What are hammer toes?
The muscles of each toe work in pairs, and when they get out of balance and weaken, a hammer toe (also known as a claw toe) can form. Muscle imbalance puts a lot of pressure on the toes tendons and joints, which forces the toe to bend at the joint, and curl under the foot. The three middle toes of the foot are most susceptible to this condition, causing pain in the toe joint, corns, calluses, swelling, skin redness, deformity, inflexibility, pain in the ball of the foot, change in gait, and a higher risk of other foot conditions such as metatarsalgia. Hammer toes can be a serious problem in people with diabetes or poor circulation. There are 2 types of hammer toes:
Flexible: An earlier stage, less severe form of hammer toe is one that can be moved at the joint.
Rigid: If the tendons in the toe become rigid, they press the joint out of alignment making the toe impossible to move. Surgery may be required to correct the problem.
Causes of hammer toes include:
- Ill fitting shoes (tight, short, pointy or high-heeled)
- Foot injuries or trauma
- Flat feet
- High arches
How Active Foot Care Clinic and Orthotic Centre can help:
Our friendly chiropodist/foot care specialist offer a variety of products and services to help you with the discomfort caused by hammer toes:
Adequate footwear plays an important role in the recovery from the symptoms of hammer toes. At Active Foot Care Clinic and Orthotic Centre's Brantford and Hamilton locations, our experts can assist you in selecting the best fitting and most comfortable footwear for your feet.
- Hammer toe pads
Non-medicated pads can fit around the pointy top of the toe joint to help relieve painful pressure.
The chiropodist/foot care specialist at Active Foot Care Clinic and Orthotic Centre in Hamilton and Brantford may prescribe anti-inflammatory medications to treat the symptoms caused by hammer toes. Oral NSAID medication (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) or injectable cortisone can be administered to reduce inflammation, acute pain and swelling. Please contact our chiropodist/foot care specialist to learn more about which treatment would work best for you.
- Custom made orthotics
An effective treatment of hammer toes, custom made orthotics treats pain and inflammation by stabilizing the joint, and placing the foot in the correct position for standing and walking. They are available in a variety of materials, designs, styles, shapes and corrections, to effectively treat your hammer toe symptoms. For more information, please visit our custom foot orthotics web pages.
May help in the very early stages of hammer toe symptoms.
- Strengthening and stretching exercises
Elastic resistance can help restore toe muscle strength and balance.
- Manipulation and mobilization of joints
A manually applied technique for the relief of bunion pain, the manipulation and mobilization of joints is a therapy which can lessen pain patterns arising from soft tissue adhesions associated with faulty foot biomechanics due to bunions. To further explore how this unique therapy can assist you with the bunion pain you experience, please visit Active Foot Clinic and Orthotic Centre's manipulation and mobilization of joints page.
- Cold laser therapy
A safe and effective treatment for the pain caused by hammer toes, cold laser therapy also helps to alleviate the symptoms of a number of other conditions. For more information about the cold laser therapy that Active Foot Care Clinic and Orthotic Centre offers, please visit our cold laser page.
- Surgical treatment
If the hammer toe is less severe, basic surgery may be used to realign the joint. If more severe, then extensive surgery may be required to correct the deformity. A referral to an orthopedic surgeon would be recommended.