Hammer Toe

What Does Hammertoe Look Like?

The PIP Joint/s (proximal interphalangeal joints) of the toes will be pointed upward, when you look down at them they will be waiving at you. Usually with a corn or callus on the top. The end of the toe is the hammer that hits the ground.

The Claw, Mallet and Curly Toe are all typically caused by the same things just affecting different joints in the toes. View the Image above to see the visual differences. Symptoms and Cures are almost identical.

What you might feel with Hammer, Claw, Mallet and Curly Toe?

  • During movement of the toe, Pain and stiffness may be felt
  • Since the top of the toe/s rub on shoes, there are often painful corns and calluses
  • The bottom of the toe that hits the ground, there are often painful corns and calluses
  • Pain may develop on the bottom or the ball of the foot
  • Inflammation, Redness and swelling in the toe joints often occurs
  • In a diabetic the hammertoes may be susceptible to ulcers and infections.

What Caused My Hammertoe?

Hammertoe can be hereditary or caused by a severely stubbed toe but just like bunions women are much more prone to acquire hammertoe than men. It is said that as high as 4 to 5 times as likely. This is because of the shoes women wear. Squishing a foot into a shoe that is tight and narrow shoe, cramps the toes upward. Eventually the toe can become stuck like this. High heels further exasperate the condition, the toes are under more pressure and crammed forward even further.

Other Factors:

  • Highly arched feet.
  • Rheumatoid arthritis.
  • Tendon imbalance. When the foot cannot function normally, the tendons may stretch or tighten to compensate and lead to toe deformities.


What Can I Do About Having Hammertoe?

Remember when I said, “That toes could become stuck in that position”. If the toes cannot be straightened forward there is no self-help solutions but you can treat the symptoms and hopefully become pain free. First step is to get a pair of therapeutic shoes, ones that are called ultra-depth. Explain to our Certified Pedorthist what condition you have and they will tailor an Orthotic Insert to your specific needs.  PodiatryNetwork.com says, “Functional orthotics can be thought of as contact lenses for your feet. They correct a number of foot problems that are caused by an abnormally functioning foot. Our feet, much like our eyes, change with time. Functional orthotics slow down or halt this gradual change in the foot. Often when orthotics are used for flexible hammertoes, the toes will overtime straighten out and correct themselves. Calf stretching exercises are also helpful. Calf stretching can help to overcome part of the muscle imbalance that causes the hammertoe”.

Therapeutic Shoes will allow the toes to move forward and or stop rubbing on the shoe. This will also help the corns and calluses to go away. Sandals in the summer, again look at therapeutic sandals they have much mort support. Padding and Taping is available to protect the boney top-part of the hammertoe as a means of relieving pain, and to change their current position. This will help to relieve the pressure that led to the hammertoe’s development. Medication. Anti-inflammatory drugs such as aspirin and Ibuprofen/Aleve can help deal with inflammation, swelling and pain caused by your hammertoe. Cortisone may be injected into the joints, this will relieve the pain temporarily.

Don’t be vain, therapeutic shoes are more stylish than ever and pricing is comparable to store bought shoes. These aren’t Granny Shoes anymore.

I Can’t Stop The Pain?

The good news is that toe surgery has a high success rate and is usually done on an outpatient basis. The bad news is that it can take a while to heal. Any surgery on the foot is prone to extended swelling because the blood is drawn into the feet. In severe cases swelling can last a year. Full recovery time is typically 1-3 months.

Flexible Hammertoe (one that can be straightened forward): A procedure of transferring the tendons from the bottom of the toe to the top of the toe where it is sticking up. This helps pull the bent joint into a straight position.

Fixed Hammertoe: (when the hammertoe has become fixed (stiff).

Joint resection: The end of the toe bone is cut and removed, this allow the toe to straighten. Tendons and ligaments may be cut to help straighten the toe. Then temporary pins (removed 3-4 weeks post surgery) are used to hold the toe straight.

Fusion:  In this procedure, the ends of the toe bone are cut and the toe is straightened. Pins, screws or other implants can be used to keep the toe straight (fusion process) while the bone ends heal together. The ligaments and tendons are also cut to help straighten the toe.

If you have a toe ailment like hammertoe, claw toe, mallet toe, curly toe, or have had surgery please share with us, your experiences.

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