Generally a hammertoe or mallet toe is caused by hammertoes
wearing high heels or shoes that are too
small around the toe area, so it?s no surprise that it is mostly women who suffer from them. A hammertoe
has a bend in the middle joint of the toe whereas a mallet toe has a
bend in the upper joint of the affected toe. The way someone walks (gait) can also lead to the formation of hammertoes and mallet toes as can overuse and injury. Sometimes a deep blister will form
over the bent joint and often after some time calluses and corns will develop on the affected toe joint. People with arthritis, diabetes or neuromuscular conditions are also more likely to develop a
hammer toe or mallet toe.
Most hammertoes are caused by wearing ill-fitting, tight or high-heeled shoes over a long period of time. Shoes that don?t fit well can crowd the toes, putting pressure on the middle toes and causing
them to curl downward. Other causes include genes. Some people are born with hammertoe, bunions. These knobby bumps sometimes develop at the side of the big toe. This can make the big toe bend toward
the other toes. The big toe can then overlap and crowd the smaller toes. Arthritis in a toe joint can lead to hammertoe.
The most obvious sign of hammertoes are bent toes, other symptoms may include pain and stiffness during movement of the toe. Painful corns on the tops of the toe or toes from rubbing against the top
of the shoe's toe box. Painful calluses on the bottoms of the toe or toes. Pain on the bottom of the ball of the foot. Redness and swelling at the joints.
The treatment options vary with the type and severity of each hammer toe, although identifying the deformity early in its development is important to avoid surgery. Your podiatric physician will
examine and X-ray the affected area and recommend a treatment plan specific to your condition.
Non Surgical Treatment
Symptomatic treatment of hammertoes consists of such things as open toed shoes or hammertoe pads. There are over the counter corn removers for temporally reducing the painful callous often seen with
the hammertoe. These medications must be used with caution. They are a mild acid that burns the callous off. These medications should never be used for corns or callouses between the toes. Persons
with diabetes or bad circulation should never use these products.
Surgery involves removing a small section of bone from the affected joint through a procedure called arthroplasty. Arthrodesis may also be performed to treat hammertoes, which involves fusing
together one of the joints in the toe in order to keep it straight. This procedure requires the use of a metal pin to hold the toe in position while it heals.