There are two different types. Flexible hammertoe
. These are less serious because they can be
diagnosed and treated while still in the developmental stage. They are called flexible hammertoes because they are still moveable at the joint. Rigid Hammertoes. This variety is more developed and
more serious than the flexible condition. Rigid hammertoes can be seen in patients with severe arthritis, for example, or in patients who wait too long to seek professional treatment. The tendons in
a rigid hammertoe have become tight, and the joint misaligned and immobile, making surgery the usual course hammertoe
Medical problems, such as stroke or diabetes that affect the nerves, may also lead to hammertoe. For example, diabetes can result in poor circulation, especially in the feet. As a result, the person
may not feel that their toes are bent into unnatural positions. The likelihood of developing hammertoe increases with age and may be affected by gender (more common in women) and toe length; for
example, when the second toe is longer than the big toe, hammertoe is more likely to occur. Hammertoe may also be present at birth. Genetics may factor in to developing hammertoe, particularly if the
foot is flat or has a high arch, resulting in instability.
Common symptoms of hammertoes include pain or irritation of the affected toe when wearing shoes. corns and calluses (a buildup of skin) on the toe, between two toes, or on the ball of the foot. Corns
are caused by constant friction against the shoe. They may be soft or hard, depending upon their location. Inflammation, redness, or a burning sensation. Contracture of the toe. In more severe cases
of hammertoe, open sores may form.
Some questions your doctor may ask of you include, when did you first begin having foot problems? How much pain are your feet or toes causing you? Where is the pain located? What, if anything, seems
to improve your symptoms? What, if anything, appears to worsen your symptoms? What kind of shoes do you normally wear? Your doctor can diagnose hammertoe or mallet toe by examining your foot. Your
doctor may also order X-rays to further evaluate the bones and joints of your feet and toes.
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 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 deformity.
Surgical correction is necessary in more severe cases and may consist of removing a bone spur (exostectomy) removing the enlarged bone and straightening the toe (arthroplasty), sometimes with
internal fixation using a pin to realign the toe; shortening a long metatarsal bone (osteotomy) fusing the toe joint and then straightening the toe (arthrodesis) or simple tendon lengthening and
capsule release in milder, flexible hammertoes (tenotomy and capsulotomy). The procedure chosen depends in part on how flexible the hammertoe is.