|YOUR PODIATRIC PHYSICIAN
TALKS ABOUT HAMMERTOES
is a Hammertoe?
A hammertoe is a contracture—or bending—of the toe
at the first joint of the digit, called the proximal interphalangeal
joint. This bending causes the toe to appear like an upside-down V when
looked at from the side. Any toe can be involved, but the condition
usually affects the second through fifth toes, known as the lesser
digits. Hammertoes are more common to females than males.
A hammertoe is formed due an abnormal balance of the
muscles in the toes. This abnormal balance causes increased pressures on
the tendons and joints of the toe, leading to its contracture. Heredity
and trauma can also lead to the formation of a hammertoe. Arthritis is
another factor, because the balance around the toe in people with
arthritis is so disrupted that a hammertoe may develop. Wearing shoes
that are too tight and cause the toes to squeeze can also be a cause for
a hammertoe to form.
The treatment options vary with the type and severity of
each hammer- toe, although identifying the deformity early in its
development is important to avoid surgery. Podiatric medical attention
should be sought at the first indication of pain and discomfort because,
if left untreated, hammertoes tend to become rigid, making a nonsurgical
treatment less of an option.
Remember that foot pain is not normal. Healthy,
pain-free feet are a key to your independence and need regular
attention. At the first sign of pain, or any noticeable changes in your
feet, seek professional podiatric medical care. Your feet must last a
lifetime, and most Americans log an amazing 75,000 miles on their feet
by the time they reach age 50. Regular foot care can make sure your feet
are up to the task. With proper detection, intervention, and care, most
foot and ankle problems can be lessened or prevented. Remember that the
advice provided in this pamphlet should not be used as a substitute for
a consultation or evaluation by a podiatric physician.
This pamphlet is one of a series produced by APMA
that discusses foot health conditions and concerns, including diabetes,
arthritis, athlete’s foot, warts, foot orthotics, aging, children’s
feet, forefoot and rearfoot surgery, walking, heel pain, nail problems,
footwear, and others. They are not meant to be subsitutes for
professional advice from your podiatric physician. The pamphlets are
available from many members of APMA.