A Hammer toes
is a deformity of the second, third or fourth toes. In this condition, the toe is
bent at the middle joint, so that it resembles a hammer. Initially, hammer toes are flexible and can be corrected with simple measures but, if left untreated, they can become fixed and require
surgery. People with hammer toe may have corns or calluses on the top of hammertoe
middle joint of the toe or on the tip of the toe. They may also feel pain in their toes or feet and have difficulty finding comfortable shoes.
The muscles of each toe work in pairs. When the toe muscles get out of balance, a hammer toe 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. Your genes, you may have inherited a tendency to develop hammer toes because your foot is
slightly unstable - such as a flat foot. But high-arched feet can also get hammer toes. Arthritis. Injury to the toe: ill-fitting shoes are the main culprits of this cause. 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.
For some people, a hammer toe is nothing more than an unsightly deformity that detracts from the appearance of the foot. However, discomfort may develop if a corn or callus develops on the end or top
of the toe. If pressure and friction continue on the end or top of the toe, a painful ulcer may develop. Discomfort or pain can lead to difficulty walking.
The treatment options vary with the type and severity of each hammer toe, although identifying the deformity early in its development is important to avoid surgery. Your podiatric physician will
examine and X-ray the affected area and recommend a treatment plan specific to your condition.
Non Surgical Treatment
Apply a commercial, nonmedicated hammertoe pad around the bony prominence of the hammertoe. This will decrease pressure on the area. Wear a shoe with a deep toe box. If the hammertoe becomes inflamed
and painful, apply ice packs several times a day to reduce swelling. Avoid heels more than two inches tall. A loose-fitting pair of shoes can also help protect the foot while reducing pressure on the
affected toe, making walking a little easier until a visit to your podiatrist can be arranged. It is important to remember that, while this treatment will make the hammertoe feel better, it does not
cure the condition. A trip to the podiatric physician?s office will be necessary to repair the toe to allow for normal foot function. Avoid wearing shoes that are too tight or narrow. Children should
have their shoes properly fitted on a regular basis, as their feet can often outgrow their shoes rapidly. See your podiatric physician if pain persists.
Laser surgery is popular for cosmetic procedures, however, for hammer toe surgery it does not offer any advantage to traditional methods. Laser is useful for soft tissues (not bone), and because
hammer toe surgery involves bone procedures, it is not effective. For cosmetic hammer toe surgery, patients should look for surgeons experienced in aesthetic foot surgery.