Hammer toe is a condition where one or more of your toes is curled downwards instead of the traditional facing forward. This condition can happen to any toe, though it is most commonly diagnosed on the middle toes.
Hammer toe can be present at birth, but other injuries and conditions affecting the toe joints can make it appear as well. These include:
Injury to the toe or joint
Improper fitting shoes
Signs and symptoms
Symptoms can range from mild to severe, though it’s best to get your feet checked as soon as possible before it reaches the severe stage. Watch for these symptoms and contact your podiatrist if you notice any of the following:
The formation of corns or calluses
Unable to flex or stretch the affected toe
Hammer toe can be easy to spot and the diagnoses can be made on the spot if all other options for the toe are ruled out. If there has been an injury to the toe, the use of x-rays may be ordered to see if there’s another cause for the malformation such as a bone or muscle injury.
The treatment of hammer toe all depends on the severity and nature of the condition. For those who wear improperly fitted shoes, hammer toe can be corrected by switching shoes. Insoles are prescribed for individuals whose hammer toe is caused by the presence of high arches. Surgery is only used on patients who are unable to move their toes due to a deformed bone or an alignment issue.
Prevention The best way in order to prevent hammer toe is to wear properly fitted shoes as most cases of hammer toe is caused by this.