Hammer toe


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Hammer toe

About the treatment

Hammer toe

What is hammer toe?

Hammer toe is a foot deformity characterized by an abnormal bend in one or more of the small joints of the toe. It usually affects the second, third, or fourth toe, causing the toe to bend downward at the middle joint, resembling a hammer.

How to know I have hammer toe?

You might suspect you have hammer toe if you notice the following signs and symptoms:

  1. Toe Deformity: The affected toe appears bent downward at the middle joint, resembling a hammer or a claw.
  2. Pain or Discomfort: Experience pain, discomfort, or irritation in the affected toe, especially when wearing shoes or when pressure is applied to the bent toe.
  3. Corns or Calluses: Develop corns or calluses on the top of the affected toe or at the tip where it rubs against the shoe.
  4. Limited Movement: Experience difficulty straightening or flexing the affected toe, with decreased range of motion compared to the other toes.
  5. Changes in Appearance: Notice changes in the shape or appearance of the toe, such as swelling, redness, or inflammation.

What causes hammer toe?

Hammer toe can develop due to several factors that contribute to the imbalance of the muscles, tendons, and ligaments in the toes. Some common causes include:

  1. Foot Structure: Inherited foot structure abnormalities or biomechanical imbalances can predispose individuals to develop hammer toe. Conditions like high arches, flat feet, or having a second toe longer than the big toe can increase the risk.
  2. Footwear: Wearing shoes that are too tight, narrow, or have a pointed toe box can force the toes into an unnatural position, leading to the development of hammer toe. High heels, especially those with a narrow or cramped toe area, can also contribute to toe deformities.
  3. Age: As individuals age, the ligaments and tendons in the toes may become tighter and less flexible, increasing the likelihood of developing hammer toe.
  4. Gender: Women are more prone to develop hammer toe due to a higher likelihood of wearing high heels or shoes that constrict toe movement.
  5. Foot Trauma: Previous toe injuries, stubbing, or trauma can increase the risk of developing hammer toe.
  6. Neurological Conditions: Certain neurological conditions, such as nerve damage caused by diabetes or conditions affecting muscle function, can contribute to toe deformities.

How hammer toe is treated?

Treatment for hammer toe depends on the severity of the condition. Here are common approaches used in managing hammer toe:

  1. Footwear Modification: Wearing shoes with a roomy toe box, adequate space for the toes, and low heels can help alleviate pressure on the toes and prevent further irritation. Avoiding high heels or shoes with a narrow toe box is recommended.
  2. Toe Exercises and Stretching: Performing toe exercises and stretches recommended by a healthcare professional can help strengthen and stretch the toe muscles and improve flexibility.
  3. Padding or Orthotic Devices: Using toe cushions, splints, or orthotic inserts can help realign the toes, reduce pain, and prevent further progression of the deformity.
  4. Corn or Callus Management: Treating corns or calluses that develop due to hammer toe with over-the-counter remedies or gentle filing to alleviate discomfort.
  5. Medications: Over-the-counter pain relievers like acetaminophen or ibuprofen may help alleviate pain and inflammation associated with hammer toe.
  6. Physical Therapy: Undergoing physical therapy sessions with a focus on toe exercises, stretching, and strengthening can improve toe flexibility and function.
  7. Injections: In some cases, corticosteroid injections may be used to reduce inflammation and alleviate pain in the affected area.
  8. Surgical Intervention: If conservative measures fail to provide relief, or if the deformity is severe and causes persistent pain or difficulty walking, surgery may be considered to correct the alignment of the toe. Surgical procedures may involve releasing tight tendons, removing a small piece of bone, or straightening the toe joint.

The choice of treatment depends on the severity of the condition, symptoms, and individual factors. Consulting with our podiatry professional, who can provide proper diagnosis and personalized treatment recommendations for managing hammer toe effectively. Early intervention and consistent management strategies are key to reducing discomfort and preventing further progression of the condition.



Hammer toe

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Hammer toe

Patient succes stories

Review 3

Joanne K.

Dr. Salvatore Gaudino is a miracle worker.  I had problems walking for more than five years, NOT any more.  I went to countless Specialists… One of the luckiest days of my life is when I made an appointment with him!  He is truly amazing.  The great office staff is welcoming.  What a great experience.  Thank you ALL!

Review 2

Jessica D.

Dr. Gaudino examined my son and explained to me exactly what he needed to correct his “turned feet”, as well as showing me some exercises to relieve the tension in his feet. He was so nice and caring towards my son, and really made him feel at ease. I would definitely recommend this practice to my friends and family!