A Hammertoe is a deformity of the second, third or fourth toes. In this condition, the toe is bent at the middle joint, resembling a hammer. Left untreated, hammertoes can become inflexible and require surgery. People with hammertoes may have corns or calluses on the top of the middle joint of the toe or on the tip of the toe. They may also feel pain in their toes or feet and have difficulty finding comfortable shoes.
Causes of hammertoe include improperly fitting shoes and muscle imbalance. Treatment for the condition typically involves shoes with soft, roomy toe boxes and toe exercises to stretch and strengthen the muscles. Commercially available straps, cushions or non-medicated corn pads may also relieve symptoms.
A physical exam will confirm the presence of a hammer toe. An X-ray can show more about the patient’s specific condition.
Treating a hammer toe before it becomes “fixed” in position is essential. Orthotics, splints, or wearing shoes with roomy toe-boxes may help non-severe cases of hammer toe. In severe cases, surgery may be performed.
Pain and walking difficulty may increase, and a permanent deformity may occur. Repeated friction to the tip or the top of the toe can lead to wounds and infection.