What is a Hammer Toe?
A hammer toe is a toe that is bent so that it looks like an upside down V when looked at from the side. Mallet toe is similar, but affects the upper joint of a toe. The conditions usually affect the second through fifth toes. Flexible hammer toes are moveable in the joint. Rigid hammer toes are more serious and occur in patients who have arthritis or who have waited too long to seek treatment. Wearing shoes that are too tight is the most common cause of hammer toes and mallet toes.
What you can do…
- Apply a commercial, non-medicated hammer toe pad around the bony prominence of the hammertoe. This will decrease pressure on the area.
- Wear loose-fitting shoes with a deep toe box.
- If the hammer toe becomes inflamed and painful, apply ice packs several times a day to reduce swelling.
- Avoid heels more than two inches tall.
How a podiatric physician can help...
Padding and Taping:
Often this is the first step in a treatment plan. Padding the hammertoe prominence minimizes pain and allows the patient to continue a normal, active life. Taping may change the imbalance around the toes and relieve the stress and pain.
Anti-inflammatory drugs and cortisone injections can be prescribed to ease acute pain and inflammation.
Custom shoe inserts made by your podiatrist may be useful in controlling foot function. An orthotic device may reduce symptoms and prevent the worsening of the hammer toe deformity.
For less severe deformities, the surgery will remove the bony prominence and restore normal alignment of the toe joint, thus relieving pain. Severe hammer toes may require more complex surgical procedures.
Source: American Podiatric Medical Association