If the joint on one of your toes, usually the toe next to the big toe or the smallest toe, points upward rather than lying flat, you might have a Hammer toes
. The condition is actually a deformity that happens when one of the toe muscles becomes weak and puts pressure
on the toe?s tendons and joints. This pressure forces the toe to become misshapen and stick up at the joint. Also, there?s frequently a corn or callus on top of the deformed toe. This outgrowth can
cause pain when it rubs against the shoe.
The muscles of each toe work in pairs. When the toe muscles get out of balance, a hammertoe can form. Muscle imbalance puts a lot of pressure on the toe's tendons and joints. This pressure forces the
toe into a hammerhead shape. How do the toe muscles get out of balance? There are three main reasons. Genes. you may have inherited a tendency to develop hammertoes because your feet are somewhat
unstable, they may be flat or have a high arch. Arthritis. Injury to the toe, ill-fitting shoes are the main culprits. If shoes are too tight, too short, or too pointy, they push the toes out of
balance. Pointy, high-heeled shoes put particularly severe pressure on the toes.
People with a hammer toe will often find that a corn or callus will develop on the top of the toe, where it rubs against the top of the footwear. This can be painful when pressure is applied or when
anything rubs on it. The affected joint may also be painful and appear swollen.
Most health care professionals can diagnose hammertoe simply by examining your toes and feet. X-rays of the feet are not needed to diagnose hammertoe, but they may be useful to look for signs of some
types of arthritis (such as rheumatoid arthritis) or other disorders that can cause hammertoe. If the deformed toe is very painful, your doctor may recommend that you have a fluid sample withdrawn
from the joint with a needle so the fluid can be checked for signs of infection or gout (arthritis from crystal deposits).
Non Surgical Treatment
Hammer toes usually get progressively worse over time, especially if you avoid seeking care. Not all cases are the same, so it is important to get your podiatrist or foot surgeon to evaluate your
condition so that you can get the treatment you need as soon as possible. Your treatment options will vary depending on the severity of your hammer toe. You may not require surgery to treat your
hammer toe. Your doctor may suggest one of these less invasive measures. Instead of wearing shoes that are too high or too short, wear comfortable shoes that have plenty of room and are flat or
low-heeled. Your doctor can prescribe pads that will prevent your corns or calluses from getting irritated. Avoid over-the-counter medicated pads, as they contain acid that can worsen your condition.
An orthotic device can be customized to fit your shoe and foot. It can help control your tendon and muscle imbalance, which in turn may ease your pain. NSAIDS (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs)
such as ibuprofen can reduce inflammation. By relieving Hammer toes
swelling in your toe joint, you
can alleviate your pain. Splints or small straps can be placed on your toe by a foot surgeon to realign your bent toe. Applying ice packs wrapped in cloth on your hammer toe can reduce inflammation
and swelling. Gently massaging your toes can assist in alleviating your pain caused by hammer toes. Try exercises that stretch your feet as these can help restore your muscle balance. A simple
exercise that can help is to pick up a cloth or small object from the floor by curling your toes. This action will help your feet and toes by stretching them.
Treatment of a severe hammertoe that has become rigid includes surgery. What is done during the surgery depends on how misshapen and inflexible the toe is. The surgeon may make a cut over your toe
and release the tendon by cutting the tendon away from the bone. The surgeon may remove a small piece of bone from the toe. The surgeon may realign the tendons to reposition your toe or fasten the
bones with pins. Sometimes the surgeon may have to join the bones in the toe. In this case, you will no longer be able to bend the toe, but the toe will be flat.