Hammer, claw, and mallet toes are toes that do not have the right shape. They may look odd or may hurt, or both. Tight shoes are the most common cause of these toe problems. A hammertoe is a toe that bends down toward the floor at the middle toe joint. It usually happens in the second toe. This causes the middle toe joint to rise up. Hammer toes often occur with bunions. Claw toe often happens in the four smaller toes at the same time. The toes bend up at the joints where the toes and the foot meet. They bend down at both the middle joints and at the joints nearest the tip of the toes. This causes the toes to curl down toward the floor. A mallet toe often happens to the second toe, but it may happen in the other toes as well. The toe bends down at the joint closest to the tip of the toe.
People who are born with long bones in their toes are more likely to develop hammer toe. Children who wear shoes they have outgrown may develop this condition. People who wear very narrow shoes or high-heeled shoes are also more likely to develop a hammer toe. Sometimes, pressure from a bunion can cause hammer toe. Rheumatoid arthritis is another a risk factor.
The most obvious symptom of hammer, claw or mallet toe is the abnormal toe position. This is usually combined with pain: the abnormal foot position leads to excessive friction on the toe as it rubs against any footwear which can be extremely painful. Corns & Calluses: repeated friction can result in the formation of a foot corn or callus on top of the toes. Stiffness, the joints become increasingly stiff. In the early stages, the toes can usually be straightened out passively using your hands, but if allowed to progress, the stiffness may be permanent.
Some questions your doctor may ask of you include, when did you first begin having foot problems? How much pain are your feet or toes causing you? Where is the pain located? What, if anything, seems Hammer toes to improve your symptoms? What, if anything, appears to worsen your symptoms? What kind of shoes do you normally wear? Your doctor can diagnose hammertoe or mallet toe by examining your foot. Your doctor may also order X-rays to further evaluate the bones and joints of your feet and toes.
Non Surgical Treatment
If your hammertoe problem is diagnosed as flexible hammertoe, there are a number of nonsurgical treatments that may be able to straighten out your toe or toes and return them to their proper alignment. Padding and Taping. Your physician may pad the boney top-part of your hammertoe as a means of relieving pain, and may tape your toes as a way to change their position, correct the muscle imbalance and relieve the pressure that led to the hammertoe's development. Medication. Anti-inflammatory drugs such as aspirin and ibuprofen can help deal with inflammation, swelling and pain caused by your hammertoe. Cortisone injections may be prescribed for the same purpose. If your hammertoe is a consequence of arthritis, your physician may prescribe medications for that.
If these treatments are not sufficient at correcting the hammer toe, an operation to straighten the toe may be necessary. This is often performed in conjunction with surgery for a bunion deformity. The surgical treatment of a hammer toe can consist of either cutting the tendons to relieve the pressure that causes the deformity, or fusing the toe so that it points straight permanently.
Over Pronation (Flat Feet) refers to the biomechanical shock-absorbing motion of the ankle, foot and lower leg. It is the natural inward flexing motion of the lower leg and ankle. Standing, walking, and running cause the ankle joint to pronate which in turn helps the body to absorb shock and allows it to control balance. An ankle joint that is too flexible causes more pronation than desired. This common condition is called Over- Pronation (sometimes referred to as "Flat Feet"). This foot condition places an extreme degree of strain on various connective tissues of the ankle, foot, and knee. If this condition is not addressed foot pain and toe deformities such as bunions and hammer toes (just to name a couple) may develop. Hip and lower back pain may also be residual results from this condition.
There are many possible causes for overpronation, but researchers have not yet determined one underlying cause. Hintermann states, Compensatory overpronation may occur for anatomical reasons, such as a tibia vara of 10 degrees or more, forefoot varus, leg length discrepancy, ligamentous laxity, or because of muscular weakness or tightness in the gastrocnemius and soleus muscles. Pronation can be influenced by sources outside of the body as well. Shoes have been shown to significantly influence pronation. Hintermann states that the same person can have different amounts of pronation just by using different running shoes. It is easily possible that the maximal ankle joint eversion movement is 31 degrees for one and 12 degrees for another running shoe.
With over pronation, sufferers are most likely to experience pain through the arch of the foot. A lack of stability is also a common complaint. Over pronation also causes the foot to turn outward during movement at the ankle, causing sufferers to walk along the inner portion of the foot. This not only can deliver serious pain through the heel and ankle, but it can also be the cause of pain in the knees or lower back as well. This condition also causes the arch to sink which places stress on the bones, ligaments, and tendons throughout the foot. This may yield other common conditions of foot pain such as plantar fasciitis and heel spurs.
People who overpronate have flat feet or collapsed arches. You can tell whether you overpronate by wetting your feet and standing on a dry, flat surface. If your footprint looks complete, you probably overpronate. Another way to determine whether you have this condition is to simply look at your feet when you stand. If there is no arch on the innermost part of your sole, and it touches the floor, you likely overpronate. The only way to truly know for sure, however, is to be properly diagnosed by a foot and ankle specialist.
Non Surgical Treatment
Although there is no actual cure for over-pronation it is possible to correct or at least reduce this problem. In order to restore our normal foot function an 'orthotic' or orthotic insole device is placed inside the shoes. Orthotics are designed to realign the foot and ankle bones to their natural position. This in turn restores our normal foot function and it helps alleviate not only foot problems but also ailments in other parts of the body i.e. the legs, knees and lower back. In addition to wearing an orthotic, it is recommended to wear supportive shoes, like good quality athletic footwear with a firm heel counter and sufficient flexibility in the forefoot area.
Many of the prevention methods for overpronation orthotics, for example, can be used interchangeably with treatment methods. If the overpronation is severe, you should seek medical attention from a podiatrist who can cast you for custom-made orthotics. Custom-made orthotics are more expensive, but they last longer and provide support, stability, and balance for the entire foot. You can also talk with a shoe specialist about running shoes that offer extra medial support and firm heel counters. Proper shoes can improve symptoms quickly and prevent them from recurring. Surgery can sometimes help cure and prevent this problem if you suffer from inherited or acquired pes planus deformity. Surgery typically involves stabilizing the bones to improve the foot?s support and function.