What is a hammertoe?
Patients 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.
Appearance of hammertoes
There are two joints in the lesser toes
and one joint in the large toe. If the deformity occurs in the lesser toes
and in the joint nearest the nail, it is called a mallet toe.
If the deformity occurs in the lesser toes
and in the joint nearest the foot, it is called a hammertoe (refer to
The diagram above shows a hammertoe.
The above picture shows a claw toe
Symptoms of hammertoes
A hammer toe may be painful, especially
when irritated by a shoe.
All four toe conditions may cause cramps
in the toes, foot and leg due to the abnormal
function of the tendons in
If a mallet toe has occurred, you are
likely to suffer from a corn at the end of the toe.
A hammertoe may cause a corn on the top of
the toe (refer to the picture below).
The above picture shows a hard corn on the
top of a hammertoe.
Infections and ulcers can also occur.
In severe cases a mallet toe, trigger toe,
claw toe or a hammer toe may create a downward pressure on the foot, which
can result in hard skin and corns on the soles of the feet.
In appropriate shoes.
Flat feet can result in hammertoes; this
is due to poor mechanics off the foot.
High arched feet can also result in
A major cause is in hereditary, all the
toe conditions mentioned could be acquired due in hereditary factors.
Bunions are a major cause of hammertoes.
Claw toes are usually the result of a shoe
that is too short. For many people, the second toe is actually longer than
the great toe, and if shoes are sized to fit the great toe, the second
(and maybe even the third toe) will have to bend to fit into the shoe.
Shoes that are pointed make matters even worse. Combine pointed shoes with
high heels; the foot is under similar pressure as if it was constantly
being pushed downhill into a wall.
Rheumatoid arthritis can also lead to
bunions, which in turn can lead to hammer toes.
can you do for hammertoes?
Purchase wide fitted, low heeled shoes,
running shoes are ideal.
Make sure that stockings, tights and socks
are not too constrictive.
Non-medicated pads may relieve pressure away from corns and hard skin.
Applying an appropriate moisturizing cream will help to keep the skin
Purchase high quality silicone products
such as the the silicone toe prop to cure this condition.
you should not do
Ignore the pain or toe abnormality.
Do not carry out any bathroom surgery, such as cutting a corn with a
will a doctor do?
Treat any foot complaints such as corns,
calluses by periodically reducing the lesion and applying appropriate pads
Recommend the silicone toe prop.
If an infection is present, then
anti-septic dressings, antibiotics and pads to redistribute pressure away
from the lesion may be necessary.
In the case of a mallet toe, trigger toe
or claw toe. If a corn occurs at the end of the toe, a silicone or leather
prop may be used to straighten the toe.
In a hammertoe deformity, a silicone prop
to redistribute pressure away from a corn may be necessary.
doctor may give footwear advice.
In severe cases, corrective surgery may be necessary.
doctor may recommend orthosis to
correct a mechanical complaint of the foot, such as 3/4 length silicone
What is the surgery like?
Surgically correcting a
hammertoe is very technical and difficult, and requires a surgeon with
superior capabilities and experience. The operation can be done at our
office or the hospital with local anesthetic. After making a small
incision, the deformity is reduced and the tendons are realigned at the
joint. You will be able to go home the same day with a special shoe!
Is surgery for me?
If you are sick and
tired of not fitting your shoes, you can no
longer get relief from pads,
orthopedic shoes or
pedicures, and have corns that are ugly, sensitive and painful, then you
certainly may be a good surgical
candidate. In order to have this surgery, you can not
have poor circulation and
and must have a clean
bill of health.
No two cases are the
same. We would be happy to discuss your unique foot condition.
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