The name Hammer toe
comes from the way the tip of the toe hits or hammers on the floor with each step. The primary deformity seen in a
hammer toe is found at the PIPJ (proximal interphalangeal joint) which is the first or more proximal of the two joints of the toe. A mallet toe, on the other hand, is a similar deformity but is found
in the DIPJ (distal interphalangeal joint). And lastly, claw toes are a deformity where the entire toe grabs and involves the MPJ (metatarsal phalangeal joint) PIPJ and DIPJ. Collectively, these
deformities are referred to as hammer toes. Hammer toes can affect one or all of the toes simultaneously.
A common cause of hammer toe is wearing shoes that do not fit properly. Poorly-fitting shoes can hold the toes in an abnormal position and result in tightening of the muscles required to maintain
that position. In particular, shoes that have high heels and are narrow at front tend to push the toes into an abnormal, bent position. Less commonly, diseases of the nerves, muscles, or joints (such
as arthritis) can result in the hammer toe deformity.
Symptoms may include pain in the affected toe or toes when you wear shoes, making it hard or painful to walk. A corn or callus on the top of Hammer toes
the joint caused by rubbing against the shoe. Swelling and redness of the skin over the joint.
Trouble finding comfortable shoes.
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
Try to find shoes that are soft, roomy, and comfortable and avoid tight shoes or shoes with high heels. A shoe repair shop may be able to stretch a small pocket in regular shoes to make room for the
hammertoe. Have a professional pedicure. Sometimes a skilled manicurist can file down a painful corn. Follow your healthcare provider's instructions. Ask your provider what activities you should
avoid and when you can return to your normal activities, how to take care of yourself at home, what symptoms or problems you should watch for and what to do if you have them. Make sure you know when
you should come back for a checkup.
Ordinary hammertoe procedures often use exposed wires which extend outside the end of toes for 4-6 weeks. Common problems associated with wires include infection where the wires come out of the toe,
breakage, pain from hitting the wire, and lack of rotational stability causing the toe to look crooked. In addition, wires require a second in-office procedure to remove them, which can cause a lot
of anxiety for many patients. Once inserted, implants remain within the bone, correcting the pain and deformity of hammertoes while eliminating many of the complications specific traditional