Hammer Toe Management
Where To Find The Latest Treatment Information.

What Is A Hammer Toe?

A hammer toe is a toe which curls over or is flexed at the proximal (middle) toe joint of the smaller toes.

This problem may be either flexible or rigid based on the movement available at the affected joint.

What Causes A Hammer Toe?

There are a number of causes. These may include:

1. Bone and muscle imbalances. Unstable foot posture can result in overuse or excessive contraction of muscles and tendons inserting into the toes. This can allow development to occur. This may be seen with excessive pronation (roll-in) or excessive supination (roll-out) which causes muscular and/or bone imbalance.

2. Arthritis can also give rise to hammer toe development. Changes in joints associated with arthritis can cause hammer toes to develop.

3. Prolonged use of incorrect or poorly fitting footwear may also contribute to the deformation of toes.

How Are Hammer Toes Prevented?

Preventing their development means controlling bone and muscle imbalances due to malalignment. This is usually carried out using a specific combination of exercises, mobilisation, orthotic shoe inserts and occasionally hammer toe splints are used.

How Are Hammer Toes Treated?

  • Initially, the hammer toe treatment may involve:

    1. Foot mobilisation. This may be indicated and found to be quite useful if the toe problem is flexible.

    2. Review of footwear. Advice on footwear will be issued when needed. This may include recommendations to use shoes with a broad or deep toe box.

    3. Various types of useful toe supports including hammer toe crests or toe bolster supports may be suggested.

    4. Toe caps lined with gel. These can help where skin irritation or corns occur.

    5. Orthoses or orthotic shoe inserts to control the causative factor, namely the unstable feet, should be used when needed.

    6. Hammer toe surgery. This may be indicated if all other conservative treatment options fail.

  • What happens if hammer toes are left untreated?

    Hammer toes can cause abnormal pressure and skin irritation. Calluses and corns can form and these can develop into more serious pathological foot problems and, in serious cases, ulceration or infection may occur.

    Early treatment can lead to successful results without hammer toe surgery if you have a flexible hammer toe deformity. If your hammer toe is rigid then the only real effective cure is usually hammer toe surgery. If you need further assistance, consult your podiatrist, chiropodist or foot doctor.

    For more information on hammer toes, you can visit:

    1. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/hammertoe-and-mallet-toe/symptoms-causes/syc-20350839

    2. Posture Podiatry

    WARNING : This information is for educational purposes only and is not intended to replace professional podiatric advice. Treatment will vary between individuals depending upon your diagnosis and presenting complaint. An accurate diagnosis can only be made following personal consultation with a Podiatrist, your Doctor or your foot specialist.

    Still have a question about your foot problem, leg pain or you just need some footwear advice?

    Visit our Foot Problems page and ask us a question about your specific problem. We'll do our best to help.

    To find a Podiatrist or Foot Doctor near you visit our Find a Podiatrist page and click on your country.

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