Hammer Toe

(Hammertoe)

Definition

A hammer toe is a toe that tends to remain bent at the middle joint in a claw-like position. There are 2 types of hammer toe:
  • Flexible hammer toe—can be straightened by hand
  • Rigid hammer toe—cannot be pulled straight and can be extremely painful. The position of the toe can also lead to corns or calluses. These may also be painful.
Hammertoe
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Causes

Hammer toe may be present at birth or develop later in life due to tendons that have tightened, causing the toe's joints to curl downward.Occasionally, all toes may be bent. This may be due to problems with the peripheral nerves or the spinal cord.

Risk Factors

Factors that increase your chance of getting hammer toe include:
  • Family history of hammer toe
  • Arthritis
  • Foot and ankle abnormalities
  • Frequent use of the inappropriate footwear:
    • Shoes that don't fit properly, for either an adult or child
    • High heels
    • Narrow-toed shoes
  • The foot having a high arch
  • Muscle weakness in the foot
  • Nerve damage in the foot
  • Injury to a toe

Symptoms

If you have any of these symptoms, do not assume it is due to hammer toe. Talk to your doctor about symptoms such as:
  • A toe that curls down
  • Corns on the top of a toe
  • Calluses on the sole of the foot or bottom of the toe
  • Pain in the middle joint of a toe
  • Discomfort on the top of a toe
  • Difficulty finding any shoes that fit comfortably
  • Cramping in a toe, and sometimes also the foot and leg
  • Difficult or painful motion of a toe joint
  • Pain in the ball of the foot or at the base of a toe

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