Many disorders can affect the joints in the toes, causing pain and preventing the foot from functioning as it should. A Hammer toes
occurs when the joint at the end of the toe cannot straighten. Excessive rubbing of the
hammer 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.
The incorrect position of the person's toes inside of their shoes also causes the formation of calluses or corns on the surfaces of their toes which are constantly bent as they are wearing
inappropriate shoes because the surfaces are consistently rubbing against the hard materials of the interior of the shoes causing regular friction.
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.
A hammertoe is usually diagnosed with a physical inspection of your toe. Imaging tests, such as X-rays, may be ordered if you have had a bone, muscle, or ligament injury in your toe.
Non Surgical Treatment
For hammertoes that are still flexible, a podiatrist might recommend padding or taping the toes to relieve pain and orthotic inserts for shoes to minimize pressure and keep the toe properly aligned.
Anti-inflammatory drugs or corticosteroid injections can relieve pain and inflammation. For more advanced cases of hammertoe, a podiatrist might recommend a surgical procedure to cut the tendon,
allowing the toe to straighten. For hammertoes that have become rigid, a more complicated surgery might be needed, during which the podiatrist removes part of the bone at the deformed joint to allow
it to straighten.
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.
Skin creams can help maintain skin softness and pliability. A pumice stone or loofah sponge Hammer toe
can help get rid of dead skin. Taking a warm footbath for 10 minutes two or three
times a week will keep the feet relaxed and help prevent mild foot pain caused by fatigue. Adding 1/2 cup of Epsom salts increases circulation and adds other benefits. Taking footbaths only when the
feet are painful is not as helpful.