is a deformity of the second, third or fourth toe
in which the toe
becomes bent at the middle joint; hence, it resembles a hammer. Claw toe
and mallet toe
are related conditions. While a hammer toe
is contracted at the first toe
joint, a mallet toe
is contracted at the second toe
joint, and a claw toe
is contracted at both joints. According to the 2012 National Foot Health Assessment conducted by the NPD Group for the Institute for Preventive Foot Health, 3 percent of U.S. adults age 21 and older (about 7 million people) have experienced hammer toe
or claw toe
. The condition is significantly more prevalent in females than in males.
It is possible to be born with a hammer toe
, however many people develop the deformity later in life. Common causes include tightened tendons that cause the toe
downward. Nerve injuries or problems with the spinal cord. Stubbing, jamming
or breaking a toe
. Having a stroke. Being a diabetic. Having a second toe
that is longer than the big toe
. Wearing high heels or tight shoes that crowd the toes and don?t allow them to lie flat
Well-developed hammertoes are distinctive due to the abnormal bent shape of the toe
. However, there are many other common symptoms. Some symptoms may be present before the toe
becomes overly bent or fixed in the contracted position. Often, before the toe
becomes permanently contracted, there will be pain or irritation over the top of the toe
, particularly over the joint. The symptoms are pronounced while wearing shoes due to the top of the toe
rubbing against the upper portion of the shoe. Often, there is a significant amount of friction between the toe
and the shoe or between the toe
and the toes on either side of it. The corns may be soft or hard, depending on their location and age. The affected toe
may also appear red with irritated skin. In more severe cases, blisters or open sores may form. Those with diabetes should take extra care if they develop any of these symptoms, as they could lead to further complications.
Although hammertoes are readily apparent, to arrive at a diagnosis the foot and ankle surgeon will obtain a thorough history of your symptoms and examine your foot. During the physical examination, the doctor may attempt to reproduce your symptoms by manipulating your foot and will study the contractures of the toes. In addition, the foot and ankle surgeon may take x-rays to determine the degree of the deformities and assess any changes that may have occurred.
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 hammertoe
of an option. Your podiatric physician will examine and X-ray
the affected area and recommend a treatment plan specific to your condition.
Sometimes when the joints are removed the two bones
become one as they are fused in a straightened position. Many times one toe
will be longer than another and a piece of bone is removed to bring the toes in a more normal length in relation to each other. Sometimes tendons will be lengthened, or soft tissue around the joints will be cut or rebalanced to fix the deformity. Angular corrections may also be needed. The surgeon may place fixation in your foot as it heals which may include a pin, or wires.