is most common in women, and a big part of this is poor shoe choices, which are a big factor in the
development of many foot problems. Tight toe boxes and high heels are the biggest culprits. Genetics certainly plays a role in Hammer toes
some cases of hammertoes, as does trauma, infection, arthritis,
and certain neurological and muscle disorders. Most cases of contracted toes are associated with various biomechanical abnormalities in how a patient walks. This causes the muscles and tendons to be
used excessively or improperly, which deforms the toes over time.
While most cases of hammertoes are caused by an underlying muscle imbalance, it may develop as a result of several different causes, including arthritis, a hereditary condition, an injury, or
ill-fitting shoes. In some cases, patients develop hammertoes after wearing shoes or stockings that are too tight for long periods of time. These patients usually develop hammertoes in both
If the toes remain in the hammertoe position for long periods, the tendons on the top of the foot will tighten over time because they are not stretched to their full length. Eventually, the tendons
shorten enough that the toe stays bent, even when shoes are not being worn. The symptoms of hammertoe include a curling toe, pain or discomfort in the toes and ball of the foot or the front of the
leg, especially when toes are stretched downward, thickening of the skin above or below the affected toe with the formation of corns or calluses, difficulty finding shoes that fit well. In its early
stages, hammertoe is not obvious. Frequently, hammertoe does not cause any symptoms except for the claw-like toe shape.
Although hammertoes are readily apparent, to arrive at a diagnosis the foot and ankle surgeon will obtain a thorough history of your symptoms and examine your foot. During the physical examination,
the doctor may attempt to reproduce your symptoms by manipulating your foot and will study the contractures of the toes. In addition, the foot and ankle surgeon may take x-rays to determine the
degree of the deformities and assess any changes that may have occurred.
Non Surgical Treatment
A person with hammer toes will be asked to practice some exercises for their toes to regain average structure and movement. The exercises usually involve stretching and strengthening their toes. The
person may attempt to pick things up off the floor using only their toes. They may also stretch their toes on a regular basis by hand to ease them into straightening out. Another example of a
physical exercise specifically for a person's toes involves crumpling a towel with the toes. The towel can lie underneath the person's feet and the person can use their toes to scrunch up the towel
as they perform simple tasks such as reading a book or watching television.
Sometimes, if the deformity is severe enough or surgical modification is needed, the toe bones may be fused so that the toe does not bend. Buried wires are used to allow for the fusion to heal, and
they remain in place after healing. Your skin is closed with fine sutures, which are typically removed seven to ten days after surgery. A dressing is used to help keep your toes in their new
position. Dressings should not get wet or be removed. After surgery, your doctor may prescribe pain relievers, typically for the initial four to seven days. Most people heal completely within one
month of surgery, with few complications, if any. Crutches or a cane may be needed to help you keep weight off your affected foot, depending on the procedure. Occasionally, patients receive a special
post-op shoe or a walking boot that is to be worn during the healing process. Most people are able to shower normally after surgery, but must protect the dressing from getting wet. Many patients are
allowed to resume driving within one week after the procedure, but care needs to be taken.
elect and wear the right shoe for specific activities (such as running shoes for running). Alternate shoes. Don't wear the same pair of shoes every day. Avoid walking barefoot, which increases the
risk for injury and infection. At the beach or when wearing sandals, always use sunblock on your feet, as you would on the rest of your body. Be cautious when using home remedies for foot ailments.
Self-treatment can often turn a minor problem into a major one. It is critical that people with diabetes see a podiatric physician at least once a year for a checkup. People with diabetes, poor
circulation, or heart problems should not treat their own feet, including toenails, because they are more prone to infection.