Many disorders can affect the joints in the toes, causing pain and preventing the foot from functioning as it should. A Hammer toes
occurs when the joint at the end of the toe cannot straighten. Excessive rubbing of
the hammer toe against the top of the shoe can lead to pain and the development of a corn. The tip of the toe is often turned down against the shoe causing pressure and discomfort.
Hammer toe may also be caused by other medical conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, or stroke because these forms of illnesses involve affectation of the person's muscles and
nerves. Diabetes is also a causative factor for hammer toes due to diabetic neuropathy, which often times accompanies advanced instances of diabetes. Injury to a person's toes may also cause hammer
toes, particularly if the injury involves breaking of the toes. In some instances, hammer toes may be hereditary. Some people may be genetically predisposed to develop the hammertoes
condition because of the natural structure of their bodies.
A soft corn, or heloma molle, may exist in the web space between toes. This is more commonly caused by an exostosis, which is basically an extra growth of bone possibly due to your foot structure. As
this outgrowth of excessive bone rubs against other toes, there is friction between the toes and a corn forms for your protection.
Hammertoes are progressive, they don?t go away by themselves and usually they will get worse over time. However, not all cases are alike, some hammertoes progress more rapidly than others. Once your
foot and ankle surgeon has evaluated your hammertoes, a treatment plan can be developed that is suited to your needs.
Non Surgical Treatment
The treatment options vary with the type and severity of each hammertoe, although identifying the deformity early in its development is important to avoid surgery. Podiatric medical attention should
be sought at the first indication of pain and discomfort because, if left untreated, hammertoes tend to become rigid, making a nonsurgical treatment less of an option. Your podiatric physician will
examine and X-ray the affected area and recommend a treatment plan specific to your condition.
For the surgical correction of a rigid hammertoe, the surgical procedure consists of removing the damaged skin where the corn is located. Then a small section of bone is removed at the level of the
rigid joint. The sutures remain in place for approximately ten days. During this period of time it is important to keep the area dry. Most surgeons prefer to leave the bandage in place until the
patient's follow-up visit, so there is no need for the patient to change the bandages at home. The patient is returned to a stiff-soled walking shoe in about two weeks. It is important to try and
stay off the foot as much as possible during this time. Excessive swelling of the toe is the most common patient complaint. In severe cases of hammertoe deformity a pin may be required to hold the
toe in place and the surgeon may elect to fuse the bones in the toe. This requires several weeks of recovery.
Plainly put, most toe deformities are caused by footwear. If you wish to avoid bunions or hammertoes, or works towards reversing them, please choose your footwear that has a low heel, and is wide
enough in the toebox to spread you toes. Your podiatrist or therapist can help with the manipulation exercises. Bunion splints are available.