can occur when feet are crammed into shoes so tight that the front of the toes are pushed
against the front of the shoes for prolonged periods of time. One or more toes then remain bent with the middle knuckle pointing up, even when shoes are taken off. If the condition is left untreated
and tight footwear is continually worn, these bent toes can become so rigid that they can no longer straighten out on their own. While any shoes that are too tight can lead to this condition, high
heels seem to be a big culprit since the elevated ankle causes more weight to push the toes forward. This may explain why the condition affects more women than men.
The muscles of each toe work in pairs. When the toe muscles get out of balance, a hammer toe 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. Your genes, you may have inherited a tendency to develop hammer toes because your foot is
slightly unstable - such as a flat foot. But high-arched feet can also get hammer toes. Arthritis. Injury to the toe: ill-fitting shoes are the main culprits of this cause. 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.
The symptoms of hammertoe are progressive, meaning that they get worse over time. Hammertoe causes the middle joint on the second, third, fourth, or fifth toes to bend. The affected hammertoe
toe may be painful or irritated, especially when you wear shoes. Areas of thickened skin
(corns) may develop between, on top of, or at the end of your toes. Thickened skin (calluses) may also appear on the bottom of your toe or the ball of your foot. It may be difficult to find a pair of
shoes that is comfortable to wear.
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
The most common treatment is to wear more comfortable shoes. When choosing a shoe, make sure the toe area is high and broad and has enough room for hammer toes. If there is chronic pain, surgery may
be needed to correct a malalignment. Surgical treatments are aimed at loosening up the contracted toe joints to allow them to align properly. Other types of treatment are products designed to relieve
hammer toes, such as hammer toe crests and hammer toe splints. These devices will help hold down the hammer toe and provide relief to the forefoot. Gel toe shields and gel toe caps can also be used.
Gel toe shields and toe caps will help eliminate friction between the shoe and the toe, while providing comfort and lubrication.
he basis for hammer toe surgery most often involves removing s portion of bone within the toe, to reduce the joint contracture. Depending on the direction the toe is deviated, soft tissue procedures
may be necessary along with pinning the toe with a surgical wire.
As you get older, feet get bigger. Get your feet measured every time you buy shoes. Don't go by shoe sizes. Shoe sizes vary among manufacturers; a shoe is the right size only when it fits
comfortably. The ball of your foot should fit into the widest part of the shoe. A shoe should be sturdy such that it only bends in the ball of the foot, exactly where your big toes bend. Any shoe
that can be bent anywhere along the sole or twisted side to side is generally too flimsy.