is foot deformity that typically affects hammertoe
second, third or fourth toes. The condition is called hammertoe because of the
unnatural position your toes form. Hammertoe causes your toe to bend upward at the middle joint in a way that looks similar to a hammer. While it may not be painful at first, this condition usually
worsens with time and it becomes difficult to extend your toes. Sometimes, calluses or corns form in association with hammertoe.
Hammer toe is often caused by wearing shoes that do not fit properly. If shoes are too small either in length or width, then the toes are held in a shortened position for long periods and the muscles
eventually shorten and pull the toes into the bent position. Alternatively it can be caused by overactivity in the extensor digitorum dongus muscle (right) and a weakness in the counteracting muscle
under the foot, such as flexor digitorum longus. Sometimes it can be a congenital condition, meaning it is present from birth. It is also more common in those with arthritis in the foot or
The symptoms of hammertoe are progressive, meaning that they get worse over time. Hammertoe causes the middle joint on the second, third, fourth, or fifth toes to bend. The affected toe may be
painful or irritated, especially when you wear shoes. Areas of thickened skin (corns) may develop between, on top of, or at the end of your toes. Thickened skin (calluses) may also appear on the
bottom of your toe or the ball of your foot. It may be difficult to find a pair of shoes that is comfortable to wear.
A hammertoe is usually diagnosed with a physical inspection of your toe. Imaging tests, such as X-rays, may be ordered if you have had a bone, muscle, or ligament injury in your toe.
Non Surgical Treatment
Conservative treatment is the first choice, often starting with a change of shoes to ones that have soft, larger toe spaces. Toe exercises may be prescribed to stretch and strengthen the toe muscles.
Over-the-counter straps, cushions or non-medicated corn pads may be recommended to help relieve your symptoms.
A variety of anaesthetic techniques are possible. Be sure an discuss this with your surgeon during your pre-op assessment. The type of surgery performed will depend on the problem with your toes and
may involve releasing or lengthening tendons, putting joints back into place, straightening a toe and changing the shape of a bone.Your surgeon may fix the toes in place with wires or tiny
The best treatment is good prevention! Hammertoe can be prevented by wearing shoes with ample toe room, avoiding high heels, and wearing adjustable shoes to assure a looser fit. When buying shoes,
shop at the end of the day when your feet are swollen from daily activity, try both shoes on to confirm they fit properly, and if necessary, visit a shoe repair store to see if they can stretch your
shoes for a better fit.