The term, Hammer toes
is used to describe the collective physical deformity of
the second, third and fourth toe on a person's foot when they are permanently bent at one or two of their joints, often times at their middle joints or, 'proximal interphalangeal,' joints. The
condition is also referred to as, 'contracted toes,' and earned its name for the resulting bowed appearance of the toes that made them appear similar to hammers. The distortion of the usual contour
of the person's toes is usually a result of wearing shoes that are too short or narrow and apply consistent pressure to the toes, forcing them to be pushed together and lie obliquely. The situation
is particularly true in the case of shoes that are designed to narrow towards the toe box.
The incorrect position of the person's toes inside of their shoes also causes the formation of calluses or corns on the surfaces of their toes which are constantly bent as they are wearing
inappropriate shoes because the surfaces are consistently rubbing against the hard materials of the interior of the shoes causing regular friction.
If you have any of these symptoms, do not assume it is due to hammer toe. Talk to your doctor about symptoms such as a toe that curls down, corns on the top of a toe, calluses on the sole of the foot
or bottom of the toe, pain in the middle joint of a toe, discomfort on the top of a toe, difficulty finding any shoes that fit comfortably, cramping in a toe, and sometimes also the foot and leg,
difficult or painful motion of a toe joint, pain in the ball of the foot or at the base of a toe.
Hammer toes may be easily detected through observation. The malformation of the person's toes begin as mild distortions, yet may worsen over time - especially if the factors causing the hammer toes
are not eased or removed. If the condition is paid attention to early enough, the person's toes may not be permanently damaged and may be treated without having to receive surgical intervention. If
the person's toes remain untreated for too long, however the muscles within the toes might stiffen even more and will require invasive procedures to correct the deformity.
Non Surgical Treatment
Try to find shoes that are soft, roomy, and comfortable and avoid tight shoes or shoes with high heels. A shoe repair shop may be able to stretch a small pocket in regular shoes to make room for the
hammertoe. Have a professional pedicure. Sometimes a skilled manicurist can file down a painful corn. Follow your healthcare provider's instructions. Ask your provider what activities you should
avoid and when you can return to your normal activities, how to take care of yourself at home, what symptoms or problems you should watch for and what to do if you have them. Make sure you know when
you should come back for a checkup.
The technique the surgeon applies during the surgery depends on how much flexibility the person's affected toes still retain. If some flexibility has still been preserved in their affected toes, the
hammer toes might be corrected through making a small incision into the toe so the surgeon can manipulate the tendon that is forcing the person's toes into a curved position. If, however, the
person's toes have become completely rigid, the surgeon might have to do more than re-aligning the person's tendons. Some pieces of bone may have to be removed so the person's toe has the ability to
straighten out. If this is the case, some pins are attached onto the person's foot afterwards to fix their bones into place while the Hammer toes
injured tissue heals.