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Hammer Toes

A hammer toe is when the base of the toe points upward and the end of the toe points down. The symptoms of a hammertoe are usually first noticed when a corn develops on the top of the toe, and the toe becomes painful. The toe will typically be most painful with tight fitting shoes.

Do I Have It?

What Is It?

A hammer toe deformity occurs when the base of the toe points upward, and the end of the toe points down. 

What Causes It?

Common causes of a hammer toe deformity include:

  • Wearing shoes that do not fit properly
  • Weak muscles in the foot
  • Heredity–some people are more prone to developing hammer toes.

Other causes of hammer toes are conditions such as osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and stroke.

Signs & Symptoms

The symptoms of a hammer toe are often noticed when a corn develops on the top of the toe, and the toe becomes painful. The toe will typically be most painful with tight-fitting shoes. A callus may even develop under the ball of the foot due to the position of the underlying metatarsal (one of five long bones in the forefoot).

What Do I Do?

Conservative treatment consists of hammer toe cushions, toe spacers for toes that may be rubbing together or overlapping, orthotics, toe straighteners, and shoes with a deep, wide toe box. Non-medicated pads can be used if corns or calluses develop. In some cases, surgical correction is necessary to fix a hammer toe deformity.

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If Left Untreated

If left untreated, the hammer toe deformity may worsen. This can cause discomfort when wearing shoes and can lead to corns developing on the tops as well as the tips of the toes.

Prevention Tips

Wearing shoes that fit well is the best prevention. However, some people develop hammer toes unrelated to shoe wear–for these people wearing orthotics and consulting a podiatrist early on is the best way to prevent the condition from progressing.