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 constant pressure a woman's foot receives in high-heeled shoes due to the force of gravity causes their feet to naturally slide down and press on the lowest point of the shoe so they are not able
to receive enough space and stretch out. The result is an eventual distortion of the woman's toes. The deformity comes as a result of the shortening of muscles inside the toes because the toes become
used to being in a bent position, prompting the muscles to fail to extend any further and become tightened and curbed. At first, toes may still be stretched out if poor footwear is not being worn,
yet if the habit is persistent...the person's toes will eventually become used to the position they are constantly in and muscle fibers inside them will harden and refuse to stretch.
Some people never have troubles with hammer toes. In fact, some people don't even know they have them. They can become uncomfortable, especially while wearing shoes. Many people who develop symptoms
with hammer toes will develop corns, blisters and pain on the top of the toe, where it rubs against the shoe or between the toes, where it rubs against the adjacent toe. You can also develop calluses
on the balls of the feet, as well as cramping, aching and an overall fatigue in the foot and leg.
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
Wear wide shoes with plenty of room in the toes and resilient soles. Avoid wearing shoes with pointed toes. Commercially available felt pads or cushions may ease pressure from the shoe on the toe.
Toe caps (small, padded sleeves that fit around the tip of the toe) may relieve the pain of hammer toe. Do toe exercises, to help toe muscles become stronger and more flexible.
Arch supports or an orthotic shoe insert prescribed by your doctor or podiatrist may help to redistribute weight on the foot. These devices do not cure the problem but may ease the symptoms of either
hammer toe or mallet toe.
Surgery to correct for a hammertoe may be performed as a day procedure. There are several different types of procedures that can be used depending on the foot structure and if the deformity is
flexible or rigid.
The best ways to prevent a hammertoe are. Wear shoes that fit well. Shoes should be one-half inch longer than your longest toe. Shoes should be wide enough and the toe box should be high enough to
give the foot room to move. Don?t wear shoes with heels over 2 inches high. If a toe starts to look like a hammertoe, buy shoes that have an extra high toe box. Wear corn pad removers or cushion pads
on top of the affected toe. See your healthcare provider any time you have foot pain that does not go away quickly or is more than mild pain. Foot pain is not normal.