H is for Hammer Toes

May 1, 2013

Hammer toes is a problem in which the proximal IP joint is prominent and subject to pressure from the shoes causing corns.

Hammer toes, also known as hammertoes, are a common foot deformity that affects the middle joints of the toes. They usually occur in the second, third, or fourth toes, causing them to bend or curl downward instead of pointing forward. This condition can be flexible, meaning the toe can still be manually straightened, or rigid, where the toe is fixed in a bent position.


  1. Muscular imbalance: Hammer toes often result from an imbalance in the muscles and tendons that control toe movement. When the muscles on one side of the toe are stronger or tighter than the opposing muscles, they can cause the toe to bend and become stuck in a flexed position.
  2. Footwear: Wearing shoes that are too tight or narrow in the toe box can squeeze the toes together, leading to an increased risk of hammer toes. High heels can also contribute to the condition by forcing the toes into a bent position.
  3. Foot structure: Certain foot structures, such as flat feet or high arches, can place excessive pressure on the toes and increase the likelihood of developing hammer toes.
  4. Genetics: Some people may have a genetic predisposition to developing hammer toes.


  1. Toe deformity: The affected toe(s) will appear bent or curled downward, resembling a hammer or claw.
  2. Pain or discomfort: Hammer toes can cause pain or discomfort when walking or wearing shoes, particularly if the bent toe rubs against the inside of the shoe.
  3. Corns and calluses: The bent toe can create areas of increased pressure and friction, leading to the formation of corns or calluses on the top, tip, or ball of the affected toe.
  4. Limited range of motion: In some cases, the toe may become stiff or rigid, making it difficult to straighten.


  1. Footwear modifications: Wearing shoes with a roomy toe box and low heels can help accommodate the bent toes and reduce pressure on the affected area.
  2. Toe exercises and stretches: Performing specific exercises and stretches can help strengthen and stretch the muscles and tendons in the toes, potentially improving flexibility and reducing the severity of the deformity.
  3. Padding and splinting: Cushioning the affected area with padding or using splints can provide support, alleviate pressure, and help straighten the toe.
  4. Orthotic devices: Custom orthotic inserts may be recommended to address any underlying foot abnormalities and provide proper foot alignment and support.
  5. Medications: Over-the-counter pain relievers or anti-inflammatory medications may help reduce pain and inflammation associated with hammer toes.
  6. Surgery: In severe cases where conservative treatments are ineffective, surgery may be considered to correct the deformity. The specific surgical procedure will depend on the severity and flexibility of the hammer toe.


Comments are closed.