There are two different types of Hammer toes
. Flexible Hammer Toes. These hammer toes are less serious because they can be diagnosed
and treated while still in the developmental stage. They are called flexible hammer toes because they are still moveable at the joint. Rigid Hammer Toes. This variety is more developed and more
serious than the flexible condition. Rigid hammer toes can be seen in patients with severe arthritis, for example, or in patients who wait too long to seek professional treatment. The tendons in a
rigid hammer toe have become tight, and the joint misaligned and immobile, making surgery the usual course of treatment.
Most hammertoes are caused by wearing ill-fitting, tight or high-heeled shoes over a long period of time. Shoes that don?t fit well can crowd the toes, putting pressure on the middle toes and causing
them to curl downward. Other causes include genes. Some people are born with hammertoe, bunions. These knobby bumps sometimes develop at the side of the big toe. This can make the big toe bend toward
the other toes. The big toe can then overlap and crowd the smaller toes. Arthritis in a toe joint can lead to hammertoe.
Pain upon pressure at the top of the bent toe from footwear. The formation of corns on the top of the joint. Redness and swelling at the joint contracture. Restricted or painful motion of the toe
joint. Pain in the ball of the foot at the base of the affected toe.
Your doctor is very likely to be able to diagnose your hammertoe simply by examining your foot. Even before that, he or she will probably ask about your family and personal medical history and
evaluate your gait as you walk and the types of shoes you wear. You'll be asked about your symptoms, when they started and when they occur. You may also be asked to flex your toe so that your doctor
can get an idea of your hammertoes
range of motion. He or she may order
x-rays in order to better define your deformity.
Non Surgical Treatment
Many people start by treating the problem themselves when they have a painful corn or callus. They try to remove the corn by cutting it off or by applying strong acids, and they try to cushion the
toe by applying cushioned pads. Because these treatments can be difficult to perform by oneself (and should never be done by oneself when the patient is diabetic or circulation is poor), and because
these treatments only treat the symptom, not the structural deformity that causes their symptom, these treatments can often provide only limited success, and often any success is for only short
periods of time. Changes in shoe choices and various types of paddings and other appliances may help, too. For longer-lasting help, we must examine the cause of the deformity. The reason for knowing
the cause is that the type of treatment will vary, depending upon the cause of the complaint. Orthotics help control the causes of certain types of contracted toes, (those caused by flexor
stabilization, for example), but not other types.
If pinning the toe is not required during the procedure, then the surgery could be preformed in the doctor's office under a local anesthesia. Some patients prefer the comfort of sedation during the
surgery and if this is the case or if a pin must be placed, then the surgery could be preformed in an outpatient surgery center.
How can I prevent hammer toe? Avoid wearing shoes that are narrow or don?t fit well. Also, don?t wear heels higher than 2 inches. Instead, choose shoes with a wide toe box that give you ? inch
between the end of your longest toe and the inside tip of the shoe. Check often to make sure your child?s shoes fit, especially when he or she is having a growth spurt.