This article was publishes this year around the country
Hammertoes occur when toe tendons have tightened on the top, causing them to appear angular and disfigured. Mayo Clinic describes a hammertoe as a toe that is curled due to a bend in the middle joint. On the Mayo Clinic website, the cause of hammertoe is attributed to poorly fitting shoes–such as ones that are tight in the toe box or high heels. When your toe is forced to the front of your shoe, the result is an unnatural bending of your toe and a hammer-like or claw-like appearance (http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/hammertoe-and-mallet-toe/DS00480).
But are properly fitting, comfortable shoes surefire prevention against hammertoes? Not necessarily. While the Mayo Clinic lists bad shoe wear as a cause of hammer toes, other sources suggest that it can be caused by a longer second toe (also known as Morton’s Toe).
In Why You Really Hurt: It All Starts in the Foot, Dr. Burton S. Schuler, who graduated from the New York College of Podiatric Medicine in 1975 at the age of 24, and has seen his fair share of Morton’s Toes (http://whyyoureallyhurt.com/mortons-toe/hammer/.) Schuler advances the idea that Morton’s Toe can be the cause of hammertoes (and corns, which are due to the rubbing of the top of the toes on the shoes). Hammertoes are related to Morton’s Toe since the foot undergoes abnormal pronation and pressure becomes unevenly distributed throughout the toes and foot when the second toe is longer.
If you have Morton’s Toe, one way to avoid developing hammer toes is if you place a toe pad under your first toe. If the hammertoe is too advanced, surgery may be necessary. According to Schuler, surgery chosen is decided by whether we are dealing with a flexible or rigid hammer toes. If the surgery is on a flexible hammer toe, it is performed on soft tissue structures like the tendon and or capsule of the flexor hammer toe. Rigid hammer toes need bone surgeries into the joint of the toe to repair it. This bone surgery is called an arthroplasty. (http://www.footcare4u.com/category/hammer-toes/).
2003 data from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services states that out of 300,000 hammertoe surgeries performed annually–over 50,000 patients are unsatisfied with the results (http://www.podiatrytoday.com/minimizing-risk-failed-hammertoe-surgery). Thus, early diagnosis of Morton’s Toe can help prevent a later surgery that has a high chance of being unsatisfactory anyway.