What Is A Hammer toes
? A hammer toe, or claw toe, describes a condition where the toe(s) become buckled, contracted or
crooked. The toe could even cross over an adjacent toe, which is called a cross over toe. Any of the toes may be affected, but the 2nd and 5th toe are most commonly involved.
Wearing ill-fitting shoes is probably the main cause of hammer toe. As the toe bends, tendons add to the problem by contracting in such a way that the bending is reinforced to the point of becoming
permanent. In some cases, tendons that are abnormal to begin with may start the bending process.
Symptoms of a hammertoe are usually first noticed as a corn on the top of the toe or at the tip which produces pain with walking or wearing tight shoes. Most people feel a corn is due to a skin
problem on their toes, which in fact, it is protecting the underlying bone deformity. A corn on the toe is sometimes referred to as a heloma dura or heloma durum, meaning hard corn. This is most
common at the level of the affected joint due to continuous friction of the deformity against your shoes.
First push up on the bottom of the metatarsal head associated with the affected toe and see if the toe straightens out. If it does, then an orthotic could correct the problem, usually with a
metatarsal pad. If the toe does not straighten out when the metatarsal head is pushed up, then that indicates that contracture in the capsule and ligaments (capsule contracts because the joint was in
the wrong position for too long) of the MTP joint has set in and surgery is required. Orthotics are generally required post-surgically.
Non Surgical Treatment
Conservative treatment is limited to accommodation, not correction, of the deformity, though some patients find the relief they can get from these options to be more than enough to put off or even
avoid surgery. These include better Footwear. Shoe gear with a wider toe box and higher hammertoe
volume causes less friction to the toes. Toe Braces and Strapping.
Some toe braces and strapping techniques take some pressure off the toes during gait. Custom molded orthotics can redistribute the forces through the tendons that control the toe, lessening the pain
and extent of the deformity.The calluses on the toe and the ball of the foot can be shaved occasionally to reduce some pain and pressure, although they will return due to the constant
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.