Hammer Toe: Causes and Treatment

Hammer toe (or hammertoe) is a foot deformity that causes your toe to bend at its middle joint. It can affect any toe of your foot and occurs due to an imbalance between the muscles and ligaments that hold your toe in the straight position. Hence, the toe points downwards instead of forward.


Causes of hammer toe

There are many factors that contribute to joint dislocation. These include inherited deformities like flatfoot, arthritis, or injury to the toe. The main culprits are, however, ill-fitting shoes that are too tight or too pointy, pushing the toes out of balance. Pressure from a bunion can also cause hammertoe.

Symptoms of hammer toe

Symptoms may be mild or severe. These include pain or irritation of the affected toe, inflammation, burning, redness, and contracture of the toe. Corns and calluses also may form. Open sores may develop in severe cases. There may be difficulty waking or the inability to wiggle your toes. Hammertoes are progressive and usually become worse over time.

Treatment of hammer toe

The treatment is determined by the severity of your condition and there are a variety of treatment options. For milder cases, called as flexible hammertoes, properly fitting shoes, toe pads, and stretching exercises for toes are all that is needed. For severe cases, known as rigid hammertoes, surgery is usually required which often involves releasing the tendon that is preventing your toe from becoming straight and in some cases, the surgeon may even remove a piece of bone. Recovery period depends on the procedures performed during the surgery.

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