What is a Hammer toe?
A hammertoe is the bending of the toe at the first joint which occurs when a muscle imbalance in the toe causes increased pressure on the joint. Heredity, trauma, and arthritis can all lead to hammer toes as well as tight fitting or pointed toe shoes. This condition commonly affects the “lesser digits”, or the second through fifth toes. Females are more commonly affected by hammer toe than males.
There are Two Types of Hammer toe:
Flexible Hammer Toes: These hammertoes are still moveable at the joint and can be diagnosed and treated while still in the developmental stage.
Rigid Hammer Toes: These are more developed than flexible hammertoes and are often seen in patients with severe arthritis or in patients who have put off professional treatment. Surgery is the usual course of treatment for rigid hammertoes due to tightness in the tendons and joint misalignment.
Hammer Toe Symptoms
Symptoms of hammertoes include:
- Pain at the top of the toe when pressure is applied
- Corns on top of the joint
- Restricted or painful motion of the joint
- Pain in the ball of the foot at the base of the toe
How to Relieve Pain Caused by Hammer Toes
- Apply a non-medicated hammertoe pad to decrease pressure.
- Avoid shoes with a narrow toe-box or heels higher than 2 inches.
- Apply ice packs to reduce swelling.
- Wear loose-fitting shoes to protect the foot while reducing pressure.
Hammer Toe Treatment Options
Treatment options vary depending on the type and severity of the hammertoe making early intervention extremely important. Your podiatrist can recommend the appropriate line of treatment upon examination of the affected area.
- Padding and taping the area to minimize stress and pain
- Medication such as anti-inflammatory drugs or cortisone injections
- Orthotic devices to control foot function and prevent worsening of the hammertoe
- Surgical procedures to remove the bony prominence and restore alignment of the joint. Severe hammertoes many require more complex procedures.
Hammer Toe Prevention
- Wear supportive shoes.
- Talk to your podiatrist about custom shoe inserts.
- Avoid shoes with narrow or pointed toe boxes.
When to Visit a Podiatrist
It is important to visit your podiatrist when pain persists in order diagnose and treat the problem early. If left untreated, hammertoes can become more rigid making non-surgical treatment less of an option.
Here at Podiatry Associates, we will help you determine the best possible treatment option to provide the relief you need. Contact us today!
Your podiatric physician/surgeon has been trained specifically and extensively in the diagnosis and treatment of all manner of foot conditions. This training encompasses all the intricately related systems and structures of the foot and lower leg including neurological, circulatory, skin, and the musculoskeletal system, which includes bones, joints, ligaments, tendons, muscles, and nerves.
The information on this page is provided by The American Podiatric Medical Association.