A hammertoe is a toe that becomes bent and contracted at one of the joints. This most commonly occurs in the second toe, but may occur in any toe. There are two types of hammertoes. Flexible hammertoes are less severe and the affected toes are still moveable at the joint. With rigid hammertoes, the tendons tighten and the joints become misaligned and immobile.

Causes of Hammer Toe

Hammertoes are caused by an abnormal muscle balance in the toes, which leads to increased pressures on the toe tendons and joints. Heredity, trauma, arthritis, and wearing tight shoes can all lead to hammer toes.

Symptoms of Hammer Toes

  • Pain and corns at the top of the bent toe.
  • Redness and swelling at the joint contracture.
  • Restricted or painful motion of the toe joint.
  • Pain in the ball of the foot at the base of the affected toe.
  • Nonsurgical Treatment

Ensuring that shoes are appropriate size to accommodate the size of the foot
Padding the hammertoe to minimize pressure and taping the toes to alter the muscle imbalance.

  • Alleviating pain through the use of anti-inflammatory drugs and cortisone injections.
  • Wearing shoe inserts to control foot function.

Surgical Treatment

Surgery is recommended when you have severe pain in the toe that affects your daily activities and non-surgical remedies have not helped. For flexible deformities, tendon transfers may be performed to better align the toe. Once the deformity becomes fixed, a section of bone must be removed and the toe pinned in place until healed.