About Hammer toe
Hammertoe describes progressive symptoms of deformity that involve one or more of your toes. As the condition develops, the middle joint of the toe begins to point upward instead of lying flat. This deformity is the main symptom of hammertoe. As the joint becomes progressively disfigured, it can become difficult to fit your foot into shoes. If the raised joint rubs against the inner surface of your shoe, it may begin to develop corns or calluses from the friction. Eventually, the tendons in the foot and toe can tighten to a point that makes it impossible for you to move the toe. This is called a “rigid hammertoe”.
Hammertoe gradually develops over the course of years.
- Shoes: High heels, shoes with a tight toe box, or shoes with poor arch support can put excess pressure on the toes. Over time, this pressure can result in the development of hammertoe.
- Genetics: Those with flat feet or low arches may naturally put excess pressure on the toe joints as a result of their foot shape. These foot shapes may increase your risk of developing hammertoe. Additionally, if your second toe is longer than your big toe, it has a greater risk of developing hammertoe.
- Neuromuscular conditions: Certain neuromuscular disorders such as diabetes, Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease, or arthritis can lead to muscular imbalances and weakness in the foot. These conditions can increase your risk of developing hammertoe.
- Age: Hammertoe becomes more common as you age.
- Sex: Women are more prone to developing hammertoe than men.
Aside from deformity in the joint, hammertoe can lead to symptoms such as:
- Pain in the ball of the foot
- Pain at the top of the deformed toe
- Redness and swelling
- Corns and calluses, especially on the affected toe
- Lack of mobility
Hammertoe may continue to get worse over time, especially if it goes untreated. If you begin to notice the symptoms of hammertoe, talk to a health care provider. With proper treatment, hammertoe can be managed to prevent the condition from worsening.
Below is a list of treatment options to manage hammertoe. During your appointment, talk to your health care provider about your symptoms and discuss what plan is right for you.