affects both joints of a toe, causing the toe to bend upwards at the proximal joint (the joint closest to the
foot) and down at the distal joint (the one farthest away from the foot). The resulting unnatural bend is often compared to an upside down "V" and also to a hammer or a claw (The condition is
sometimes referred to as clawtoe or clawfoot). A similar condition, in which the first joint of a toe simply bends downward, is called mallet toe. Since the arched bending of hammertoe often causes
the toe to rub against the top of the shoe's toe box and against the sole, painful corns and calluses develop on the toes. Hammertoe can also be a result of squeezing within a too-small or
ill-fitting shoe or wearing high heels that jam your toes into a tight toe box inside your shoe, arthritis, trauma and muscle and nerve damage from diseases such as diabetes. Probably because of the
tight-shoe and high-heel shoe factors, hammertoe tends to occur far more often in women than in men.
The APMA says that hammertoe can result from a muscle imbalance in the foot that puts undue pressure on the joints, ultimately causing deformity. Inherited factors can contribute to the likelihood of
developing hammertoe. Arthritis, stroke or nerve damage from diabetes or toe injuries such as jamming or breaking Hammer toes
a toe can affect muscle balance in the foot, leading to hammertoe. The Mayo Clinic says that wearing
improper shoes often causes hammertoe. Shoes that squeeze the toes, such as those with a tight toe box or with heels higher than two inches, can put too much pressure on the toe joints.
Some people never have troubles with hammer toes. In fact, some people don't even know they have them. They can become uncomfortable, especially while wearing shoes. Many people who develop symptoms
with hammer toes will develop corns, blisters and pain on the top of the toe, where it rubs against the shoe or between the toes, where it rubs against the adjacent toe. You can also develop calluses
on the balls of the feet, as well as cramping, aching and an overall fatigue in the foot and leg.
Your doctor is very likely to be able to diagnose your hammertoe simply by examining your foot. Even before that, he or she will probably ask about your family and personal medical history and
evaluate your gait as you walk and the types of shoes you wear. You'll be asked about your symptoms, when they started and when they occur. You may also be asked to flex your toe so that your doctor
can get an idea of your range of motion. He or she may order x-rays in order to better define your deformity.
Non Surgical Treatment
Early on, when a hammertoe first starts and is still flexible, here are some ways it might be treated. Your healthcare provider may splint or tape the toe into the correct, normal position. You can
use your fingers to stretch your toes and toe joints toward a more normal position. Exercise your toes by trying to pick up marbles with them or by wadding up a towel on the floor with your toes.
Padding may be used to change where your weight falls when you walk on the foot.
Surgery is the approach that is often necessary to correct hammertoe that fails to respond to nonsurgical management. Surgery is appropriate when the muscles and tendons involved in a hammertoe
problem have become so tight that the joints are rigid, misaligned and unmovable. There are a number of surgical techniques for dealing with the complex range of joint, bone, muscle, tendon and
ligament abnormalities that define each hammertoe's make-up. To correct a hammertoe deformity, the surgeon's goal is to restore the normal alignment of the toe joint, relieving the pressure that led
to the hammertoe's development (this should also relieve the pain, as well). To do this, he or she may remove part of the boney structure that creates a prominence at the top of the joint. Tighten or
loosen the muscles, tendons and ligaments around the toe joints. Realign the toe bones by cutting one or more and shifting their position, realigning muscles, tendons and ligaments accordingly. Use
screws, wires or plates to hold the joint surfaces together until they heal. Reconstruct a badly damaged joint or replace it with an artificial implant.
If you notice signs of hammertoes in your feet, try some of these suggestions. Look for shoes with flat heels and plenty of space to allow your toes to stretch and spread. We're proud to say that all
of our shoes at Soft Star feature these qualities. If you're unwilling to give up your heels, at least try to minimize how much you wear them. Instead of wearing heels every day, is it possible to
save them for more special occasions? Giving your feet a break from time to time can do wonders. Practice picking up a towel by grabbing it with your toes. You can also try picking up small objects,
such as dice. Doing this several times a day can help stretch and strengthen your toe muscles. Show Your Feet Some Love. Getting a foot massage and stretching your calves can help loosen muscles and