What is Hammer Toe?

A hammer toe is a deformity of the second, third or fourth toes. In this condition, the toe is bent at the middle joint, so that it resembles a hammer. Initially, hammer toes are flexible and can be corrected with simple measures but, if left untreated, they can become fixed and require surgery.

People with hammer toe may have corns or calluses on the top of the middle joint of the toe or on the tip of the toe. They may also feel pain in their toes or feet and have difficulty finding comfortable shoes.

What are the symptoms of Hammer Toe?

  • A hammer-like or claw-like appearance of a toe
  • In mallet toe, a deformity at the end of the toe, giving the toe a mallet-like appearance
  • Pain and difficulty moving the toe
  • Corns and calluses resulting from the toe rubbing against the inside of your footwear

What are the causes of Hammer Toe?

  • Wearing improper footwear — shoes that are too tight in the toe box or shoes that have high heels.
  • Inherited
  • An injury in which you jam or break your toe
  • Abnormal foot mechanics because of nerve and muscle damage to your toe resulting from diabetes (diabetic neuropathy)
  • Other diseases that affect nerves and muscles, such as arthritis or stroke

How is Hammer Toe diagnosed?

  • Physical Examination: Your doctor will examine all your toes, testing whether or not buckled joints can be moved. Your feet will also be checked for any skin changes. Corns (a buildup of dead skin cells) often form between curled toes or on top of buckled joints where shoes rub. If irritated, corns may turn into open wounds and become infected.
  • X-ray: X-rays may be taken of a curled toe to show the amount of deformity. An x-ray may also show whether or not the joint is affected by arthritis.

What are the treatments for Hammer Toe?

  • Anti-inflammatory medications
  • Anti-inflammatory Injections
  • Physiotherapy
  • Orthopedic Accessory
  • Surgery. Hammer toe can be corrected by surgery if conservative measures fail. The actual procedure will depend on the type and extent of the deformity.

How to prevent from Hammer Toe?

  • Shoes that have soft, roomy toe boxes. Shoes should be one-half inch longer than your longest toe. (Note: For many people, the second toe is longer than the big toe.) Avoid wearing tight, narrow, high-heeled shoes. You may also be able to find a shoe with a deep toe box that accommodates the hammer toe. Or, a shoe repair shop may be able to stretch the toe box so that it bulges out around the toe. Sandals may help, as long as they do not pinch or rub other areas of the foot.

NOTE: See Dr Kevin Yip if you have foot pain that’s persistent and that affects your ability to walk properly and carry out other motions with your foot. Call us at (65) 6476 2106 for an appointment.

Related Articles: