is a contracture-or bending-of the toe at the first joint of the digit, called the
proximal interphalangeal joint. This bending causes the toe to appear like an upside-down V when looked at from the side. Any toe can be involved, but the condition usually affects the second through
fifth toes, known as the lesser digits. Hammertoes are more common to females than males.
But what causes the imbalance of the tendons and muscles in the first place so that they begin to pull and bend the joint? A bad fitting shoe could be the cause but it usually isn?t the primary
cause. Many people are genetically predisposed to hammertoe, and the condition begins to progress more quickly when they wear shoes that fit poorly, for example pointy toes, high heels, or shoes that
are too short. Hammertoe may also be caused by damage to the joint as a result of trauma.
People who have painful hammertoes visit their podiatrist because their affected toe is either rubbing on the end their shoe (signaling a Hammer toe
contracted flexor tendon), rubbing on the top of their shoe (signaling a contracted extensor tendon), or rubbing on another toe and
causing a painful buildup of thick skin, known as a corn.
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
Non-surgical methods for hammer toes (claw toes) are aimed at decreasing symptoms (i.e., pain and/or calluses) and/or limiting the progression into a larger problem. Simple treatments patients can do
are wear supportive shoes. Use an arch support. Wear shoes with a wide toe box. Modify activities. Spot stretch shoes. Periodic callus care.
Hammertoe surgery is performed when conservative measures have been exhausted and pain or deformity still persists. The surgery is performed on an outpatient basis. It typically required about one
hour of time. An incision is placed over the inter-phalangeal joint. Once the bone is exposed, the end portion of the bone is removed. Your surgeon may then use pins or other fixation devices to
assist in straightening the toe. These devices may be removed at a later date if necessary. Recovery for hammertoe surgery is approximately 10 to 14 days. You are able to walk immediately following
the surgery in a surgical shoe. Swelling may be present but is managed as needed. Physical therapy is used to help reduce swelling in the toe or toes after surgery. Most of these toe surgeries can be
performed in the office or the outpatient surgery under local anesthesia.
It?s important to understand that preventing hammertoe can sometimes be difficult, since most symptoms do not appear until the condition is well developed. Nonetheless, here are some tips to help you
prevent hammertoe. Do not wear shoes that are too narrow or short. Check your children?s shoe size often to ensure that their shoes still fit correctly. Wear comfortable shoes that fit you properly.
Remember that your feet widen and lengthen with age.