deformities can be painful and unsightly. These toe deformities
can be the result of a muscle/tendon imbalance or often the end stage result of some systemic disease such as diabetes or arthritis, especially Rheumatoid arthritis. Hammertoe deformities are
progressive and can be prevented.
If a foot is flat (pes planus, pronated), the flexor muscles on the bottom of the foot can overpower the others because a flatfoot is longer than a foot with a normal arch. When the foot flattens and
lengthens, greater than normal tension is exerted on the flexor muscles in the toes. The toes are not strong enough to resist this tension and they may be overpowered, resulting in a contracture of
the toe, or a bending down of the toe at the first toe joint (the proximal interphalangeal joint) which results in a hammertoe. If a foot has a high arch (pes cavus, supinated), the extensor muscles
on the top of the foot can overpower Hammer toe
the muscles on the
bottom of the foot because the high arch weakens the flexor muscles. This allows the extensor muscles to exert greater than normal tension on the toes. The toes are not strong enough to resist this
tension and they may be overpowered, resulting in a contracture of the toe, or a bending down of the toe at the first toe joint (the proximal interphalangeal joint) which results in a
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.
The earlier a hammertoe is diagnosed, the better the prognosis and treatment options. Your doctor will be able to diagnose your hammertoe with a simple examination of the foot and your footwear. He
or she may take an x-ray to check the severity of the condition. You may also be asked about your symptoms, your normal daily activities, and your medical and family history.
Non Surgical Treatment
A toe doctor can provide you with devices such as hammer toe regulators or straighteners. These are also available for purchase locally. Another good idea is to start the hammer toe rehabilitation
process by gently trying to straighten the joint and moving and flexing the affected toe as much as possible without straining it. If hammer toe taping doesn?t work, you may require surgery. If the
joints and tendons have stiffened to a point of non-movement, hammer toe corrective surgery may need to enter the toe and either cut or manually move some of the tendons and ligaments. Although the
treatment is relatively safe fast, you may deal with some stiffness afterwards.
Until recently, wires were used for surgical correction. In this technique, one or more wires are inserted into the bone through both the affected joint and a normally healthy toe joint, and the end
of the toe. These wires stay in place for four to six weeks, protruding from the end of the toes. Due to the protruding wire, simple things such working, driving, bathing and even sleeping are
difficult while these wires are in place. During this recovery period, patients often experience discomfort during sleep and are subject possible infection.