is a toe that is bent because of a muscle imbalance around the toe joints. The imbalance causes
the toe to bend at one or more joints, pushing the middle of the toe upward in a claw-like position. If you notice such changes, it is important to seek proper treatment. Hammer toes never get better
without some type of intervention and the sooner it is treated, the better the outcome.
This condition is greatly influenced by the footwear we choose. Ladies who wear high heels are a perfect example. High heels force the toes to overlap and bend at the middle Hammer toes
joint of the toe, resulting in hammertoe. But high heels are not the only culprits. Anyone who
wears shoes that are too tight is increasing their risk of developing hammertoe. This progressive condition, which will only get better with treatment, can cause pain as the toes are forced to bend
The most common symptoms of hammertoes include. The toe is bent upward at the middle toe joint, so that the top of this joint rubs against the top of the shoe. The remainder of the toe is bent
downward. Pain upon pressure at the top of the bent toe from footwear. The 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. This occurs because the contracted digit puts pressure on the metatarsal head creating callouse and pressure on the ball
of the foot.
Most health care professionals can diagnose hammertoe simply by examining your toes and feet. X-rays of the feet are not needed to diagnose hammertoe, but they may be useful to look for signs of some
types of arthritis (such as rheumatoid arthritis) or other disorders that can cause hammertoe. If the deformed toe is very painful, your doctor may recommend that you have a fluid sample withdrawn
from the joint with a needle so the fluid can be checked for signs of infection or gout (arthritis from crystal deposits).
Non Surgical Treatment
Pad it. Mild cases of hammertoe can be treated with corn pads or felt pads available in the pharmacy. Toe caps, the small, padded sleeves that fit around the tip of the toe, may relieve hammer toe
pain. Change your shoes. Wear wide shoes with resilient soles. Avoid shoes with pointed toes. Exercise. Certain exercises such as moving and stretching your toe gently with your hands and picking
small or soft objects such as marbles or towels can keep your toe joints flexible. Also, while you are watching television or reading, you can also put a towel flat under your feet and use your toes
to crumple it. This simple exercise can stretch and strengthen your muscles. Use ice. If your hammer toe becomes painful, applying an ice pack several times a day can help relieve the soreness and
Take medications. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medicines (also called NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen or naproxen may be helpful in minimizing pain and inflammation. Use orthotic devices. Place a custom
orthotic device in your shoe. This will help control the muscle/tendon imbalance.
Curative treatment of hammertoes varies depending upon the severity of the deformity. When the hammertoe is flexible, a simple tendon release in the toe works well. The recovery is rapid often
requiring nothing more that a single stitch and a Band-Aid. Of course if several toes are done at the same time, the recovery make take a bit longer.
Walking barefoot increases the risk for injury and infection. Being on your feet throughout the day can cause them to swell, this is the best time to buy shoes to get a better fit. Do not buy shoes
that feel tight. Do not buy shoes that ride up and down your heel as you walk. The ball of your foot should fit into the widest part of the shoe. Remember, the higher the heel the less safe the shoe
will be. Avoid shoes with pointed or narrow toes. If the shoes hurt, do not wear them. If you start noticing the beginning signs of hammer toes, you may still be able to prevent the tendons from
tightening by soaking your feet every day in warm water, wearing toe friendly shoes, and performing foot exercises such as stretching your toes and ankles. A simple exercise such as placing a small
towel on the floor and then picking it up using only your toes can help to restore the flexibility of tendons.