Hammer toes can result in pain and difficulty in moving the toe. Corns, calluses and blisters can occur from the rubbing of the contracted toe against the inside of the footwear. Both Hammer toes
and mallet toe can cause pain during walking, running and other activities. If left
untreated, the tendons of the toe may contract and tighten, causing the toe to become permanently stiff and contracted. A podiatric physician or surgeon may have to cut or realign tendons and/or
remove pieces of bone to straighten the toe. This may require that the bones be fixed temporarily with pins while the toe heals.
As described above, the main reason people develop hammertoes is improper footwear, or footwear that is too short for the toes. Shoes that do not allow our toes to lie flat are the biggest cause of
hammertoes, though there are others, including genetics, injury or trauma in which the toe is jammed or broken. Diseases that affect the nerves and muscles, such as arthritis. Abnormal foot mechanics
due to nerve or muscle damage, causing an imbalance of the flexor and extensor tendons of the toe. Systematic diseases such as arthritis can also lead to problems such as hammertoe. Some people are
born with hammertoes, while others are more prone to developing the condition due to genetics. If you have ever broken a toe, you know there is not much that can be done for it. It is one of the only
bones in the body that heals without the use of a cast. A broken toe may be splinted, however, which may help prevent a hammertoe from forming.
A hammertoe causes you discomfort when you walk. It can also cause you pain when trying to stretch or move the affected toe or those around it. Hammertoe symptoms may be mild or severe. Mild
Symptoms, a toe that is bent downward, corns or calluses. Severe Symptoms, difficulty walking, the inability to flex your foot or wiggle your toes, claw-like toes. See your doctor or podiatrist right
away if you develop any of these symptoms.
Some questions your doctor may ask of you include, when did you first begin having foot problems? How much pain are your feet or toes causing you? Where is the pain located? What, if anything, seems
to improve your symptoms? What, if anything, appears to worsen your symptoms? What kind of shoes do you normally wear? Your doctor can diagnose hammertoe or mallet toe by examining your foot. Your
doctor may also order X-rays to further evaluate the bones and joints of your feet and toes.
Non Surgical Treatment
People with a hammer toe benefit from wearing shoes in which the toe box is made of a flexible material and is wide enough and high enough to provide adequate room for the toes. High-heeled shoes
should be avoided, because they tend to force the toes into a narrow, flat toe box. A doctor may recommend an insert (orthotic) for the shoe to help reduce friction and pressure on the hammer toe.
Wearing properly fitted shoes may reduce pain and inflammation. It may also prevent ulcers from developing and help existing ulcers heal. However, the hammer toe does not disappear.
Hammer toe can be corrected by surgery if conservative measures fail. Usually, surgery is done on an outpatient basis hammertoes
with a local anesthetic. The actual procedure will depend on the type and extent of the
deformity. After the surgery, there may be some stiffness, swelling and redness and the toe may be slightly longer or shorter than before. You will be able to walk, but should not plan any long hikes
while the toe heals, and should keep your foot elevated as much as possible.