is a term used to describe a crooked, deviated, or contracted toe. Although the condition usually stems from muscle imbalance, it is
often aggravated by poor-fitting shoes or socks that cramp the toes. Over a period of years, the tendons that move the toe up and down begin to pull the toe with unequal tension, and the toe then
begins to buckle or become contracted, causing an abnormal "v"-shaped bending of the little toes. Patients with this condition often experience pain, swelling, redness and stiffness in the affected
Hammer toe usually affects the second toe. However, it may also affect the other toes. The toe moves into a claw-like position. The most common cause of hammer toe is wearing short, narrow shoes that
are too tight. The toe is forced into a bent position. Muscles and tendons in the toe tighten and become shorter. Hammer toe is more likely to occur in women who wear shoes that do not fit well or
have high heels and children who keep wearing shoes they have outgrown. The condition may be present at birth (congenital) or develop over time. In rare cases, all of the toes are affected. This may
be caused by a problem with the nerves or spinal cord.
The symptoms of a hammer toe include the following. Pain at the top of the bent toe upon pressure from footwear. Formation of corns on the top of the joint. Redness and swelling at the joint
contracture. Restricted or painful motion of the toe joint. Pain in the ball of the foot at the base of the affected toe.
First push up on the bottom of the metatarsal head associated with the affected toe and see if the toe straightens out. If it does, then an orthotic could correct the problem, usually with a
metatarsal pad. If the toe does not straighten out when the metatarsal head is pushed up, then that indicates that contracture in the capsule and ligaments (capsule contracts because the joint was in
the wrong position for too long) of the MTP joint has set in and surgery is required. Orthotics are generally required post-surgically.
Non Surgical Treatment
Early on, when a hammertoe first starts and is still flexible, here are some ways it might be treated. Your healthcare provider may splint or tape the toe into the correct, normal position. You can
use your fingers to stretch your toes and toe joints toward a more normal position. Exercise your toes by trying to pick up marbles with them or by wadding up a towel on the floor with your toes.
Padding may be used to change where your weight falls when you walk on the foot.
If your toe is not bendable, your doctor may recommend surgery. The type of surgery that will be performed will depend on the severity of the condition. You should expect blood and urine studies
before the procedure, as well as x-rays of your feet. Your doctor will inject either a local or regional anesthetic. If your toe has some flexibility, the doctor may be able to straighten it by
simply making an incision in the toe to release or lengthen the tendon. If the toe is not flexible, your doctor will probably make the same incision to release the tendon, but he or she may also
remove some pieces of the bone so that the bone can be straightened. A k-wire is placed in the toe to help hold it straight while it is healing. This is taken out after about four weeks.
Some tips on how to avoid getting hammertoes when wearing high heels has to do with the shoes that you choose and what you do to your feet after you wear the high heels. A closed toe shoe like a
stiletto pump is going to put more pressure on the front of the foot, forcing the toes to contract in and start forming the hammertoes. Women who start having hammertoes usually complain about pain
in their feet when they wear the hammertoes
closed shoe, usually in the winter season, and when in the warmer
weather and they wear the open-toed shoes, there?s much less pressure on the front of the foot and they experience much less pain.