A hammer toe is a deformity that causes your toe to bend or curl downward instead of pointing forward. This deformity can affect any toe on your foot. It most often affects the second or third toe. Although a hammer toe may be present at birth, it usually develops over time due to wearing ill-fitting shoes, such as tight, pointed heels, or arthritis. In most cases, a hammer toe condition is treatable. But if left untreated, hammertoes can become more rigid and will not respond to nonsurgical treatment.
Because of the progressive nature of hammertoes, they should receive early attention.
Certain risk factors increase your likelihood of developing a hammer toe. These include:
Wearing shoes that are too small can force the joint of your toes into a dislocated position. This makes it impossible for your muscles to stretch out. Over time, the practice of wearing improperly fitting shoes increases your risk of developing:
There is a variety of treatment options for hammertoe. The treatment will depend on the severity of your hammertoe and other factors.
Nonsurgical treatment can be undertaken:
If conservative treatments don’t help, when the hammer toe has become more rigid and painful or when an open sore has developed, surgery is needed. To release the tendon that’s preventing your toe from lying flat. In some cases, the surgeon also might remove a piece of bone to straighten your toe.