, 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 men.
Footwear is actually the leading cause of this type of toe deformity so much so that people sometimes require hammer toe surgery to undo some of the damage. The most common problem is wearing shoes
that are too short, too narrow or too tight. These shoes constricts the feet and force the toes into a bend position. Women are more at risk especially due to high heels. Footwear isn?t the only
problem, poor foot posture can lead to muscle and even bone imbalances. This asymmetry can cause excessive strain on the toes either by forcing the toe into unnatural positions. Arthritis can also
play a factor in the development of hammer toe, especially if the toe joint is stiff and incapable of a full range of motion.
A hammer toe may be painful, especially when irritated by a shoe. All four toe conditions may cause cramps in the toes, foot and leg due to the abnormal function of the tendons in the foot. If a
mallet toe has occurred, you are likely to suffer from a corn at the end of the toe. A hammertoe may cause a corn on the top of the toe. Infections and ulcers can also occur. In severe cases a mallet
toe, trigger toe, claw toe or a hammer toe may create a downward pressure on the foot, which can result in hard skin and corns on the soles of the feet.
The earlier a hammertoe is diagnosed, the better the prognosis and treatment options. Your doctor will be able to diagnose your hammertoe with a simple examination of the foot and your footwear. He
or she may take an x-ray to check the severity of the condition. You may also be asked about your symptoms, your normal daily activities, and your medical and family history.
Non Surgical Treatment
Orthotics are shoe inserts that can help correct mechanical foot-motion problems to correct pressure on your toe or toes and reduce pain. Changing shoes. You should seek out shoes that conform to the
shape of your feet as much as possible and provide plenty of room in the toe box, ensuring that your toes are not pinched or squeezed. You should make sure that, while standing, there is a half inch
of space for your longest toe at the end of each shoe. Make sure the ball of your foot fits comfortably in the widest part of the shoe. Feet normally swell during the course of the day, so shop for
shoes at the end of the day, when your feet are at their largest. Don't be vain about your shoe size, sizes vary by brand, so concentrate on making certain your shoes are comfortable. Remember that
your two feet are very likely to be different sizes and fit your shoe size to the larger foot. Low-heel shoes. High heels shift all your body weight onto your toes, tremendously increasing the
pressure on them and the joints associated with them. Instead, wear shoes with low (less than two inches) or flat heels that fit your foot comfortably.
Treatment of a severe hammertoe that has become rigid includes surgery. What is done during the surgery depends on how misshapen and inflexible the toe is. The surgeon may make a cut over your toe
and release the tendon by cutting the tendon away from the bone. The surgeon may remove a small piece of bone from the toe. The surgeon may realign the tendons to reposition your toe or fasten the
bones with pins. Sometimes the surgeon may have to join the
bones in the toe. In this case, you will no longer be able to bend the toe, but the toe will be flat.
It?s important to understand that preventing hammertoe can sometimes be difficult, since most symptoms do not appear until the condition is well developed. Nonetheless, here are some tips to help you
prevent hammertoe. Do not wear shoes that are too narrow or short. Check your children?s shoe size often to ensure that their shoes still fit correctly. Wear comfortable shoes that fit you properly.
Remember that your feet widen and lengthen with age.