The term, hammertoes
is used to describe the collective physical deformity of the second, third and fourth toe on a person's foot when
they are permanently bent at one or two of their joints, often times at their middle joints or, 'proximal interphalangeal,' joints. The condition is also referred to as, 'contracted toes,' and earned
its name for the resulting bowed appearance of the toes that made them appear similar to hammers. The distortion of the usual contour of the person's toes is usually a result of wearing shoes that
are too short or narrow and apply consistent pressure to the toes, forcing them to be pushed together and lie obliquely. The situation is particularly true in the case of shoes that are designed to
narrow towards the toe box.
Most hammertoes are caused by wearing ill-fitting, tight or high-heeled shoes over a long period of time. Shoes that don't fit well can crowd the toes, putting pressure on the middle toes and causing
them to curl downward. The condition may be more likely when the second toe is longer than the first toe or when the arch of the foot is flat. Hammertoe can also be present at birth (congenital).
Hammertoe also can be caused by a bunion, which is the knobby bump that sometimes develops at the side of the big toe. A bunion causes the big toe to bend toward the other toes. The big toe can then
overlap and crowd the smaller toes. Occasionally, a hammertoe is inherited or caused by arthritis in the toe joint.
If you have any of these symptoms, do not assume it is due to hammer toe. Talk to your doctor about symptoms such as a toe that curls down, corns on the top of a toe, calluses on the sole of the foot
or bottom of the toe, pain in the middle joint of a toe, discomfort on the top of a toe, difficulty Hammer toe
any shoes that fit comfortably, cramping in a toe, and sometimes also the foot and leg, difficult or painful motion of a toe joint, pain in the ball of the foot or at the base of a toe.
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
You can usually use over-the-counter cushions, pads, or medications to treat bunions and corns. However, if they are painful or if they have caused your toes to become deformed, your doctor may opt
to surgically remove them. If you have blisters on your toes, do not pop them. Popping blisters can cause pain and infection. Use over-the-counter creams and cushions to relieve pain and keep
blisters from rubbing against the inside of your shoes. Gently stretching your toes can also help relieve pain and reposition the affected toe.
Toes can be surgically realigned and made straight again. They can even be made shorter. The good news is that toes can be corrected. Hammer toe surgery is often synonymous with ?toe shortening?,
?toe job? and/or ?toe augmentation?. Depending on the severity and length of the toe, there are several methods to surgically correct a hammer toe. In general, the surgery involves removing a portion
of the bone at the contracted joint, to realign the toe.