There are two types of hammertoes
. Flexible hammer toes. If the toe can still be moved at the joint,
it's a flexible hammer toe. That's good, because this is an earlier, less-severe form of the problem. There may be several treatment options. Rigid hammer toes. If the tendons in the toe become
rigid, they press the joint out of alignment. At this stage, the toe can't be moved. This usually means surgery is required to correct the problem.
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.
Common reasons patients seek treatment for toe problems are toe pain on the knuckle. Thick toe calluses. Interference with walking/activities. Difficulty fitting shoes. Worsening toe deformity. Pain
at the ball of the foot. Unsightly appearance. Toe deformities (contractures) come in varying degrees of severity, from slight to severe. The can be present in conjunction with a bunion, and develop
onto a severe disfiguring foot deformity. Advanced cases, the toe can dislocate on top of the foot. Depending on your overall health, symptoms and severity of the hammer toe, the condition may be
treated conservatively and/or with surgery.
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.
Non Surgical Treatment
Treatment options for a hammertoe are based on the severity of the condition. A hammertoe caused by inappropriate footwear can be corrected by wearing properly fitting shoes. If a high arch caused
the condition, wearing toe pads or insoles in your shoes can help. These pads work by shifting your toe?s position, which relieves pain and corrects the appearance of your toe.
Surgical correction is needed to bring the toe into a corrected hammertoe
position and increase its
function. Correction of the hammer toes is a simple outpatient surgery, with limited downtime. The best option is to fuse the deformed and contracted toe into a straight position. This limits the
need for future surgery and deformity return. A new pin that absorbs in the bone or small screw is used by the Foot and Ankle Institute to avoid the need for a metal pin protruding from the toe
during recovery. Although the absorbable pin is not for everyone, it is much more comfortable than the pin protruding from the end of the toe. In certain cases, a removal of a small area of bone in
the deformity area will decrease pain and limit the need for a surgical waiting period that is found with fusions. Although the toe is not as stable as with a fusion, in certain cases, an
arthroplasty is the best option.
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.