is a painful deformity wherein a toe bends unnaturally. Hammertoe can develop on any of the
toes, but generally affects the middle three and, most often, the second toe. When unusual stress is applied over a period of years, the joints and tendons of your foot can cease to function in a
balanced manner and toes, in an effort to compensate, can begin to bend into the hammertoe shape. Hammertoes tend to run in families.
This condition is greatly influenced by the footwear we choose. Ladies who wear high heels are a perfect example. High heels force the toes to overlap and bend at the middle joint of the toe,
resulting in hammertoe. But high heels are not the only culprits. Anyone who wears shoes that are too tight is increasing their risk of developing hammertoe. This progressive condition, which will
only get better with treatment, can cause pain as the toes are forced to bend unnaturally.
The symptoms of a hammer toe include the following. Pain at the top of the bent toe upon pressure from footwear. Formation of corns on the top of the joint. Redness and swelling at the joint
contracture. Restricted or painful motion of the toe joint. Pain in the ball of the foot at the base of the affected toe.
First push up on the bottom of the metatarsal head associated with the affected toe and see if the toe straightens out. If it does, then an orthotic could correct the problem, usually with a
metatarsal pad. If the toe does not straighten out when the metatarsal head is pushed up, then hammertoe
that indicates that contracture in the capsule and ligaments (capsule contracts
because the joint was in the wrong position for too long) of the MTP joint has set in and surgery is required. Orthotics are generally required post-surgically.
Non Surgical Treatment
Changing the type of footwear worn is a very important step in the treatment of hammer toes. When choosing a shoe, make sure the toe box (toe area) is high and broad, and can accommodate the hammer
toes. A shoe with a high, broad toe box will provide enough room in the forefoot area so that there is less friction against the toes. Other conservative treatments include using forefoot products
designed to relieve hammer toes, such as hammer toe crests and hammer toe splints. These devices will help hold down the hammer toe and provide relief to the forefoot. Gel toe shields and gel toe
caps are also recommended to eliminate friction between the shoe and the toe, while providing comfort and lubrication.
There are several surgical techniques used to treat hammertoes. When the problem is less severe, the doctor will remove a small piece of bone at the involved joint and realign the toe joint. More
severe hammer toes may need more complicated surgery.
Most cases of hammertoe can be prevented by wearing shoes that fit properly and give the toes plenty of room. Some recommended guidelines include avoid shoes with pointed or narrow toes. Avoid shoes
that are too tight or short. Avoid high-heeled shoes, which can force the toes forward. If the shoes hurt, don't wear them. Choose shoes with wide or boxy toes. Choose shoes that are a half-inch
longer than your longest toe.