Many disorders can affect the joints in the toes, causing pain and preventing the foot from functioning as it should. A Hammer toe
the joint at the end of the toe cannot straighten. Excessive rubbing of the hammer toe against the top of the shoe can lead to pain and the development of a corn. The tip of the toe is often turned
down against the shoe causing pressure and discomfort.
Hammer toe is often caused by wearing shoes that do not fit properly. If shoes are too small either in length or width, then the toes are held in a shortened position for long periods and the muscles
eventually shorten and pull the toes into the bent position. Alternatively it can be caused by overactivity in the extensor digitorum dongus muscle (right) and a weakness in the counteracting muscle
under the foot, such as flexor digitorum longus. Sometimes it can be a congenital condition, meaning it is present from birth. It is also more common in those with arthritis in the foot or
People with a hammer toe will often find that a corn or callus will develop on the top of the toe, where it rubs against the top of the footwear. This can be painful when pressure is applied or when
anything rubs on it. The affected joint may also be painful and appear swollen.
Your healthcare provider will examine your foot, checking for redness, swelling, corns, and calluses. Your provider will also measure the flexibility of your toes and test how much feeling you have
in your toes. You may have blood tests to check for arthritis, diabetes, and infection.
Non Surgical Treatment
Treating hammertoe involves straightening the toe, making hammertoes
tendons in the toes flexible again, and
preventing the problem from returning. Some simple treatments include Soaking your feet every day in warm water, then stretching your toes and ankles by pointing your toes. Using over-the-counter
pads, cushions or straps to decrease discomfort. Splinting the toe to keep it straight and to stretch the tendons of the foot. Exercising the toes to relax the foot tendons (a session with a physical
therapist may help you get started with foot exercises). One simple exercise is to place a small towel on the floor and then pick it up using only your toes. You also can grasp at carpet with your
toes or curl your toes up and down repeatedly. Wearing shoes that fit properly and give toes plenty of room to stretch out.
The technique the surgeon applies during the surgery depends on how much flexibility the person's affected toes still retain. If some flexibility has still been preserved in their affected toes, the
hammer toes might be corrected through making a small incision into the toe so the surgeon can manipulate the tendon that is forcing the person's toes into a curved position. If, however, the
person's toes have become completely rigid, the surgeon might have to do more than re-aligning the person's tendons. Some pieces of bone may have to be removed so the person's toe has the ability to
straighten out. If this is the case, some pins are attached onto the person's foot afterwards to fix their bones into place while the injured tissue heals.
In addition to wearing proper shoes and socks, walking often and properly can prevent foot injury and pain. The head should be erect, the back straight, and the arms relaxed and swinging freely at
the side. Step out on the heel, move forward with the weight on the outside of the foot, and complete the step by pushing off the big toe. Exercises specifically for the toe and feet are easy to
perform and help strengthen them and keep them flexible. Helpful exercises include the following. Raise and curl the toes 10 times, holding each position for a count of five. Put a rubber band around
both big toes and pull the feet away from each other. Count to five. Repeat 10 times. Pick up a towel with the toes. Repeat five times. Pump the foot up and down to stretch the calf and shin muscles.
Perform for 2 or 3 minutes.