is a condition which causes one or more of the smaller toes
to become bent upwards. The toe can be straightened but if ignored may become a permanent deformity. Each of the 4 smaller toes consist of 3 bones called phalanges, forming two interphalangeal
joints. The toe bends at the proximal or first interphalangeal joint. Initially it can be straightened, but if left untreated, this can become a permanent deformity.
Many disorders can affect the joints in the toes, causing pain and preventing the foot from functioning as it should. A mallet toe occurs when the joint at the end of the toe cannot straighten.
Excessive rubbing of the mallet 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. Arthritis can also lead to many forefoot deformities including mallet toes. Mallet toes can cause extreme discomfort, and can be aggravated if restrictive or improperly fitting footwear
is worn for a prolonged period of time.
The symptoms of a hammer toe include the following. Pain at the top of the bent toe upon pressure from footwear. Formation of corns on the top of the joint. Redness and swelling at the joint
contracture. Restricted or painful motion of the toe joint. Pain in the ball of the foot at the base of the affected toe.
The earlier a hammertoe is diagnosed, the better the prognosis and treatment options. Your doctor will be able to diagnose your hammertoe with a simple examination of the foot and your footwear. He
or she may take an x-ray to check the severity of the condition. You may also be asked about your symptoms, your normal daily activities, and your medical and family history.
Non Surgical Treatment
People with a hammer toe benefit from wearing shoes in which the toe box is made of a flexible material and is wide enough and high enough to provide adequate room for the toes. High-heeled shoes
should be avoided, because they tend to force the toes into a narrow, flat toe box. A doctor may recommend an insert (orthotic) for the shoe to help reduce friction and pressure on the hammer toe.
Wearing properly fitted shoes may reduce pain and inflammation. It may also prevent ulcers from developing and help existing ulcers heal. However, the hammer toe does not disappear.
The technique the surgeon applies during the surgery depends on how much flexibility the person's affected toes still retain. If some flexibility has still been preserved in their affected toes, the
hammer toes might be corrected through making a small incision into the toe so the surgeon can manipulate the tendon that is forcing the person's toes into a curved position. If, however, the
person's toes have become completely rigid, the surgeon might have to do more than re-aligning the person's tendons. Some pieces of bone may have to be removed so the person's toe has the hammertoe
ability to straighten out. If this is the case, some pins are attached
onto the person's foot afterwards to fix their bones into place while the injured tissue heals.
In some cases foot problems may present at birth, many foot problems such as hammer toes can be prevented. Hammer toe prevention can be a simple process, such as, checking your feet regularly and
wearing the right shoes for your feet. Good circulation is also an essential part of foot health and hammer toe prevention. Taking a warm foot bath or giving yourself a foot massage are great ways of
keeping your feet healthy.