Patients and doctors often refer to all forms of toe abnormalities as a Hammer toe
. There are in fact four main forms of toe abnormalities,
hammer toes, claw toes, mallet toes and trigger toes. A hammertoe can be best described as an abnormal contraction or "buckling" of a toe. This occurs due to a partial or complete dislocation of one
of the joints that form the toe. As the toe continues to be deformed, it will press up against the shoe and may cause corns.
People who have a high-arched feet have an increased chance of hammer toes occurring. Also, patients hammertoes
with bunion deformities notice the second toe elevating and becoming hammered to make room for the
big toe that is moving toward it. Some patients damage the ligament that holds the toe in place at the bottom of the joint that connects the toe and foot. When this ligament (plantar plate) is
disrupted or torn, the toe floats upward at this joint. Hammer toes also occur in women wearing ill-fitting shoes or high heels, and children wearing shoes they have outgrown.
The most obvious sign of hammertoes are bent toes, other symptoms may include pain and stiffness during movement of the toe. Painful corns on the tops of the toe or toes from rubbing against the top
of the shoe's toe box. Painful calluses on the bottoms of the toe or toes. Pain on the bottom of the ball of the foot. Redness and swelling at the joints.
Some questions your doctor may ask of you include, when did you first begin having foot problems? How much pain are your feet or toes causing you? Where is the pain located? What, if anything, seems
to improve your symptoms? What, if anything, appears to worsen your symptoms? What kind of shoes do you normally wear? Your doctor can diagnose hammertoe or mallet toe by examining your foot. Your
doctor may also order X-rays to further evaluate the bones and joints of your feet and toes.
Non Surgical Treatment
Treatment for a hammertoe usually depends on the stage of the hammertoe and the cause of the condition. If your toe is still bendable, your doctor may suggest conservative care-relieving pressure
with padding and strapping, or proper shoes that have a deep toe box and are of adequate length and width. Early intervention can often prevent the need for surgery.
Toe Relocation procedures are ancillary procedures that are performed in conjunction with one of the two methods listed about (joint resection or joint mending). When the toe is deformed (buckled) at
the ball of the foot, then this joint often needs to be re-positioned along with ligament releases/repair to get the toe straight. A temporary surgical rod is needed to hold the toe aligned while the
The American Podiatric Medical Association offers the following tips for preventing foot pain. Don't ignore foot pain, it's not normal. Inspect feet regularly. Wash feet regularly, especially between
the toes, and dry them completely. Trim toenails straight across, but not too short. Make sure shoes fit properly.