Hammertoe is simply the bending of one or both joints of the toes. A contracture of the tendons, laxity of the ligaments and the angulation of the second and third phalanges of the toe takes place.

Symptoms of Hammertoe

Hammertoe usually starts out with mild deformities which get worse with time. In the initial stages the bend is flexible and can be easily treated. But if ignored the hammertoe becomes rigid and gets difficult to treat.

  • The affected toe suffers from pain and irritation while wearing shoes.
  • Corns may build up on the toe.
  • Calluses may arise at the bottom of the toe or ball of the foot.
  • It is very essential to deal with the symptoms of hammertoe as they are very progressive in nature and can get difficult later on.

Types of Hammer toes:

Two types of hammer toes are there:

  • Flexible Hammertoes:

    These toes can move at the joint as they are flexible. This is the first stage of the problem which is very mild and has several treatment options.

  • Rigid Hammertoes:

    In this condition the tendons present in the toe becomes rigid and pressurizes the joint and throws it out of the alignment. This is the stage in which no movement in the toe is noticed and usually surgery is required.

Causes of Hammertoes:

Actually the muscles present in each toe function in pairs, when these muscles are not properly balanced a hammer toe is formed. This imbalance in the muscles of the toe puts intense pressure on the joints and tendons of the toes. This pressure forces the toes to transform into a hammerhead shape.

Treatment Methods for Hammer toes:

Some of the treatment methods for hammer toes are:

  • Preventive Treatment Measures of Hammertoes:

    These comprise of functional orthotic which is a special insert used to treat the abnormal function of the foot which results in hammertoes. The functional orthotics are like contact lenses which correct the underlying problems of the foot which are responsible for the abnormal functioning the foot. The use of functional orthotics slows down the gradual changes taking place in the foot. When these orthotics are used when the hammertoes are flexible then the toes will straighten and correct themselves with the passage of time.

  • Symptomatic Treatment of Hammertoes:

    This treatment comprises of the use of hammertoe pads or open toed shoes. The formation of painful callous in the hammertoes can be treated with the help of corn removers. It is advisable to use these medications on the corns and callouses present in between the toes. Especially the person suffering from diabetes or bad circulation of blood must use these medications carefully.

  • Curative Treatment of Hammer Toes:

    This type of treatment is performed in the initial stage of hammertoes. In this process a single stitch and a Band-Aid is used for correcting the deformity. In rigid hammer toe the surgical procedure can be performed by removing the skin which is damaged and surrounds the corn present on the foot. In this procedure a small portion of bone is removed from the level of the rigid joint. The stiches are left over in place for nearly 10 days. In this period the operated part must be kept dry. In severe cases pin is used for keeping the toe in its place.

There are several complications associated with the surgery they are infections, swelling which could delay the process of healing and the required deviation of the toe. In case a large bone is removed at the time of surgery it could result in floppy toe.