Essentially, there's one consistent type of hammertoe
, the condition in which your toes are
contracted into a hammer or upside-down "V" shape. However, depending on its severity, hammertoe is characterized into two forms. Flexible hammertoe is hammertoe in which the joints of the toes are
still moveable or flexible and can be treated with nonsurgical therapies. Rigid hammertoe is the more serious condition in which the joints' muscles and tendons have lost any flexibility and the
contraction cannot be corrected by nonsurgical means. As a result, surgery is generally required to deal with the problem. This is why it's important to consult a physician as soon as the problem is
recognized for the possibility of successful nonsurgical treatment.
Some causes of hammertoe are shoes that are too tight or short, shoes with high heels, injury, Diseases that affect the nerves and muscles, such as arthritis and diabetes. When shoes do not fit well,
over time the pressure of the shoes pushes the toes into a bent position. After a while, the muscles become unable to straighten the toe, even when you are not wearing shoes. Similarly, when there is
damage or disease of the nerves or muscles in the toes, the toe may rest in the bent position until the tendons become permanently shortened and the toe becomes a rigid hammertoe. The risk of
developing a hammertoe increases with age. Women are much more likely to develop a hammertoe than men.
A soft corn, or heloma molle, may exist in the web space between toes. This is more commonly caused by an exostosis, which is basically an extra growth of bone possibly due to your foot structure. As
this outgrowth of excessive bone rubs against other toes, there is friction between the toes and a corn forms for your protection.
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.
In some cases, usually when the hammertoe has become more rigid and painful, or when an open sore has developed, surgery is needed. Often patients with hammertoe have bunions or other foot
deformities corrected at the same time. In selecting the procedure or combination of procedures for your particular case, the foot and ankle surgeon will take into consideration the extent of your
deformity, the number of toes involved, your age, your activity level, and other factors. The hammertoes
length of the recovery period will vary, depending on the procedure or procedures
Prevention of a hammertoe can be difficult as symptoms do not arise until the problem exists. Wearing shoes that have extra room in the toes may eliminate the problem or slow down the deformity from
getting worse. Sometimes surgery is recommended for the condition. If the area is irritated with redness, swelling, and pain some ice and anti-inflammatory medications may be helpful. The best
prevention may be to get advice from your podiatrist.