Hammer toe is a toe deformity that results in the bending of one or both joints of the second, third, fourth, or fifth toes.

Problems tend to develop with hammer toe when the abnormal bending puts pressure on the toe when wearing shoes.

Usually hammer toes start out with only a mild deformity but if left unchecked the bending of the toe will progress over time leaving surgical treatment as the only option. Early intervention then is the key.

Hammer toe is most commonly caused by a muscle/tendon imbalance which leads to a bending of the toe as a result of structural or neurological changes in the foot over a period of time. The wearing of poorly fitted shoes that compress the toes are the major aggravation for hammer toes.

For those experiencing hammer toe the following symptoms will be familiar:

  • Pain or irritation of the affected toe when wearing shoes
  • A build-up of dead skin on the toe that may result in the discomfort associated with corns or calluses
  • Inflammation, redness or a burning sensation emanating from the toe
  • Contracture of the toe when shoes restrict the full extension of the toe

Diagnosis of hammer toe by a podiatrist is very apparent following a physical examination. Based on the level of severity an appropriate treatment program can be undertaken. For most cases of hammer toe a non-surgical approach will provide the relief that is required.

Non-surgical treatments include:

  • Select more appropriate footwear that reduces the toe pressure on the front of the shoe. It is best to avoid shoes with pointed toes, shoes that are too short, or shoes with high heels.
  • A custom made orthotic device fitted to the shoe may assist with the muscle/tendon imbalance.
  • As corns and calluses can be a side effect of hammer toe the use of prescribed pads may be recommended to protect the corn/callus from further irritation.
  • Splints or small straps¬†applied to help realign the bent toe.

In deciding on the most appropriate treatment process your podiatrist will take into consideration the extent of the deformity, the number of toes involved, your age and your level of activity that involves foot movement.

Contact Bentley Podiatry today for more information.