Hammertoes are a contracture of the smaller toes of the feet.
As the condition progresses, the toes start to develop pressure points on the tops of the joints. These areas of pressure sometimes develop corns or calluses from all the rubbing or friction.
Hammertoes are genetic in nature, however, there is usually an abnormal force involved:
- from tendons trying to stabilize a foot that is too flexible
- from tendons trying to make up for a weak muscle
In the beginning, helping the foot maintain better balance and reducing the abnormal pressures provides relief. Often, a custom molded orthotic is prescribed to assist the weakened muscles. The podiatrist may relieve any build-up of callus or corn on the toes, which also provides significant relief. Frequently, cushioning is used to help to relieve pressure on the area.
As the condition progresses, arthritic changes in the joints of the toes can occur which may require surgical treatment. Hammertoe surgery is a relatively short out-patient procedure that realigns the joint and relieves the pressure.