is a contracture (bending) of one or both joints of the second, third, fourth, or fifth (little) toes. This abnormal
bending can put pressure on the toe when wearing shoes, causing problems to develop. Hammertoes usually start out as mild deformities and get progressively worse over time. In the earlier stages,
hammer toes are flexible and the symptoms can often be managed with noninvasive measures. But if left untreated, hammer toes can become more rigid and will not respond to non-surgical treatment.
Because of the progressive nature of hammertoes, they should receive early Hammer toe
attention. Hammertoes never get better without some kind of intervention.
More often than not, wearing shoes that do not fit a person well for too long may actually cause hammer toes. Wearing shoes that are too narrow or too tight for the person for extended periods of
time may eventually take a toll on the person's feet. The same is true for women who like wearing high-heeled shoes with narrow toe boxes.
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.
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 If the deformed toe is very painful, your doctor may recommend that you have a fluid sample withdrawn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
Apply a commercial, non-medicated hammer toe pad around the bony prominence of the hammer toe to decrease pressure on the area. Wear a shoe with a deep toe box. If the hammer toe becomes inflamed and
painful, apply ice packs several times a day to reduce swelling. Avoid heels more than two inches tall. A loose-fitting pair of shoes can also help protect the foot while reducing pressure on the
affected toe, making walking a little easier until a visit to your podiatrist can be arranged. While this treatment will make the hammer toe feel better, it is important to remember that it does not
cure the condition. A trip to the podiatrist's office will be necessary to repair the toe to allow for normal foot function. Avoid wearing shoes that are too tight or narrow. Children should have
their shoes properly fitted on a regular basis, as their feet can often outgrow their shoes rapidly.
As previously mentioned it?s best to catch this problem early; hammer toe taping is relatively harmless and simple. Long term complications can cause foot deformities and even difficulty walking.
It?s always best to stiff shoes and high heel, especially if you?re working on hammer toe recovery. Pick comfortable shoes with plenty of toe space. Prevention is the best cure here as this injury is
nearly always self inflicted.
Preventative treatment of hammertoe is directed toward the cause of the deformity. A functional orthotic is a special insert that can be prescribed by your podiatrist to address the abnormal
functioning of the foot that causes the hammertoe. Functional orthotics can be thought of as contact lenses for your feet. They correct a number of foot problems that are caused by an abnormally
functioning foot. Our feet, much like our eyes, change with time. Functional orthotics slow down or halt this gradual change in the foot. Often when orthotics are used for flexible hammertoes, the
toes will overtime straighten out and correct themselves. Calf stretching exercises are also helpful. Calf stretching can help to overcome part of the muscle imbalance that causes the hammertoe.