A Hammer toe
is commonly mistaken as any type of toe deformity. The terms claw toe, or mallet
toe, although technically different than a hammer toe, are commonly referred as such. The toe may be flexible with movement at the joints, or it may be rigid, especially if it has been present for a
long time. With a true hammertoe the deformity exists at the proximal interphalangeal joint only.
Wearing shoes that squeeze the toes or high heels that jam the toes into the front of the shoe. Other causes or factors in the development of hammertoes can include an injury such as badly stubbing
your toe, arthritis and nerve and muscle damage from diseases such as diabetes. And, hammertoes tend to run in families, although it is more likely the faulty foot mechanics that lead to hammertoes
that are inherited, not the hammertoes themselves. Hammertoe generally affect the smaller toes of the foot, especially the second toe, which for many people is the longest toe. It's uncommon for the
big toe to be bent this way.
A toe stuck in an upside-down "V" is probably a hammertoe. Some symptoms are, pain at the top of the bent toe when putting on a shoe. Corns forming on the top of the toe joint. The toe joint swelling
and taking on an angry red colour. Difficulty in moving the toe joint and pain when you try to so. Pain on the ball of the foot under the bent toe. Seek medical advice if your feet regularly hurt,
you should see a doctor or podiatrist. If you have a hammertoe, you probably need medical attention. Ask your doctor for a referral to a podiatrist or foot surgeon. Act now, before the problem gets
First push up on the bottom of the metatarsal head associated with the affected toe and see if the toe straightens out. If it does, then an orthotic could correct the problem, usually with a
metatarsal pad. If the toe does not straighten out when the metatarsal head is pushed up, then that indicates that contracture in the capsule and ligaments (capsule contracts because the joint was in
the wrong position for too long) of the MTP joint has set in and surgery is required. Orthotics are generally required post-surgically.
Non Surgical Treatment
There is a variety of treatment options for hammertoe. The treatment your foot and ankle surgeon selects will depend upon the severity of your hammertoe and other factors. A number of non-surgical
measures can be undertaken. Padding corns and calluses. Your foot and ankle surgeon can provide or prescribe pads designed to shield corns from irritation. If you want to try over-the-counter pads,
avoid the medicated types. Medicated pads are generally not recommended because they may contain a small amount of acid hammertoes
that can be harmful. Consult your surgeon about this option. Changes in shoewear.
Avoid shoes with pointed toes, shoes that are too short, or shoes with high heels, conditions that can force your toe against the front of the shoe. Instead, choose comfortable shoes with a deep,
roomy toe box and heels no higher than two inches. Orthotic devices. A custom orthotic device placed in your shoe may help control the muscle/tendon imbalance. Injection therapy. Corticosteroid
injections are sometimes used to ease pain and inflammation caused by hammertoe. Medications. Oral nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen, may be recommended to reduce pain
and inflammation. Splinting/strapping. Splints or small straps may be applied by the surgeon to realign the bent toe.
Surgery may not help how your foot looks. And your toe problems may also come back after surgery. This is more likely if you keep wearing the kinds of shoes that cause toe problems. Your expectations
will play a large role in how you feel about the results of surgery. If you are only having surgery to improve the way your foot looks, you may not be happy with how it turns out.