What are hammer toes?
A hammer toe is a deformity of the joint between two long bones of the foot; the metatarsal and phalanx.
The deformity will cause a person’s toe to curl and point down instead of pointing straight.
Causes of a hammer toe:
- High arched feet
- Shoes that don’t fit
- Tight ligaments and tendons in your foot
- Pressure from bunions
- Neurological conditions can cause the toe to change position
- Genetic factors can increase your risk of having a hammer toe (there usually is a family history)
Signs and symptoms
A hammer toe can be classified as mild or sever.
People who have hammer toes may notice that their toes appear to be curled downward. They could have corns or calluses on the tips of the toes. Patients may not be able to flex or wiggle their toes.
Diagnosing hammer toes.
A podiatrist will usually be able to diagnose the condition by looking at your foot.
X-ray imaging can assist in grading the severity of the deformity.
Treatment of hammer toes.
The treatment of a person with hammer toes depends on the severity that has been graded by a podiatrist.
People with mild hammer toes can be treated by off-loading the high pressure areas of the toe by using silicone devices and removing hard skin on the tips of the toe.
Patients can use insoles and orthotics can be used to help correct the position of the toe and reduce pressure points on the foot.
Your podiatrist can assist you with footwear advice to reduce shoe pressure on the toe.
Severe hammer toe require surgical intervention by an orthopedic surgeon or the use of custom footwear.
Corns and calluses are the most common complications that arise from hammer toes.
Pain under the ball of the foot can occur from the position of the metatarsal.
Nerve entrapment conditions are also a common complication due to abnormal movements that occur in the foot.