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Hammer Toe


Hammertoe is a contracture (bending) of one or both joints of the second, third, fourth, or fifth (little) toes when the long muscles originating from the lower leg overpower the smaller muscles in the foot. This abnormal bending can put pressure on the toe when wearing shoes, causing problems to develop such as pain or irritation of the affected toe when wearing shoes, a buildup of skin (on toe, between two toes, or on the ball of the foot), inflammation, redness, or a burning sensation.

How did I get this?

Family history, arthritis, trauma, bunions, tight footwear, and neurological conditions such as stroke or peripheral neuropathy.

What can I do about it?

  • New shoes that have soft, roomy toe boxes (should be 1cm longer than your longest toe).
  • Avoid wearing tight, narrow, high-heeled shoes.
  • Find a shoe with a deep toe box that accommodates the hammer toe.
  • Sandals may help, as long as they do not pinch or rub other areas of the foot.

What help can I get for this?

  • Podiatrist may prescribe pads designed to shield corns and calluses from irritation.
  • Podiatrist may prescribe orthotic devices placed in your shoe to help control the muscle/tendon imbalance.
  • Podiatrist may advise splints or small straps to realign the bent toe.
  • Possible surgery when the hammertoe has become more rigid and painful, or when an open sore has developed.

When will it get better?

  • This is a progressive deformity which can only be corrected with surgery. Treatment for the symptoms and appropriate footwear will help to keep you comfortable.
  • After surgery the length of the recovery period will vary, depending on the procedure or procedures performed.