Hammer toes are a common deformity in the toe due to factors such as poor blood circulation or medical conditions such as diabetes. A hammer toe may occur on any of the toes but they are most common in the three middle toes, causing them to be bent. In some patients, this deformity is present upon birth but for others, it can develop over time due to arthritis or wearing shoes that are restrictive.
The main reason why a hammertoe is formed is largely due to the mechanism of the toe muscles. The muscles work together in pair and when the balance fails, the result is the formation of a hammertoe. This imbalance in muscles will exert a lot of pressure and force on the tendons and joints, causing the toe to bend. Some factors that causes imbalance include the genes passed down by your parents. Patients who suffer from flat foot have an unstable arched feet and this will accelerate this condition.
Patients who are suffering from hammertoe will have the middle joint of the affected toe bent. The end of the bent toe will look like a claw. Initially, the toe can be straightened if you apply some force on it. However as time passes, you will be unable to extend it anymore. Any attempt to do so will only result in tremendous pain. At the top of the toe, a corn may be formed and a callus will be formed likewise at the sole of the foot. Simple actions such as walking and even wearing covered shoes will be a difficult task to accomplish.
As the saying goes, the earlier you diagnose and treat it, the easier it is. In young kids or mild cases, splinting the affected toe can easily treat hammertoe. Kids should be encouraged to wear wide toe shoes to provide the extra space to wriggle the toes. Wearing shoes that offer a slight extra bit of space will also help to allow the toe to straighten itself. During this stage, ladies should avoid wearing high heel shoes, as this will exert even more pressure on the toes.
In serious cases, surgery will be required to straighten the joint. The surgery will include cutting and moving soft tissues such as the tendons and ligaments as well as fusing the bones together. Usually, it is a day surgery and you may notice your toe becoming shorter after surgery since the bones are fused together.