What are hammertoes, mallet toes and claw toes? Often the words are used interchangeably to mean an abnormally contracted toe like the drawing above. Technically speaking, a "Hammer toes
" is the name for a toe that is contracted at the first toe joint. If it's contracted at the second toe
joint it is called a "mallet toe". IIf a toe is contracted at both toe joints, it is called a "claw toe". Each of these conditions can be quite uncomfortable and are cosmetically unappealing.
Your shoes, your genetic predisposition, an underlying medical condition or all of these can make you susceptible to developing one of these deformities of the toes. The genes your parents gave you.
When it comes to genetics, the foot type you?re born with predisposes you to developing this type of joint deformity over a lifetime. For many, a flat flexible foot leads to hammertoes as the foot
tries to stabilize against a flattening arch. Those with high arches can also form hammertoes as the extensor tendons overpower the flexors.
If the toes remain in the hammertoe position for long periods, the tendons on the top of the foot will tighten over time because they are not stretched to their full length. Eventually, the tendons
shorten enough that the toe stays bent, even when shoes are not being worn. The symptoms of hammertoe include a curling toe, pain or discomfort in the toes and ball of the foot or the front of the
leg, especially when toes Hammer toes
are stretched downward, thickening of the skin above or below the affected toe with the formation
of corns or calluses, difficulty finding shoes that fit well. In its early stages, hammertoe is not obvious. Frequently, hammertoe does not cause any symptoms except for the claw-like toe
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
Your podiatrist may recommend one or more of these treatments to manage your hammer toes. Wear shoes with roomy toe boxes which don?t force your toes together. Exercises to stretch and strengthen
muscles in the toes. Over the counter toe straps, cushions, and corn pads. Custom orthotic inserts. Toe caps or toe slings. In severe cases, surgery to release the muscles in the affected toes.
A variety of anaesthetic techniques are possible. Be sure an discuss this with your surgeon during your pre-op assessment. The type of surgery performed will depend on the problem with your toes and
may involve releasing or lengthening tendons, putting joints back into place, straightening a toe and changing the shape of a bone.Your surgeon may fix the toes in place with wires or tiny screws.