A hammer toe can cause pain when you walk or when you try to stretch the toe or those around it. Essentially a hammer toe is a deformity that causes your toe to bend or curl downward instead of pointing forward. Any toe on your foot can have hammertoe, but most often it occurs on the second or third toe. Sometimes people are born with hammer toe but it usually develops over time due to wearing ill-fitting shoes, such as tight, pointed heels. In most cases, a hammer toe condition is treatable. However, hammer toe symptoms may be mild or severe
Mild Symptoms include:
- a toe that bends downward
- corns or calluses
- difficulty walking
- inability to flex your foot or wiggle your toes
- claw-like toes
Common causes of this joint dislocation include:
- a traumatic toe injury
- an unusually high foot arch
- wearing shoes that don’t fit properly
- tightened ligaments or tendons in the foot
- pressure from a bunion, which is when your big toe points inward toward your second toe
We can usually diagnose a hammer toe during a physical exam. Imaging tests, such as X-rays, may be necessary if you’ve had a bone, muscle, or ligament injury in your toe. The severity of your condition determines the treatment options for a hammer toe.
Changing your shoes to proper fitting ones is one of the first things to do. If a high arch is the source, wearing toe pads or insoles in your shoes can help. These pads work by shifting your toe’s position, which relieves pain and corrects the appearance of your toe. Gently stretching your toes can also help relieve pain and reposition the affected toe.
Treatment for a Severe Hammer Toe
If you’re unable to flex your toe, surgery is the only option to restore movement. Surgery can reposition the toe, remove deformed or injured bone, and realign your tendons. Surgery is normally done on an outpatient basis, so you can return home on the day of your surgery.