A hammer toe develops because of an abnormal balance of the muscles in the toes. This abnormal balance causes increased pressures on the tendons and joints of the toe, leading to its contracture.
Heredity and trauma can also lead to the formation of a hammer toe.
Arthritis is another factor because the balance around the toe in people with arthritis is disrupted.
Wearing shoes that are too tight and cause the toes to squeeze can also cause a hammer toe to form.
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.
Padding and Taping
Often padding and taping are the first steps in a treatment plan. Padding the hammer toe prominence minimises pain and allows the patient to continue a normal, active life.
Taping may change the imbalance around the toes and thus relieve the stress and pain.
Anti-inflammatory drugs and cortisone injections can be prescribed by your Specialist Podiatrist to ease acute pain and inflammation caused by the joint deformity.
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.
Minimally Invasive Surgical techniques can be used for flexible deformities to lengthen tendons and straighten toes, this technique allows for a faster recovery period.
Severe hammer toes, which are not fully reducible, may require more complex surgical procedures.
Recuperation takes time, and some swelling and discomfort are common for several weeks following surgery. Any pain, however, is easily managed with medications prescribed by your Specialist Podiatrist.