Hammer toe is a deformity of the toe, usually the second toe, in which the tip is involuntarily bent downward.
The bend in the toe causes the last joint to permanently stay in a claw-like position, which can cause discomfort when walking and wearing shoes.
Symptoms of hammer toe:
Pain or discomfort when wearing shoes
The middle joint of the toe, or toes, remains bent
A callus forms on the sole of the foot
The tip of the toe appears claw-like
He appearance of a corn on the top of the toe
Hammer toe is almost always caused byhe continued wearing of ill-fitting shoes that cause the toe to bend. Over time, the muscles and tendons in the toe tighten, holding the toe in the bent position.
Common causes of hammer toe are:
Wearing shoes that are too short
Wearing heel highs
Children wearing shoes that are too small
If all the toes are affected, hammer toe can cause problems with the ankles, knees, and even the spine. In some cases the nerves can be damaged if the condition is not treated. Simple activities like walking can become so uncomfortable that the pain affects the entire foot and ankle.
A health care provider can do an exam to determine the severity of the deformation and help prescribe treatment to help reduce the symptoms and relieve pain.
There are many treatments for hammer toe that can correct the condition and return the toe to its natural state.
Treatments for hammer toe might include:
Protecting the joint with felt pads
Wearing insoles to relieve pressure on the toe
Stretching exercises to lengthen the ligaments and tendons
Therapeutic manipulation of the joint
In extreme cases, surgery may be required in order to straighten the joint by cutting the tendons and ligaments, or by fusing the bones round the joint together. Most cases can be cured with conservative treatment, such as physical therapy, and by eliminating the underlying cause.
The best solution for hammer toe is prevention. Avoid wearing tight shoes, high heels and always check children's shoes to ensure that no areas of the foot are inhibited when walking or running.