is the result of deformed toe joints, tight tendons that attach to the toe, and misaligned toe
bones. The usual appearance of a hammertoe is a toe bent upward at the middle toe joint, so that the top of this joint rubs against the top of the shoe. The remainder of the toe is bent downward so
that, instead of the entire toe bearing weight, only the tip of the toe bears weight. Pain can occur on the top of the toe, the tip of the toe, or in both areas.
While ill-fitting shoes may contribute to a hammertoe, shoes don't actually cause it, Hammertoes occur by the pull and stretch of the tendon. One tendon gets a more mechanical advantage over the
other and allows the deformity to occur. Not surprisingly, wearing shoes that are too tight can make a hammertoe worse. If you're fond of narrow, pointy-toed shoes or high-heeled pumps, keep in mind
you're squeezing those toes and tendons, which may aggravate hammertoes.
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 Hammer toe
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.
Your doctor is very likely to be able to diagnose your hammertoe simply by examining your foot. Even before that, he or she will probably ask about your family and personal medical history and
evaluate your gait as you walk and the types of shoes you wear. You'll be asked about your symptoms, when they started and when they occur. You may also be asked to flex your toe so that your doctor
can get an idea of your range of motion. He or she may order x-rays in order to better define your deformity.
Non Surgical Treatment
There are several treatment options. These are based on how severe the problem has become. The sooner a person seeks treatment, the more options that person may have. Wear properly fitting shoes;
this does not necessarily mean expensive shoes. Padding any prominent areas around the bony point of the toe may help to relieve pain. Medication that reduces inflammation can ease the pain and
swelling. Sometimes a doctor will use cortisone injections to relieve acute pain. A podiatrist may also custom-make an insert to wear inside your shoe. This can reduce pain and keep the hammer toe
from getting worse. Your doctor may recommend foot exercises to help restore muscle balance. Splinting the toe may help in the very early stages.
Until recently, wires were used for surgical correction. In this technique, one or more wires are inserted into the bone through both the affected joint and a normally healthy toe joint, and the end
of the toe. These wires stay in place for four to six weeks, protruding from the end of the toes. Due to the protruding wire, simple things such working, driving, bathing and even sleeping are
difficult while these wires are in place. During this recovery period, patients often experience discomfort during sleep and are subject possible infection.
Early Development. The first year of life is important for foot development. Parents should cover their babies' feet loosely, allowing plenty of opportunity for kicking and exercise. Change the
child's position frequently. Children generally start to walk at 10 - 18 months. They should not be forced to start walking early. Wearing just socks or going barefoot indoors helps the foot develop
normally and strongly and allows the toes to grasp. Going barefoot outside, however, increases the risk for injury and other conditions, such as plantar warts. Children should wear shoes that are
light and flexible, and since their feet tend to perspire, their shoes should be made of materials that breathe. Replace footwear every few months as the child's feet grow. Footwear should never be
handed down. Protect children's feet if they participate in high-impact sports.