by Dr. Steven Waldman
Here at Milwaukee Foot Specialists many of our patients complain about their hammer toes. What is a hammer toe? These digital deformities can cause a lot of problems to patients and are just one of the types of deformities categorized into what are known as digital contractures. Some patients find that they have trouble fitting their contracted digits into shoes, causing friction, calluses, and many other types of discomfort. Other patients find that their contracted digits cause issues with walking as they may even overlap and get in the way of another toe’s ability to make contact with the ground. Of course even if your contracted digit doesn’t cause our patients any discomfort, some just do not like their unsightly nature, wishing that their toes would line up more evenly.
There are three major types of digital contractures seen in the toes and they are a result of different combinations of deformities across the 3 joints the lesser toes (all but your big toe) are made up of. A hammer toe is when the first joint closest to the foot (the metatarsophalangeal joint) is extended upwards or towards the head and the second joint, the proximal interphalangeal joint, is flexed away from the head. The second type of contracture, the claw toe, is very similar to the hammer toe however the distal interphalangeal joint (or the third joint and closest joint to the toenail) is also flexed away from the head. Lastly, the mallet toe involves the first and second joints extended toward the head and the third joint flexed away from the head. The difference between these three can change the treatment choice between you and your physician, however they can all cause similar problems.
Should you see a podiatrist for your hammer toes? If you are dealing with a digital contracture in your foot, set up an appointment for us to take a look! These types of toes can cause many problems with pain from growing calluses, and issues with shoes. Especially if you are a patient with a problem with wound healing (our diabetic patients), having your calluses and toe deformities looked at as soon as possible can make quite the difference. Check back next week when we discuss treatment options for your hammer, claw, and mallet toes!