imbalance. This imbalance, which leads to a bending of the toe, results from Hammer toes
mechanical (structural) changes in the foot that occur over time in some people.
Hammertoes may be aggravated by shoes that don?t fit properly. A hammertoe may result if a toe is too long and is forced into a cramped position when a tight shoe is worn. Occasionally, hammertoe is
the result of an earlier trauma to the toe. In some people, hammertoes are inherited.
The middle joint of the toe is bent. The end part of the toe bends down into a claw-like deformity. At first, you may be able to move and straighten the toe. Over time, you will no longer be able to
move the toe. It will be painful. A corn often forms on the top of the toe. A callus is found on the sole of the foot. Walking or wearing shoes can be painful.
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
Many people start by treating the problem themselves when they have a painful corn or callus. They try to remove the corn by cutting it off or by applying strong acids, and they try to cushion the
toe by applying cushioned pads. Because these treatments can be difficult to perform by oneself (and should never be done by oneself when the patient is diabetic or circulation is poor), and because
these treatments only treat the symptom, not the structural deformity that causes their symptom, these treatments can often provide only limited success, and often any success is for only short
periods of time. Changes in shoe choices and various types of paddings and other appliances may help, too. For longer-lasting help, we must examine the cause of the deformity. The reason for knowing
the cause is that the type of treatment will vary, depending upon the cause of the complaint. Orthotics help control the causes of certain types of contracted toes, (those caused by flexor
stabilization, for example), but not other types.
he basis for hammer toe surgery most often involves removing s portion of bone within the toe, to reduce the joint contracture. Depending on the direction the toe is deviated, soft tissue procedures
may be necessary along with pinning the toe with a surgical wire.