Hammer Toe Symptoms, Causes & Diagnosis
Hammer Toe Symptoms
- Pain or irritation of the affected toe when wearing shoes
- Corns – A buildup of skin on the top, side, or end of the toe, or between the toes
- Calluses – Another type of skin buildup on the bottom of the toe or on the ball of the foot
Because of the progressive nature of hammer toes conditions, they should receive early attention. Hammer toes never get better without some kind of medical intervention.
Hammer Toe Causes
- Muscle/Tendon imbalance is the most common cause of a hammer toe
- Hammer toes are often aggravated by shoes that don’t fit properly
- Hammer toe may be caused by some kind of trauma, such as a previously broken toe
- Can be inherited
Hammer Toe Diagnosis
In diagnosing Achilles tendonitis or tendonosis, an examination of the foot and ankle including evaluating the range of motion and condition of the tendon. The extent of the condition can be further assessed with x-rays, ultrasound or MRI.
Hammer Toe Treatment
Non-Surgical Hammer Toe Approaches:
- Trimming corns & calluses – This should be done by a healthcare professional
- Padding corns & calluses – Medicated pads are generally not recommended because they may contain a small amount of acid that can be harmful
- Changes in shoewear
- Orthotic devices
- Injection therapy
- Oral medication [Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs)]
When Is Surgery Needed For Hammer Toe ?
In some cases, usually when the hammer toe has become more rigid or conservative therapy has failed, hammer toe surgery is needed to relieve the pain and discomfort caused by the deformity.
The most common surgical procedure performed to correct a hammer toe is called arthroplasty. In this procedure, the surgeon removes a small section of the bone from the affected joint.
Another hammer toe surgical option is arthrodesis, ( fusing of a joint) which is usually reserved for more rigid toes or severe case. A pin or other small fixation device is typically used to hold the toe in position while the bones are healing.
Some other procedures that might be needed depending on the severity of the toe include skin wedging, tendon/muscle rebalancing or lengthening, small tendon transfers, or relocation of surrounding joints.