(hammertoe) is a deformity of the second, third, or fourth toes. In this condition, the toe is bent at the
middle joint, into an upward position, causing it to resemble a hammer (sometimes decribed as ?curled toes?). Left untreated, hammer toes can become inflexible and require surgery. Toes which take on
a curled appearance are hammer toes. Mallet toe is a similar condition, but affects the upper joint of a toe.
The incorrect position of the person's toes inside of their shoes also causes the formation of calluses or corns on the surfaces of their toes which are constantly bent as they are wearing
inappropriate shoes because the surfaces are consistently rubbing against the hard materials of the interior of the shoes causing regular friction.
A hammertoe may be present but not always painful unless irritated by shoes. One may have enlarged toe joints with some thickened skin and no redness or swelling. However, if shoes create pressure on
the joint, the pain will usually range from pinching and squeezing to sharp and burning. In long standing conditions, the dislocated joints can cause the pain of arthritis.
Your healthcare provider will examine your foot, checking for redness, swelling, corns, and calluses. Your provider will also measure the flexibility of your toes and test how much feeling you have
in your toes. You may have blood tests to check for arthritis, diabetes, and infection.
Non Surgical Treatment
Padding and Taping. Often this is the first step in a treatment plan. Padding the hammertoe prominence minimizes pain and allows the patient to continue a normal, active life. Taping may change the
imbalance around the toes and thus relieve the stress and pain. Medication. Anti-inflammatory drugs and cortisone injections can be prescribed to ease acute pain and inflammation caused by the joint
deformity. Orthotic Devices. Custom shoe inserts made by your podiatrist may be useful in controlling foot function. An orthotic device may reduce symptoms and prevent the worsening of the hammertoe
Surgical Options: Several surgical procedures are available to the podiatric physician. For less severe deformities, the surgery will remove the bony prominence and restore normal alignment of the
toe joint, thus relieving pain. Severe hammer toes, which are not fully reducible, may require more complex surgical procedures. Recuperation takes time, and some swelling and discomfort are common
for several weeks following surgery. Any pain, however, is easily managed with medications prescribed by your podiatrist.
In some cases foot problems may present at birth, many foot problems such as hammer toes can be prevented. Hammer toe prevention can be a simple process, such as, checking your feet regularly and
wearing the right shoes for your feet. Good circulation is also an essential part of foot health and hammer toe prevention. Taking a warm foot bath or giving yourself a hammertoes
foot massage are great ways of keeping your feet healthy.