Hammer Toe

Hammer Toe – common and painful deformities in the three middle toes where they appear to always be bent. This can lead to other problems such as altered gait, callus or corns or foot pain. There are two types of hammer toes- flexible and rigid. Unfortunately if a hammer toe is rigid, the joint may be permanently deformed and surgery would be required. If it is flexible at David Brown Podiatry we aim to treat it with toe props, stretches, removal of any hard skin or corns and footwear advice.

Hammer toes can be a serious problem in people with diabetes or poor circulation and can lead to serious complications if not treated and maintained.

What causes hammer toes?

The muscles of each toe work in pairs. When the toe muscles get out of balance, a hammer toe can form. Muscle imbalance puts a lot of pressure on the toe’s tendons and joints. This pressure forces the toe into a hammerhead shape. This can be caused by wearing poorly fitted shoes or high heels, having an arch disorder of the inside of the foot (too high or too low) or certain types of arthritis.

What are the symptoms of hammer toes?

  • Pain in or around where toe bends
  • Callus/Corns forming on the top of the toe joint
  • Swelling or redness
  • Restricted movement.
  • Pain on the ball of the foot under the bent toe.

Treatment options:

  • Footwear with plenty of room in the toe box area (ie: where the toes sit). Any footwear should have enough width and depth to accommodate free movement of all toes.
  • Don’t wear heels higher than 5 cm.
  • Gently massaging the toe may help relieve pain.
  • Put ice packs wrapped in cloth on the hammer toe to reduce painful swelling.
  • Painkillers
  • Toe extensor and flexor tendon stretches
  • Padding or strapping
  • Surgery as a last resort and if toe is rigid and causing other problems

Other types of toe deformities are claw and mallet toes. Both vary slightly from hammer toes but complications that may occur and treatment options are similar.

The earlier diagnosed and treated the better!!

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