What are hammertoes, mallet toes and claw toes? Often the words are used interchangeably to mean an abnormally contracted toe like the drawing above. Technically speaking, a "hammertoes
" is the name for a toe that is contracted at the first toe joint. If it's
contracted at the second toe joint it is called a "mallet toe". IIf a toe is contracted at both toe joints, it is called a "claw toe". Each of these conditions can be quite uncomfortable and are
Most hammertoes are caused by wearing ill-fitting, tight or high-heeled shoes over a long period of time. Shoes that don't fit well can crowd the toes, putting pressure on the middle toes and causing
them to curl downward. The condition may be more likely when the second toe is longer than the first toe or when the arch of the foot is flat. Hammertoe can also be present at birth (congenital).
Hammertoe also can be caused by a bunion, which is the knobby bump that sometimes develops at the side of the big toe. A bunion causes the big toe to bend toward the other toes. The big toe can then
overlap and crowd the smaller toes. Occasionally, a hammertoe is inherited or caused by arthritis in the toe joint.
Common symptoms of hammertoes include pain or irritation of the affected toe when wearing shoes. corns and calluses (a buildup of skin) on the toe, between two toes, or on the ball of the foot. Corns
are caused by constant friction against the shoe. They may be soft or hard, depending upon their location. Inflammation, redness, or a burning sensation. Contracture of the toe. In more severe cases
of hammertoe, open sores may form.
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
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 hammertoes
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.
Surgery to correct for a hammertoe may be performed as a day procedure. There are several different types of procedures that can be used depending on the foot structure and if the deformity is
flexible or rigid.
Although these following preventative tips may be able to reverse a painful bunion or hammertoe deformity, they are more effective when applied to young people, and are less effective the longer a
person has progressed with their bunion or hammertoe deformity. This is because the joints in our bodies get used to the positions they are most frequently held in, and our feet are no different,
with our 12 to 15 hours a day in restrictive footwear, with tapering toeboxes, heel elevation, and toespring.