A Hammer toes
is a deformity of the middle joint of a toe,
producing a clenched, clawlike appearance in the affected digit. The tendons in the toe become abnormally contracted, causing the toe to bend downward, which, in turn, forces the joint to protrude
upward. A mallet toe is a deformity in which the end joint of a toe becomes bent downward, so that the toe curls underneath itself. In either case the affected joints are stiff, and often the toe
cannot be straightened out. Constant rubbing against shoes may furthermore cause a painful corn (a round patch of rough, thickened, calloused skin) to develop over the joint or at the tip of the
affected toe. Hammer and mallet toes may occur in any toe, although the second toe is the most common site. These deformities are often painful and limit the toe?s range of motion-sometimes requiring
As described above, the main reason people develop hammertoes is improper footwear, or footwear that is too short for the toes. Shoes that do not allow our toes to lie flat are the biggest cause of
hammertoes, though there are others, including genetics, injury or trauma in which the toe is jammed or broken. Diseases that affect the nerves and muscles, such as arthritis. Abnormal foot mechanics
due to nerve or muscle damage, causing an imbalance of the flexor and extensor tendons of the toe. Systematic diseases such as arthritis can also lead to problems such as hammertoe. Some people are
born with hammertoes, while others are more prone to developing the condition due to genetics. If you have ever broken a toe, you know there is not much that can be done for it. It is one of the only
bones in the body that heals without the use of a cast. A broken toe may be splinted, however, which may help prevent a hammertoe from forming.
If you have any of these symptoms, do not assume it is due to hammer toe. Talk to your doctor about symptoms such as a toe that curls down, corns on the top of a toe, calluses on the sole of the foot
or bottom of the toe, pain in the middle joint of a toe, discomfort on the top of a toe, difficulty finding any shoes that fit comfortably, cramping in a toe, and sometimes also the foot and leg,
difficult or painful motion of a toe joint, pain in the ball of the foot or at the base of a toe.
Your doctor is very likely to be able to diagnose your hammertoe simply by examining your foot. Even before that, he or she will probably ask about your family and personal medical history and
evaluate your gait as you walk and the types of shoes you wear. You'll be asked about your symptoms, when they started and when they occur. You may also be asked to flex your toe so that your doctor
can get an idea of your range of motion. He or she may order x-rays in order to better define your deformity.
Non Surgical Treatment
Wear wide shoes with plenty of room in the toes and resilient soles. Avoid wearing shoes with pointed toes. Commercially available felt pads or cushions may ease pressure from the shoe on the toe.
Toe caps (small, padded sleeves that fit around the tip of the toe) may relieve the pain of hammer toe. Do toe exercises, to help toe muscles become stronger and more flexible.
Arch supports or an orthotic shoe insert prescribed by your doctor or podiatrist may help to redistribute weight on the foot. These devices do not cure the problem but may ease hammertoe
the symptoms of either hammer toe or mallet toe.
Surgically correcting a hammertoe is very technical and difficult, and requires a surgeon with superior capabilities and experience. The operation can be done at our office or the hospital with local
anesthetic. After making a small incision, the deformity is reduced and the tendons are realigned at the joint. You will be able to go home the same day with a special shoe! If you are sick and tired
of not fitting your shoes, you can no longer get relief from pads, orthopedic shoes or pedicures, and have corns that are ugly, sensitive and painful, then you certainly may be a good surgical
candidate. In order to have this surgery, you can not have poor circulation and and must have a clean bill of health.
Certain exercises such as moving and stretching your toe gently with your hands and picking up small or soft objects such as marbles or towels can keep your toe joints flexible, simple exercises can
stretch and strengthen your muscles. Limit high-heel use, well-designed flat shoes will be more comfortable than high heels. Don't wear shoes that are too short or too narrow, or too shallow, this is
especially important for children going through periods of rapid growth, the toe area should be high enough so that it doesn't rub against the top of your toes.