There are two types of hammertoes
, Flexible hammertoes. If the toe still can be moved at the joint, it's a flexible
hammertoe. That's good, because this is an earlier, milder form of the problem. There may be several treatment options. Rigid hammertoes. If the tendons in the toe become rigid, they press the joint
out of alignment. At this stage, the toe can't be moved. It usually means that surgery is needed.
Hammertoe is caused when muscles fail to work in a balanced manner and the toe joints bend to form the hammertoe shape. If they remain in this position, the muscles and tendons supporting them
tighten and stay that way. Causes of hammertoe can include squeezing into a too-small or ill-fitting shoe or wearing high heels that jam your toes into a tight toe box. An injury such as badly
stubbing your toe. Arthritis. Nerve and muscle damage from diseases such as diabetes,
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.
Although hammertoes are readily apparent, to arrive at a diagnosis the foot and ankle surgeon will obtain a thorough history of your symptoms and examine your foot. During the physical examination,
the doctor may attempt to reproduce your symptoms by manipulating your foot and will study the contractures of the toes. In addition, the foot and ankle surgeon may take x-rays to determine the
degree of the deformities and assess any changes that may have occurred.
Non Surgical Treatment
Early on, when a hammertoe first starts and is still flexible, here are some ways it might be treated. Your healthcare provider may splint or tape the toe into the correct, normal position. You can
use your fingers to stretch your toes and toe joints toward a more normal position. Exercise your toes by trying to pick up marbles with them or by wadding up a towel Hammer toe
on the floor with your toes. Padding may be used to change where your weight falls
when you walk on the foot.
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.
In addition to wearing proper shoes and socks, walking often and properly can prevent foot injury and pain. The head should be erect, the back straight, and the arms relaxed and swinging freely at
the side. Step out on the heel, move forward with the weight on the outside of the foot, and complete the step by pushing off the big toe. Exercises specifically for the toe and feet are easy to
perform and help strengthen them and keep them flexible. Helpful exercises include the following. Raise and curl the toes 10 times, holding each position for a count of five. Put a rubber band around
both big toes and pull the feet away from each other. Count to five. Repeat 10 times. Pick up a towel with the toes. Repeat five times. Pump the foot up and down to stretch the calf and shin muscles.
Perform for 2 or 3 minutes.