A hammertoe is a deformity in which the end of a toe is bent downward into a claw-like position. When a hammertoe begins to form you may still be able to move and straighten the toe, but over time the toe will become rigid and 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.
Hammertoes occur for a variety of reasons: an innate imbalance of the toe muscles, which can lead to instability and cause the toe to contract into the claw-like position; wearing high heels or shoes that are too tight in the toe box that crowd your toes; and trauma, like breaking a toe or stubbing it. You are at an increased risk for developing a hammertoe if:
- You are female
- Someone in your family also has a hammer toe
- Your second toe is longer than your big toe
- Have diseases like arthritis or diabetes
Treatment & Prevention
You can help prevent the development of hammertoes by exercising smart shoe choices, doing exercises that curl and stretch your toes, and wearing custom orthotics. Pads that protect the protruding hammertoe can help to alleviate discomfort if the condition develops. Surgery is also a possibility if your hammertoe becomes painful and affects your everyday life.
When to Seek Care:
If your hammertoe becomes painful, you should have your foot evaluated by a podiatrist. As with most conditions, early intervention is key! Click here to request your appointment.
Watch as Dr. Hyatt Discusses Hammertoes: