A #LINK is a common and painful deformity in the three middle toes where they appear to always be bent. Causes of hammer toes include shoes that don?t fit properly, foot injuries, bunions and
rheumatoid arthritis. Having toe joints sticking out can cause them to rub and a person may walk differently, risking other foot conditions, such as metatarsalgia. Hammer toes can be a serious
problem in people with diabetes or poor circulation.
Footwear is actually the leading cause of this type of toe deformity so much so that people sometimes require hammer toe surgery to undo some of the damage. The most common problem is wearing shoes
that are too short, too narrow or too tight. These shoes constricts the feet and force the toes into a bend position. Women are more at risk especially due to high heels. Footwear isn?t the only
problem, poor foot posture can lead to muscle and even bone imbalances. This asymmetry can cause excessive strain on the toes either by forcing the toe into unnatural hammertoe
positions. Arthritis can also play a factor in the development of hammer toe, especially if the toe joint is stiff and incapable of
a full range of motion.
People who have painful hammertoes visit their podiatrist because their affected toe is either rubbing on the end their shoe (signaling a contracted flexor tendon), rubbing on the top of their shoe
(signaling a contracted extensor tendon), or rubbing on another toe and causing a painful buildup of thick skin, known as a corn.
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
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.
Surgical correction is necessary in more severe cases and may consist of removing a bone spur (exostectomy) removing the enlarged bone and straightening the toe (arthroplasty), sometimes with
internal fixation using a pin to realign the toe; shortening a long metatarsal bone (osteotomy) fusing the toe joint and then straightening the toe (arthrodesis) or simple tendon lengthening and
capsule release in milder, flexible hammertoes (tenotomy and capsulotomy). The procedure chosen depends in part on how flexible the hammertoe is.
Avoid wearing shoes that are too short or narrow. Check children's shoe sizes often, especially during periods of fast growth. If you have hammer toe, call for an appointment with your health care
provider. If you develop thick blisters or corns on your toes, if your pain gets worse, if you have difficulty walking call for an appointment with your health care provider.