is a deformity of the toe in which the toe bends downward at the middle joint,
causing it to resemble a hammer. Hammertoes usually begin as mild problems, but over time they can develop into severe cases. Hammertoes are often flexible during the initial stages, and if treatment
is administered promptly, symptoms can be managed with non-surgical methods. But if time passes and you do not seek treatment, your hammertoe will become more rigid, and surgical treatment may be
Hammertoe has three main culprits: tight shoes, trauma, and nerve injuries or disorders. When toes are crowded in shoes that are too tight and narrow, they are unable to rest flat, and this curled
toe position may become permanent even when you aren't wearing shoes due to the tendons of the toe permanently tightening. When the tendons are held in one hammertoe
position for too long, the muscles tighten and eventually become unable to stretch back out. A similar
situation may result when tendons are injured due to trauma, such as a stubbed, jammed, or broken toe.
A hammertoe may be present but not always painful unless irritated by shoes. One may have enlarged toe joints with some thickened skin and no redness or swelling. However, if shoes create pressure on
the joint, the pain will usually range from pinching and squeezing to sharp and burning. In long standing conditions, the dislocated joints can cause the pain of arthritis.
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
Mild hammer toe in children can be treated by manipulating and splinting the affected toe. The following changes in footwear may help relieve symptoms. Wear the right size shoes or shoes with wide
toe boxes for comfort, and to avoid making hammer toe worse. Avoid high heels as much as possible. Wear soft insoles to relieve pressure on the toe. Protect the joint that is sticking out with corn
pads or felt pads. A foot doctor can make foot devices called hammer toe regulators or straighteners for you, or you can buy them at the store. Exercises may be helpful. You can try gentle stretching
exercises if the toe is not already in a fixed position. PIcking up a towel with your toes can help stretch and straighten the small muscles in the foot.
Hammer toe can be corrected by surgery if conservative measures fail. Usually, surgery is done on an outpatient basis 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.