most commonly affects the second toe on the foot. It causes the middle joint to bend. Hammertoe is
most frequently caused by structural problems in the toe or from wearing poor fitting shoes. It is important to diagnose and treat hammertoe early because the condition tends to become worse over
time. If left untreated, hammertoe can require surgery.
People who are born with long bones in their toes are more likely to develop hammer toe. Children who wear shoes they have outgrown may develop this condition. People who wear very narrow shoes or
high-heeled shoes are also more likely to develop a hammer toe. Sometimes, pressure from a bunion can cause hammer toe. Rheumatoid arthritis is another a risk factor.
Symptoms of a hammertoe are usually first noticed as a corn on the top of the toe or at the tip which produces pain with walking or wearing tight shoes. Most people feel a corn is due to a skin
problem on their toes, which in fact, it is protecting the underlying bone deformity. A corn on the toe is sometimes referred to as a heloma dura or heloma durum, meaning hard corn. This is most
common at the level of the affected joint due to continuous friction of the deformity against your shoes.
A hammertoe is usually diagnosed with a physical inspection of your toe. Imaging tests, such as X-rays, may be ordered if you have had a bone, muscle, or ligament injury in your toe.
Non Surgical Treatment
Hammertoes that are not painful (asymptomatic) and still flexible may not require treatment. In mild cases, open-toed, low-heeled, or wider shoes and foam or moleskin pads can provide symptomatic
relief by reducing pressure. Taping (strapping) the affected toe can help to reduce deformity and pain. Physical therapy to instruct patients in exercises that passively stretch tight structures and
strengthen weak foot intrinsic muscles is also helpful with mild cases. Periodic trimming (debridement) of corns (clavi, helomata) by a podiatrist can provide temporary relief. Corticosteroid
injections are often very effective in reducing pain.
For severe hammer toe, you will need an operation to straighten the joint. The surgery often involves cutting or moving tendons and ligaments. Sometimes the bones on each Hammer toes
side of the joint need to be connected (fused) together. Most of the time, you will
go home on the same day as the surgery. The toe may still be stiff afterward, and it may be shorter. If the condition is treated early, you can often avoid surgery. Treatment will reduce pain and