What Is Hammer Toe?
Hammer toe is a deformity of the toe, in which the end of the toe is bent downward. The end part of the toe bends down into a claw-like deformity. At first, you may be able to move and straighten the toe. Over time, however, the toe will no longer straighten. Usually, a corn will form on top of the toe from rubbing against the top of footwear, and a callus will form on the bottom of the foot. These can become painful, especially when walking.
What Causes Hammer Toe?
The most common cause of a hammer toe is wearing improper footwear. Shoes that are too tight in the toe box or shoes that have high heels can push your toes forward, crowding toes into a too-small space where toes cannot lie flat on the insole. Hammer toes can also be inherited and may occur despite wearing appropriate footwear.
Treatment & Prevention
Mild hammer toe in children can be treated by manipulating and splinting the affected toe. Regular shoe sizing as children grow will assist in avoiding hammer toes. For adults, wearing the right shoes is also the key to pain relief.
Avoiding high heels, wearing soft insoles to relieve pressure, and protecting the joint that sticks out with corn pads or felt pads help to alleviate discomfort from a hammer toe are all ways to treat existing hammer toes.
Hammer toe regulators can also be used, usually custom made by a podiatrist, which help to correctly posture the toe. In severe cases, surgery can often correct a hammer toe by cutting or moving tendons and ligaments in the toe or fusing the joint.
Dr. Regal explains what a hammer toe is and how it’s formed in this video.