Hammer toe is defined as a deformity in the toe where part of the toe is permanently bent downward resembling a hammer. Two related conditions are mallet toe and claw toe which effect different toe
joints in slightly different ways. The key difference is that hammertoes
tends to effect the middle joint in the
toe (note: not the middle toe, the middle toe joint). The disease is usually associated with the second largest toe but can effect the third or fourth toe as well. Mallet toe effects the uppermost
toe joint whereas claw toe is caused by the tow being held in a cramped ?claw-like? position.
A hammertoe is formed due 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 hammertoe. Arthritis is another factor, because the balance around the toe in people with arthritis is so disrupted that a hammertoe may develop.
Wearing shoes that are too tight and cause the toes to squeeze can also be a cause for a hammertoe to form.
At first, a hammertoe or mallet toe may maintain its flexibility and lie flat when you're not wearing crowded footwear. But eventually, the tendons of the toe may contract and tighten, causing your
toe to become permanently stiff. Your shoes can rub against the raised portion of the toe or toes, causing painful corns or calluses.
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 Hammer toe
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 range of motion. He or she may order x-rays in order to better
define your deformity.
Non Surgical Treatment
Non-surgical methods for hammer toes (claw toes) are aimed at decreasing symptoms (i.e., pain and/or calluses) and/or limiting the progression into a larger problem. Simple treatments patients can do
are wear supportive shoes. Use an arch support. Wear shoes with a wide toe box. Modify activities. Spot stretch shoes. Periodic callus care.
Toe Relocation procedures are ancillary procedures that are performed in conjunction with one of the two methods listed about (joint resection or joint mending). When the toe is deformed (buckled) at
the ball of the foot, then this joint often needs to be re-positioned along with ligament releases/repair to get the toe straight. A temporary surgical rod is needed to hold the toe aligned while the