is a condition in which the toe is bent in a claw-like position. It can be
present in more than one toe but is most common in the second toe.
is described as a deformity in which the toes bend downward with the toe
joint usually enlarged. Over time, the joint enlarges and stiffens as it
rubs against shoes. Other foot structures involved include the overlying
skin and blood vessels and nerves connected to the involved toes.
Causes & symptoms
shortening of tendons responsible for the control and movement of the
affected toe or toes cause hammertoe. Top portions of the toes become
callused from the friction produced against the inside of shoes. This common
foot problem often results from improper fit of footwear. This is especially
the case with high-heeled shoes placing pressure on the front part of the
foot that compresses the smaller toes tightly together. The condition
frequently stems from muscle imbalance, and usually leaves the affected
individual with impaired balance.
medical history and physical exam by a physician is always necessary for the
proper diagnosis of hammertoe and other foot conditions. Because the
condition involves bony deformity, x rays can help to confirm the diagnosis.
proper footwear and stockings with plenty of room in the toe region can
provide treatment for hammertoe. Stretching exercises may be helpful in
lengthening the excessively tight tendons.
cases, where conservative treatment is unsuccessful, surgery may be
recommended. The tendons that attach to the involved toes are located and an
incision is made to free the connective tissue to the foot bones. Additional
incisions are made so the toes no longer bend in a downward fashion. The
middle joints of the affected toes are connected together permanently with
surgical hardware such as pins and wire sutures. The incision is then closed
with fine sutures. These sutures are removed approximately seven to ten days
soft tissue and joint treatments offered by chiropractic and massage therapy
may be useful to decrease the tightness of the affected structures.
early, hammertoe can be treated non-surgically. If surgery becomes
necessary, surgical risks are minimal with the overall outcome providing
comfortable shoes that fit well can prevent many foot ailments. Foot width
may increase with age. Feet should always be measured before buying shoes.
The upper part of the shoes should be made of a soft, flexible material to
match the shape of the foot. Shoes made of leather can reduce the
possibility of skin irritations. Soles should provide solid footing and not
be slippery. Thick soles lessen pressure when walking on hard surfaces.
Low-heeled shoes are more comfortable, safer, and less damaging than
Call Your Doctor
If severe pain in the big toe came on suddenly
If you have not been
diagnosed with gout.
- If severe pain
prevents walking or daily activities.
- If the big toe begins to overlap the second toe.
- If you have diabetes, poor circulation, or peripheral vascular disease.
- If pain does not respond to home treatment in two to three weeks.