Hammer toes are a painful deformity of your second, third or fourth toes. The condition causes your toe or several toes to contract upwards and become permanently bent at the middle joint. The end of your toe or toes flexes downward and creates a shape that vaguely resembles a hammer.
Hammer toes are caused by imbalances in the strength of your lower leg and foot muscles. Your muscles work in pairs to straighten and bend your toes. If your toe is bent and held in the same position over a period of time then your muscles tighten and become unable to stretch out.
Ill-fitting and high-heeled shoes are thought to play a part in the development of hammer toes as they can push your lesser toes into a bent position that eventually results in your toe muscles becoming unable to straighten your toe, even when there is no confining shoe.
Arthritis, injury and bunions are also thought to cause hammer toes. Narrow or high-heeled shoes can also cause your toes rub against your shoe and this may lead to corns or calluses forming, which further aggravate the condition.
Sometimes hammer toes are just a cosmetic problem, but more often they are associated with pain caused by problems associated with having hammer toes including:
If you have hammer shoes you also have the added problem of finding comfortable fitting shoes.
Hammer toes that are just starting to develop tend to be flexible and can be manually pulled straight and may improve with exercises that counteracts your muscle imbalance such as those that pull your foot upwards against resistance. However, the longer you have hammer toes the more likely it is they will be rigid, or non-reducible.
Changing your footwear may improve your hammer toes. It’s advisable to choose shoes that are soft and have a high and broad toe box to accommodate your hammer toes and reduce friction against them. You should avoid wearing tight, narrow, high-heeled shoes.
Other conservative treatments include using hammer toe crests and hammer toe splints to help hold down your hammer toe. Protective pads may be recommended to relieve symptoms of hammer toes and shoe friction, and include gel toe shields, gel toe caps, cushions and nonmedicated corn pads to relieve symptoms.
A podiatrist may assess your hammer toes and recommend custom-made orthotic arch supports and heel wedges to help counteract the imbalances that lead to hammer toes.
The only way to correct hammer toes is with surgery. It is usually recommended if non-conservative measures have not relieved your symptoms or you are experiencing secondary problems, such as skin wounds.
Usually, surgery is carried out on an outpatient basis under local anaesthetic. The exact procedure will be based on the type and extent of your deformity.
At Ramsay Health Care we are proud to work in partnership with some of the highest qualified and experienced cosmetic surgeons, ophthalmologist, orthopaedic surgeons, neurosurgeons, pain management consultants and physiotherapists in the UK. Our holistic care offers you the best treatment!
At Ramsay you won’t have to wait for an appointment for your surgery.Your treatment may be covered by medical insurance and self-pay packages are available on request. We have first class facilities and all self-funding and most privately insured patients can enjoy our Premium Care offering exclusive benefits including superb food, a relaxing environment, priority access and appointments to suit your lifestyle. Our aim is to help you feel like a guest as well as a patient.
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