♦ What are Hammer Toes?
Hammer toes are the contracture or “curling” of the toes. This contracture can result from several factors including genetics, tight fitting shoes, high arched feet, muscle imbalances, muscle weakening or trauma to the toes. Your toes, with the exception of your big toe have 2 joints (your great toe only has 1). Any or both of these joints may be contracted. Longer toes are also more susceptible to hammering due to the fact that they are more likely to buckle in shoes. Corns or extra skin may develop over a hammer toe causing additional pain. Corns may develop on the top or between the toes. Corns are the way your body protects the underlying bones.
♦ Evaluation of Hammer Toe Issues
Your Podiatrist will perform a detailed history and physical examination. A biomechanical examination will reveal any underlying muscle tightness or imbalance. Also gait analysis (watching the way you walk) may be useful in determining the underlying reason’s for your hammer toes. Any corns will be identified for later treatment. Also long standing hammer toe deformity may lead to painful arthritis; therefore x-rays may be useful to identify this problem. There may be the presence of corns either on top or between the toes. Corns on top of the toes are caused by friction from a shoe. Corns between the toes are caused by friction from an adjacent mal-aligned toe.