, Claw and Mallet Toe are similar conditions, all caused by deformity of the toe joints. They
usually develop slowly from wearing poor fitting shoes, but can also be due to muscle or nerve damage. Muscle imbalance causes the toes to bend into odd positions which can be extremely painful,
limiting walking and activity. They become more common with aging and affect approximately 10-15% of the population. Women are five times more likely to suffer from hammer, claw or mallet toe than
Hammer toe results from shoes that don?t fit properly or a muscle imbalance, usually in combination with one or more other factors. Muscles work in pairs to straighten and bend the toes. If the toe
is bent and held in one position long enough, the muscles tighten and cannot stretch out. Some other causes are diabetes, arthritis, neuromuscular disease, polio or trauma.
At first, a hammertoe or mallet toe may maintain its flexibility and lie flat when you're not wearing crowded footwear. But eventually, the tendons of the toe may contract and tighten, causing your
toe to become permanently stiff. Your shoes can rub against the raised portion of the toe or toes, causing painful corns or calluses.
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
Treatment for a hammertoe usually depends on the stage of the hammertoe and the cause of the condition. If your toe is still bendable, your doctor may suggest conservative care-relieving pressure
with padding and strapping, or proper shoes that have a deep toe box and are of adequate length and width. Early intervention can often prevent the need for surgery.
If these non-invasive treatments don?t work, or if the joint is rigid, a doctor?s only recourse may be to perform surgery. During the surgery, the doctor makes an incision and cuts the tendon to
release it or moves the tendon away from or around the joint. Sometimes part of the joint needs to be removed or the joint needs to be fused. Each surgery is different in terms of what is needed to
treat the hammertoe. Normally after any foot surgery, patients hammertoes
surgical shoe for four to six weeks, but often the recovery from hammertoe surgery is more rapid than that. An unfortunate reality is that hammertoe can actually return even after surgery if a
patient continues to make choices that will aggravate the situation. Though doctors usually explain pretty clearly what needs to be done to avoid this.