is often a harmless and painless condition. Although
the toe may be curled permanently, hammertoe should not cause any long-term problems other than a more difficult time finding shoes that fit. If hammertoe is treated and preventive measures are
followed, the condition should not return. Wearing tight or constricting shoes can cause hammertoe to return.
Many people develop hammertoe because they wear shoes that are too tight. Shoes with narrow toe boxes squeeze the toes together, forcing some to bend. This causes the toe muscles to contract. If the
toes are forced into this cramped position too often, the muscles may permanently tighten, preventing the toes from extending. Chronic hammertoe can also cause the long bones that connect the toes to
the foot, called metatarsals, to move out of position. The misaligned metatarsal bones may pinch a nerve running between them, which can cause a type of nerve irritation called a neuroma.
The most obvious symptoms of this injury will be the the middle toe joint is permanently bent at an angle. In the beginning movement hammertoe
may still be possible but as time passes and the injury worsens the
toe will be locked in place and possible require hammer toe correction surgery to fix. Another key indicator of hammer toe is that a lump or corn will form on top of the toe. The toe joint will be
painful and walking can cause severe discomfort. Occasionally a callus may form on the sole of the injured foot. If you see any of these symptoms together or have been enduring pain for some time,
seeing a podiatrist should be your next step.
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
You can usually use over-the-counter cushions, pads, or medications to treat bunions and corns. However, if they are painful or if they have caused your toes to become deformed, your doctor may opt
to surgically remove them. If you have blisters on your toes, do not pop them. Popping blisters can cause pain and infection. Use over-the-counter creams and cushions to relieve pain and keep
blisters from rubbing against the inside of your shoes. Gently stretching your toes can also help relieve pain and reposition the affected toe.
If this fails or if treatment is not sought until the toes are permanently misaligned, then surgery may be required. Surgery may involve either cutting the tendon or fusing the joint. Congenital
conditions should be treated in early childhood with manipulations and splinting.
Daily modifications and correct shoe choices can prevent and slow the progression of hammertoe deformities. The main cause in hammertoe deformities is muscle/tendon dysfunction. Wearing of
ill-fitting, tight, high heeled shoes contributes to the progression to hammertoe deformities. Also, bunion conditions can enhance the formation of hammertoes. A key to prevention of hammertoes is
the wearing of correct footwear, specifically shoes with appropriate support and a deep, wide toe box.