, also called hammer toe, deformity of the second, third, or
fourth toe in which the toe is bent downward at the middle joint (the proximal interphalangeal [PIP] joint), such that the overall shape of the toe resembles a hammer. Most cases of hammertoe involve
the second toe, and often only one or two toes are affected. In rare cases when all the toes are involved, a thorough neurological assessment is necessary to evaluate for underlying nerve or spinal
A common cause of hammer toe is wearing shoes that do not fit properly. Poorly-fitting shoes can hold the toes in an abnormal position and result in tightening of the muscles required to maintain
that position. In particular, shoes that have high heels and are narrow at front tend to push the toes into an abnormal, bent position. Less commonly, diseases of the nerves, muscles, or joints (such
as arthritis) can result in the hammer toe deformity.
Hammertoe and mallet toe feature an abnormal bend in the joints of one or more of your toes. Moving the affected toe may be difficult or painful. Corns and calluses can result from the toe rubbing
against the inside of your shoes. See your doctor if you have persistent foot pain that affects your ability to walk properly.
Most health care professionals can diagnose hammertoe simply by examining your toes and feet. X-rays of the feet are not needed to diagnose hammertoe, but they may be useful to look for signs of some
types of arthritis (such hammertoe
as rheumatoid arthritis) or other disorders that
can cause hammertoe.
Non Surgical Treatment
Your doctor will decide what type of hammertoe you have and rule out other medical conditions. Treatment may range from more appropriate footgear to periodic trimming and padding of the corn.
Cortisone injections may be indicated if a bursitis is present. Antibiotics may be utilized in the presence of infection. Removable accommodative pads may be made for you.
Treatment of a severe hammertoe that has become rigid includes surgery. What is done during the surgery depends on how misshapen and inflexible the toe is. The surgeon may make a cut over your toe
and release the tendon by cutting the tendon away from the bone. The surgeon may remove a small piece of bone from the toe. The surgeon may realign the tendons to reposition your toe or fasten the
bones with pins. Sometimes the surgeon may have to join the bones in the toe. In this case, you will no longer be able to bend the toe, but the toe will be flat.
It?s important to understand that preventing hammertoe can sometimes be difficult, since most symptoms do not appear until the condition is well developed. Nonetheless, here are some tips to help you
prevent hammertoe. Do not wear shoes that are too narrow or short. Check your children?s shoe size often to ensure that their shoes still fit correctly. Wear comfortable shoes that fit you properly.
Remember that your feet widen and lengthen with age.