Essentially, there's one consistent type of Hammer toes
, the condition in which your toes are
contracted into a hammer or upside-down "V" shape. However, depending on its severity, hammertoe is characterized into two forms. Flexible hammertoe is hammertoe in which the joints of the toes are
still moveable or flexible and can be treated with nonsurgical therapies. Rigid hammertoe is the more serious condition in which the joints' muscles and tendons have lost any flexibility and the
contraction cannot be corrected by nonsurgical means. As a result, surgery is generally required to deal with the problem. This is why it's important to consult a physician as soon as the problem is
recognized for the possibility of successful nonsurgical treatment.
A hammer toe develops because of an abnormal balance of the muscles in the toes. This abnormal balance causes increased pressures on the tendons and joints of the toe, leading to its contracture.
Heredity and trauma can also lead to the formation of a hammer toe. Arthritis is another factor, because the balance around the toe in people with arthritis is disrupted. Wearing shoes that are too
tight and cause hammertoes
the toes to squeeze can also cause a hammer toe to form.
Symptoms may include pain in the affected toe or toes when you wear shoes, making it hard or painful to walk. A corn or callus on the top of the joint caused by rubbing against the shoe. Swelling and
redness of the skin over the joint. Trouble finding comfortable shoes.
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
Treating hammertoe involves straightening the toe, making tendons in the toes flexible again, and preventing the problem from returning. Some simple treatments include Soaking your feet every day in
warm water, then stretching your toes and ankles by pointing your toes. Using over-the-counter pads, cushions or straps to decrease discomfort. Splinting the toe to keep it straight and to stretch
the tendons of the foot. Exercising the toes to relax the foot tendons (a session with a physical therapist may help you get started with foot exercises). One simple exercise is to place a small
towel on the floor and then pick it up using only your toes. You also can grasp at carpet with your toes or curl your toes up and down repeatedly. Wearing shoes that fit properly and give toes plenty
of room to stretch out.
Sometimes when the joints are removed the two bones become one as they are fused in a straightened position. Many times one toe will be longer than another and a piece of bone is removed to bring the
toes in a more normal length in relation to each other. Sometimes tendons will be lengthened, or soft tissue around the joints will be cut or rebalanced to fix the deformity. Angular corrections may
also be needed. The surgeon may place fixation in your foot as it heals which may include a pin, or wires.
If you wish to prevent or cure a bunion or hammertoe deformity naturally, you must be willing to view your footwear as health equipment, rather than as fashion statements. Even our walking and
running shoes have tapering toeboxes, heel elevation and toespring, which encourage bunion and hammertoe formation, yet the market shows us that fashion and style rule most people?s agenda when it
comes to buying footwear.