The term hammertoes
describes three unique contracture deformities of the
toes. The deformities differ by the location of contracture in each joint of the toe. The three deformities include hammer toe, claw toe and mallet toe. Hammer toes may be flexible or rigid. Hammer
toes are most common on the lesser toes (2-5) and may affect one or more toes simultaneously. Hallux malleus is the term used to described a hammer toe of the great toe. Hallux malleus is often found
as an isolated foot problem. Hammer toes are found equally in men and women. The onset of hammer toes is between the ages of 30 and 80 years of age.
Hammer toes result from a muscle imbalance which causes the ligaments and tendons to become unnaturally tight. This results in the joint curling downward. Arthritis can also lead to many different
forefoot deformities, including hammer toes.
If you have any of these symptoms, do not assume it is due to hammer toe. Talk to your doctor about symptoms such as a toe that curls down, corns on the top of a toe, calluses on the sole of the foot
or bottom of the toe, pain in the middle joint of a toe, discomfort on the top of a toe, difficulty finding any shoes that fit comfortably, cramping in a toe, and sometimes also the foot and leg,
difficult or painful motion of a toe joint, pain in the ball of the foot or at the base of a toe.
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
What will a doctor do? Treat any foot complaints such as corns, calluses by periodically reducing the lesion and applying appropriate pads and dressings. Recommend the hammertoe
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. The doctor may give footwear
advice. In severe cases, corrective surgery may be necessary. The doctor may recommend orthosis to correct a mechanical complaint of the foot, such as 3/4 length silicone insoles.
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.
There should be at least one-half inch between the tip of your longest toe and the front of the shoe. Never buy shoes that feel tight and expect them to stretch with wearing. If you have prominent
areas on your feet such as hammertoes and bunions, avoid shoes with a lot of stitching or multiple pieces of fabric, as these stitched areas tend not to stretch to accommodate various toe