What are Hammer Toes?
A hammer toe is a deformity of the foot that causes toes to bend or curl in a downward fashion rather than point forward. This deformity is typically the result of a muscle imbalance between the tendons on top and the tendons on the bottom of the toe. Hammer toes can be flexible or rigid and they can affect any toe on your foot. Most cases of hammer toe are reported on the second or third toe.
Women are at a higher risk of developing hammer toe compared to men—this is usually a result of shoe choice. Hammer toes tend to worsen over time, so it’s important to seek medical treatment when they first begin to form. Because of this, hammer toe can become a serious problem—this is especially true for people with diabetes—that could affect your ability to walk.
Types and Causes of Hammer Toe
There are generally two types of hammertoe: flexible and rigid. If the toe can still move at the joint, and the toe still moves, it is considered a flexible hammertoe. This form of hammertoe is the beginning stages of its development and may be able to be reversed non-surgically. If left untreated, your flexible hammertoe can become rigid, meaning the toe can no longer move on its own. This type of “rigid” of hammertoe usually requires surgery to correct.
A hammer toe develops due to an imbalance of the muscles in the toes. This typically causes increased pressure on the tendons and joints in the toe, which when hammer toe develops. While poor shoe choice is typically the main cause of hammer toe, other common causes include:
Hammer Toe Treatment
Treating hammer toe varies depending on the severity of your condition. To treat mild hammer toe, the physicians at Foot Specialists of Cincinnati can start with conservative methods—such as padding, shoe gear selection/modification, or anti-inflammatory medications. Flexible hammer toe(s) can be alleviated by simply wearing properly fitting shoes.
If the toe has become rigid and is causing too much pain, your physician may choose to surgically address the deformity. Surgery is performed in an attempt to reposition the toe, remove deformed or injured bone, and realign
tendon(s) and joint(s). Most procedures are performed on an outpatient basis; they may require downtime or time away from work for recovery.
For more information about the treatment of hammer toes in the greater Cincinnati area, please call our offices at 859-341-9900.