What is a hammertoe?
A hammertoe is a toe that is contracted. There are 2 forms of hammertoes; flexible or rigid. The rigid hammertoe is fixed and cannot be returned to a straight toe. A flexible toe can be placed back into its normal alignment.
Ligaments are amazing structures that connect from one bone to another.
They have neurosensory detectors that sense strain. Instability within the joint strains the ligament and the sensors are activated. Just like turning on a light switch, the light bulb shines. The switch from the sensors in the ligament sends a signal to the spine that extra support to the joints of the foot is needed. So, the spine sends a signal to the muscles that support that joint with instability to contract. In this case, the flexor muscles are the ones forced to contract. A force happens from the area where the tendon inserts into the toe, pulling the toe back to the heel. The extensor muscles are not contracting and that’s why the balance of tendons pulling on the toes become imbalanced.
This excessive pronation joint instability issue only occurs when standing, walking, or running.
The more active you are, the more contraction there is of the flexor muscles pulling on the toes. Walking is the most common conscious activity of the body. We continue to walk, day after day, and that is why hammertoes never go away but get progressively worse.
Why are hammertoes a “bad thing”?
What is the best form of treatment?
Millions of toes are operated on every year in an attempt to straighten the toe. Surgeons will cut tendons of the toe and remove a section of the joint. The surgeon will be very pleased because the toe will look straight. The only issue is that the underlying cause of the hammertoe is still present. The ankle bone is still partially dislocating on the heel bone. The joint instability within the foot is still present and the ligaments are still sending the signal to the spine to cause the flexor muscles to contact.
It is just a matter of time until the surgically realigned toe becomes a hammertoe again. That’s because the cut tendons will heal back together and the muscle will once again aggressively pull the toe out of alignment. Many surgeons will then insert a toe implant, wire or screw, in an attempt to fuse the joint to straighten the toe. The biggest problem is that there is still a pretty good chance that the toe will bend again.
The bottom line, it is important to fix the underlying cause, and the sooner the better. Imagine if the ankle bone was stabilized on the heel bone with HyProCure early in life. The tendons will be pulling on the toes in a balanced manner. The person would not have had all of the potential issues associated with those hammertoes. No published evidence proves HyProCure will straighten your toes, but this is a comment that has been told to us. It also makes perfect sense. If the ligaments don’t get strained, then the strain sensor is not activated and the flexor muscles are not having to contract excessively.