WHAT IS HAMMERTOE?
The most common abnormality of the second, third, or fourth toe is the hammertoe or claw toe. It is a toe with an unnatural bend in its middle joint, causing the toe to bend downward and resemble a hammer. This deformity is distinguished by the toe bending or curling downward instead of being in the normal straight posture. As the deformity progresses, the toe eventually becomes locked in a claw-like position. A hammertoe frequently begins as a misalignment in the foot that we don’t give much notice to, if at all, and it rarely resolves on its own. It can worsen with time, becoming painful, inflamed, or stiff.
Hammertoe is a chronic, persistent imbalance in toe flexion and extension force caused by intrinsic, extrinsic, or both pressures. Hammertoe deformity is characterized by flexion of the PIP joint of the toe and hyperextension of the MTP and DIP joints.
WHAT ARE THE CAUSES OF HAMMERTOE?
- Genetically transmitted.
- Hammer toe is more common in women than in men.
- Stagnant for extended periods of time.
- A broken toe.
- Imbalance in the muscles, ligaments, and tendons.
- Muscle atrophy.
- Increased toe length.
- In addition, Shoes with limited, minimal, or no arch support.
- Tight footwear.
WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS OF HAMMER TOE?
- Pain on walking.
- Swelling, redness, or a burning feeling are all possible symptoms.
- Toes bent upward.
- Impossibility of straightening the toe.
- Aching when moving or wearing shoes.
- Following, Callouses, and corns.
- Also, Blisters.
DIAGNOSIS OF HAMMER TOE:
- Physical examination.
TREATMENT FOR HAMMER TOE:
WHAT IS THE PHYSIOTHERAPY TREATMENT FOR THE HAMMER TOE?
Rest & Cryotherapy:
Rest and cold pads, or ice therapy, are used to alleviate toe pain, edema, and soreness. Cryo compression can be used to reduce inflammation.
Also, Properly fitted shoes with large toe boxes, allowing enough room for the toes, are recommended.
Supports and Insoles:
While performing special toe exercises, toe pads or insoles in the shoes can be worn. These therapy stages encourage toe straightening while also strengthening toe muscles to make them more flexible. Corn cushions and foot straps are used to alleviate some of the uncomfortable symptoms.
Splinting is used to keep the hammer toe straight by stretching the toe’s tendons and muscles.
For milder situations where the injured toe is still flexible, taping is employed. To maintain it straight, a strip of tape is put under the big toe, over the hammer toe, and under the toe next to the hammertoe.
Especially Stretching techniques involve using your hands to gently stretch and move the affected toe many times per day to increase flexibility.
Range of motion Exercises:
Early intervention, when the muscles and joints are still more flexible, is the most effective treatment for hammer toe. The physiotherapist strives to relax the area so that the joints can return to their normal position. Range of motion exercises helps to maintain joint flexibility and function. Picking up various tiny and larger things with the toes is also an excellent exercise that can be done, picking up marbles and towels seem to correct the hammertoe easily, put a towel under the foot and crumple it, or another example is the toe-spread exercise, which can also be done.
Strengthening the joint with strengthening exercises helps to retain joint motion that can be lost due to extended joint stress.
- Also, the corticosteroid injections if needed, etc.
If the hammer toe is not treated right away, it may become permanent and necessitate surgery to correct it. To ease the symptoms, surgery is performed to relocate the affected toe, remove any distorted bone, and straighten the tendons. Tight tendons and muscles are loosened during surgery so that the toe may straighten again.
In addition, The individual who has a hammer toe uses inappropriate footwear and may have ignored the growth of the hammer toe, which may necessitate surgery to release the tendons. Hammer toe, like many other foot disorders, can be avoided by wearing appropriate footwear, such as low heels with adequate toe room. Shoes should be the correct size and accommodate the longest toe, with adjustable laces and straps and adequate arch support to prevent a variety of foot diseases. Even after treatment, the hammer toe may return; consequently, suitable footwear should be maintained to ensure that the hammer toe does not reappear.