Hammertoes are a contracture of the lesser digits (toes 2 through 5). The contracture ma involve just the middle knuckles or both knuckles which would be a claw toe. These abnormal contractures can cause irritation between or on top of the toes, resulting in corns. Most people think corns are a skin condition, but they are a response to pressure between the skins and toes or skin and shoe wear.
Causes of Hammertoes
Hammertoes are congenital and usually associated with certain foot types. People with high arch feet, flat feet, and flexible feet often develop hammertoes.
Other common causes include rheumatoid arthritis neuromuscular disease, tendon in balance, and excessively long toes. Women are more commonly affected than men.
Symptoms of Hammertoes
Pain, irritation, and redness are often are initial symptom of hammertoes. The body may build a sac of protective fluid bursa which may also become inflamed, which is bursitis. Early on these deformities are flexible, but with time become rigid or stiff and more difficult to correct. This can progress to cause pain in the toe joints and the ball of the foot. Standing, walking and exercise can become painful while high heeled or pointed shoes may worsen your symptoms.
Other biomechanical issues can worsen hammertoes, such as bunion deformities and tailors bunion deformities.
Treatment of Hammertoes
The first line of treatment is to try wider shoes to accommodate the toe contractures. Shoes with a tall, wide toe box, softer material, gym shoes, lower heeled shoes, cushions, pads, and digital strapping devices may also be used to help correct the contracture and alleviate pain. Chemical or medicated corn pads should never be used to treat the corn often associated with hammertoes.
These contain a strong acid that does not differentiate the good skin from the bad and can result in a chemical burn or open wound that may become infected.
If conservative management fails, there are surgical corrections for hammertoes. Our Physician will perform a complete medical history, physical, and biomechanical exam with x-rays, and develop a proper plan for your care.