is a contracture, or bending, of the toe at the first joint of the digit, called the proximal
interphalangeal joint. This bending causes the toe to appear like an upside-down V when looked at from the side. Any toe can be involved, but the condition usually affects the second through fifth
toes, known as the lesser digits. Hammer toes are more common in females than males.
The muscles of each toe work in pairs. When the toe muscles get out of balance, a hammertoe can form. Muscle imbalance puts a lot of pressure on the toe's tendons and joints. This pressure forces the
toe into a hammerhead shape. How do the toe muscles get out of balance? There are three main reasons. Genes. you may have inherited a tendency to develop hammertoes because your feet are somewhat
unstable, they may be flat or have a high arch. Arthritis. Injury to the toe, ill-fitting shoes are the main culprits. If shoes are too tight, too short, or too pointy, they push the toes out of
balance. Pointy, high-heeled shoes put particularly severe pressure on the toes.
A toe (usually the second digit, next to the big toe) bent at the middle joint and clenched into a painful, clawlike position. As the toe points downward, the middle joint may protrude upward. A toe
with an end joint that curls under itself. Painful calluses or corns. Redness or a painful corn on top of the bent joint or at the tip of the affected toe, because of persistent rubbing against shoes
Pain in the toes that interferes with walking, jogging, dancing, and other normal activities, possibly leading to gait changes.
Although hammertoes are readily apparent, to arrive at a diagnosis the foot and ankle surgeon will obtain a thorough history of your symptoms and examine your foot. During the physical examination,
the doctor may attempt to reproduce your symptoms by manipulating your foot and will study the contractures of the toes. In addition, the foot and ankle surgeon may take x-rays to determine the
degree of the deformities and assess any changes that may have occurred.
Non Surgical Treatment
What will a doctor do? Treat any foot complaints such as corns, calluses by periodically reducing the lesion and applying appropriate pads and dressings. Recommend the silicone toe prop. If an
infection is present, then anti-septic dressings, antibiotics and pads to redistribute pressure away from the lesion may be necessary. In the case of a mallet toe, trigger toe or claw toe. If a corn
occurs at the end of the toe, a silicone or leather prop may be used to straighten the toe. In a hammertoe deformity, a silicone prop to redistribute pressure away from a corn may be necessary. The
doctor may give footwear advice. In severe cases, corrective surgery may be necessary. The doctor may recommend orthosis to correct a mechanical complaint of the foot, such as 3/4 length silicone
In more advanced cases of hammer toe, or when the accompanying pain cannot be relieved by conservative treatment, surgery may be required. Different types of surgical procedures are performed to
correct hammer toe, depending on the location and extent of the problem. Surgical treatment is generally effective for both flexible and fixed (rigid) forms of hammer toe. Recurrence following
surgery may develop in persons with flexible hammer toe, particularly if they resume wearing poorly-fitted shoes after the deformity is corrected.
There should be at Hammer toes
least one-half inch between the tip of
your longest toe and the front of the shoe. Never buy shoes that feel tight and expect them to stretch with wearing. If you have prominent areas on your feet such as hammertoes and bunions, avoid
shoes with a lot of stitching or multiple pieces of fabric, as these stitched areas tend not to stretch to accommodate various toe deformities.