What is a Hammer Toe?
“Hammer toe” describes the condition when the 2nd, 3rd and/or 4th toes bend downward, usually causing calluses and pain.
You may already know the definition of a bunion and bone spur, but what is a hammer toe? A hammer toe is a shortening deformity that occurs in one or both of the joints in the little toes. The most common toes that get affected are the second and third toes. This kind of abnormal bending forces the toes to curl under the feet and causes a great deal of foot pain, especially when one is wearing shoes.
What are the Possible Causes of Hammer Toe?
- High heels
- Shoes with pointed toes
- Tight shoes
- Genetics (hereditary)
- Other foot problems such as
Hammer toe is when your toe curls downwards instead of pointing straight forward, usually due to external forces such as tight shoes, shoes with pointed toes or high heels. This might be present from birth, but in the typical case, it comes from wearing shoes that are too tight.
The muscle, tendon and/or ligament imbalance causes the toe to bend downward. This degeneration might also occur due to a disease like arthritis. Other possible reasons for this defect include trauma and tightened ligament or tendons in the foot. Whatever the original cause, the mechanical imbalances tend to increase over time.
Hammer Toe Diagnosis
- Second, third and/or fourth toes curled in, pointing downward
- Toe joints appear swollen
- Toe pain while walking
- Corns and/or caluses on toes
- Open sores, inflamation, redness
- See a qualified professional for a definitive diagnosis
Non-Surgical Hammer Toe Treatment
- Physical Therapy: Specialized stretching and muscle therapy might help straighten the toes.
- Foot Pads: Protective pads for corns and calluses might provide temporary relief. Medicated pads are not recommended because they contain some acid that might have a bad effect.
- Medication: Common over-the-counter pain releivers might offer temporary pain releif.
- Orthotic Device: These devices help to correct the imbalance in the tendons and muscles.
Hammer toe can be treated with noninvasive methods, but if you leave them untreated, they may become rigid. In this case, hammer toe surgery is the only solution.
Hammer Toe Surgery
Minimally Invasive hammer toe surgery is a no-brainer because it offers minimal pain and a quick recovery time. Why suffer pain and rigid toes when you can be in and out of surgery in less than two hours, and drive yourself home? Ideally, surgery should be done before rigidity sets in. Age, activity level and the number of toes effected are determining factors for surgery.