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Hammer Toe Cause & Therapy

Hammer ToeOverview

A Hammer toes is a term used to describe a crooked, deviated, or contracted toe. Although the condition usually stems from muscle imbalance, it is often aggravated by poor-fitting shoes or socks that cramp the toes. Over a period of years, the tendons that move the toe up and down begin to pull the toe with unequal tension, and the toe then begins to buckle or become contracted, causing an abnormal “v”-shaped bending of the little toes. Patients with this condition often experience pain, swelling, redness and stiffness in the affected toes.

Causes

Hammer toes are most frequently caused by a muscle – tendon imbalance in the foot, and are seen both in adults and children. Foot muscles work in pairs to straighten and bend the toes. If your foot has a biomechanical defect, the muscles tighten and the tendons shorten. Eventually, the toe muscles can?t straighten the toe, even when barefoot. Contributing factors are poor choices in footwear, arthritis, or trauma.

HammertoeSymptoms

The most obvious symptoms of this injury will be the the middle toe joint is permanently bent at an angle. In the beginning movement may still be possible but as time passes and the injury worsens the toe will be locked in place and possible require hammer toe correction surgery to fix. Another key indicator of hammer toe is that a lump or corn will form on top of the toe. The toe joint will be painful and walking can cause severe discomfort. Occasionally a callus may form on the sole of the injured foot. If you see any of these symptoms together or have been enduring pain for some time, seeing a podiatrist should be your next step.

Diagnosis

Most health care professionals can diagnose hammertoe simply by examining your toes and feet. X-rays of the feet are not needed to diagnose hammertoe, but they may be useful to look for signs of some types of arthritis (such as rheumatoid arthritis) or other disorders that can cause hammertoe. If the deformed toe is very painful, your doctor may recommend that you have a fluid sample withdrawn from the joint with a needle so the fluid can be checked for signs of infection or gout (arthritis from crystal deposits).

Non Surgical Treatment

Padding and Taping. Often this is the first step in a treatment plan. Padding the hammertoe prominence minimizes 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. Medication. Anti-inflammatory drugs and cortisone injections can be prescribed to ease acute pain and inflammation caused by the joint deformity. Orthotic Devices. Custom shoe inserts made by your podiatrist may be useful in controlling foot function. An orthotic device may reduce symptoms and Hammer toe prevent the worsening of the hammertoe deformity.

Surgical Treatment

For severe hammer toe, you will need an operation to straighten the joint. The surgery often involves cutting or moving tendons and ligaments. Sometimes the bones on each side of the joint need to be connected (fused) together. Most of the time, you will go home on the same day as the surgery. The toe may still be stiff afterward, and it may be shorter. If the condition is treated early, you can often avoid surgery. Treatment will reduce pain and walking difficulty.

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Complications After Hammer Toe Surgery

Surgery for Hammer Toe Deformity severely restricts all activity for about 15 days. The foot has to be kept at a high place. Care should be taken to see that during the rehabilitation period the affected foot is kept completely dry. Particular care should be taken, till the stitches are removed. More severe cases, involving a great deformity, the surgery procedures may be a little more complicated. The surgeon introduces a pin in the toe and keeps it there for about one and a half months. The Hammer toe usually affects the second toe, but may also affect the other toes. Finger rotates into a position similar to a claw.

Fungus of the toe nail can be caused by many different types of microorganisms. Fungi that are from the dermatophyte group are only one example. Molds and yeasts can also cause nail fungus. A person can catch toe nail fungus by simply showering where someone with toe nail fungus has showered and swimming in the same pool as someone who has toe nail fungus. read more A dislocation of two primary bones in the foot causes the problem. However, some people who experience this dislocation will not experience bunions. That is because they do not suffer from the overgrowing of the bones and the bloating of the joint.

Bunion pain is mostly caused by the deformity or enlargement in the joint which separates the big toe and foot and can be treated by having bunionectomy. In case of fungal toenail infections, a patient requires medical prescription and medication for its treatment and to eliminate the infection. Painful toenails and aching feet are also a foot problem which has to be looked after. Foot orthotics are orthopedic devices designed to treat or adjust various biomechanical foot disorders. This broad definition includes over the counter devices (gel heel cups, Dr. Scholl’s arch supports etc.) to custom type orthotics made from an impression of your feet.hammertoe surgery

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Your treatment will be dependent upon how much flexibility is left in your toes. This is why it’s important to address the problem early. Consult with your physician if you begin to experience persistent, localized foot pain anywhere in your feet. If you’ve lost only partial flexibility due to hammer toe , a semi-invasive technique is often used. The surgeon will make a small incision into your toe to release the tendon. If your hammer toe has caused almost total or total loss of mobility, pieces of bone may also be removed in order to straighten and re-align the toe. Pins will be inserted into the remaining bone.

One day you start to notice that your toes hurt. You don’t know why. Maybe the shoes are too tight, don’t fit right or the heel is too high. Or, if you participate in a high impact or running sport, your toes may be pushed and jammed to the front of your shoe, but whatever it is, you continue to ignore the pain and you keep running. No matter what you do—stretching, pulling on your toes, not wearing shoes—your toes still hurt! You may be on your way to permanently damaging your toes. You may be developing a “hammertoe”!hammer toe pain