Hammertoes are frequent disorders that occur in the lesser toes of the foot. This term describes an abnormal buckling of any of the toe joints. The toes will typically flexed downward at the tip, and had a lifting up appearance in the middle of the toe. Although many people experience hammertoes, few of them will become significantly symptomatic.
In most cases of hammertoes, there is an imbalance of the muscle/tendon complex that helps maintain the toes alignment. This imbalance causes the deformity to begin. One started, the condition worsens and may become painful. If the condition advances, this will cause a rubbing of the toe on the inner side of the shoe which will result in a painful callus condition commonly known as a corn.
X-rays may be taken to evaluate the deformity of the toe, and to assess if arthritic changes have occurred within the deforming joints.
If the symptoms are mild, simply changing to a shoe that has a larger toe box is frequently all that is needed. Sometimes, using a splint or pad to protect the toes from the inner side of the shoe will also help.
If the symptoms are severe, and not responding to simple treatment, surgery may be required. The type of surgery performed will be determined as to the degree of deformity of the hammertoe. If the hammertoe is flexible and can be straightened with only finger pressure, a very minimal invasive procedure is carried out allowing the person to walk immediately after the performance. However, if the hammertoe is allowed to advance to a more severe state, more aggressive procedures are required.