Hammer Toe

Overview

Hammer toe is a deformity of the second, third and fourth toes. The toe is bent at the middle joint, so it looks like a hammer. Hammer toes are flexible in the beginning and can be corrected with simple measures. But if left untreated, they can become fixed in their position and require surgery.

If you display symptoms of hammer toe, you'll want to visit one of the experts at the FHCH Sports Medicine Program to have it looked at. They can recommend non-surgical measures for correcting the problem, and if necessary, perform surgery. The goal is to make you pain free once again and restore mobility.

 

What Causes Hammer Toe?

Wearing shoes that don't fit properly or having a muscle imbalance can cause hammer toe, often with one or more factors in play. Muscles work in pairs and if the toe is bent and held in one position long enough, the muscles tighten and can no longer stretch out.

Pointy shoes may look stylish, but they can push the smaller toes into a bent position. The toes then rub against the shoe, leading to the formation of corns and calluses which only aggravate the condition. High heels tend to force the foot downward which squishes the toes against the shoe, increasing pressure and bending the toes. Eventually, the toe muscles can no longer compensate and the toe remains crooked.

 

Treatment

Non-surgical treatment begins with wearing shoes that are correctly made for your feet.

  • Shoes should be one-half longer than your longest toe. You want to avoid tight, narrow, high heeled shoes or shoes with pointy fronts. The ideal shoe should have a deep toe box that accommodates the hammer toe. Sandals can help as long as they don't pinch or rub on other areas of the foot.
  • Toe exercises can help as well and these come be done at home so that the muscles are stretched and strengthened so they aren't so prone to allow hammer toe to develop in the first place.

Learn about hammer toe surgery options.

If you have questions about hammer toe or want to make an appointment with us, please contact one of our Patient Care Coordinators and they'll be happy to help you.