About Hammer Toe
Hammer Toe is a contracture (bending) deformity of one or both joints of the second, third, fourth or fifth toes. This abnormal bending can put pressure on the toe when wearing shoes, causing problems to develop. They usually start out as mild deformities but will get worse over time.
There are two types of Hammer Toes – flexible and rigid. In a flexible Hammer Toe, the joint has the ability to move and can be straightened manually. A rigid Hammer Toe, however, does not have that same ability to move. Movement is very limited and can be extremely painful. This causes extra stress at the ball of the foot, pain and the development of corns and calluses.
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What Causes a Hammer Toe?
A Hammer Toe occurs when the middle joint becomes flexed or bent forward.
Common causes of this include:
- Traumatic toe injury
- Unusually high arched foot
- Tightened ligaments or tendons in the foot
- Pressure from a bunion
Treatment and Prevention
There are several treatment options. These are based on how severe the problem has become. The sooner a person seeks treatment, the more options that person may have.
- Wear properly fitting shoes – this does not necessarily mean expensive shoes.
- Padding any prominent areas around the bony point of the toe may help to relieve pain.
- Medication that reduces inflammation can ease the pain and swelling.
- We Fix Feet clinicians may recommend a special orthotic insert or gel toe prop to wear inside your shoe to reduce pain and lift the toes, preventing them from getting worse.
- Cortisone injections may be used to relieve acute pain.
- There are several surgical techniques used to treat Hammer Toes and a Podiatric Surgeon will advise of options available to you.