is a toe that becomes permanently bent in the middle so that the end of the toe points
downward. The portion of the toe before the joint where the bend occurs tends to arch upward. A hammer toe takes years to develop. Once the toe becomes permanently bent, corns or calluses may form.
Treatment helps control symptoms in many people, but surgery is sometimes needed to straighten the toe.
A common cause of hammertoe and mallet toe is wearing improper footwear - shoes that are too tight in the toe box, or high-heel shoes. Wearing shoes of either type can push your toes forward,
crowding one or more of Hammer toe
them into a space that's not large enough to allow your toes to lie flat.
Hammertoe and mallet toe deformities can also be inherited and may occur despite wearing appropriate footwear. The result is a toe that bends upward in the middle and then curls down in a hammer-like
or claw-like shape. Your shoes can rub against the raised portion of the toe or toes, causing painful corns or calluses. The bottom of the affected toe can press down, creating the mallet-like
appearance of mallet toe. At first, a hammertoe or mallet toe may maintain its flexibility and lie flat when you're not wearing crowded footwear. But eventually, the tendons of the toe may contract
and tighten, causing your toe to become permanently stiff.
The symptoms of a hammer toe are usually first noticed when a corn develops on the top of the toe and becomes painful, usually when wearing tight shoes. There may be a bursa under the corn or instead
of a corn, depending on the pressure. Most of the symptoms are due to pressure from footwear on the toe. There may be a callus under the metatarsal head at the base of the toe. Initially a hammer toe
is usually flexible, but when longstanding it becomes more rigid.
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 as rheumatoid arthritis) or other disorders that can cause hammertoe. If the deformed toe is very painful, your doctor may recommend that you have a fluid sample withdrawn
from the joint with a needle so the fluid can be checked for signs of infection or gout (arthritis from crystal deposits).
Non Surgical Treatment
You should seek medical advice if you have a hammer toe. Here are some things you can do in the meantime. None of these things will cure the hammer toe, but they may relieve the pain and discomfort.
Only wear shoes that are high and broad across the toes. There should be at least 1.5 cm of space between your longest toe and the tip of the shoe. Keep in mind that this could be either your big toe
or your second toe. Don't wear heels higher than 5 cm. Wear the appropriate shoe for the activity you are doing. You can buy non-medicated hammer toe pads. They fit around the pointy top of the toe
joint and help relieve painful pressure. Gently massaging the toe may help relieve pain. Put ice packs wrapped in cloth on the hammer toe to reduce painful swelling.
Laser surgery is popular for cosmetic procedures, however, for hammer toe surgery it does not offer any advantage to traditional methods. Laser is useful for soft tissues (not bone), and because
hammer toe surgery involves bone procedures, it is not effective. For cosmetic hammer toe surgery, patients should look for surgeons experienced in aesthetic foot surgery.