What are hammertoes?
Beginning as a slight bend of the toe, hammertoes ultimately progress to a fixed deformity where the end of the toe points down like a hammer. This often affects the second toe.
What causes hammertoes to develop?
Primary culprits include:
- Tight shoes
- Previous injuries
- An imbalance between the muscles and the tendons.
Often when the second toe is longer than the first and tight shoes are worn - or shoes that were measured only from the length of the big toe - the second toe will bend downward and progressively become a hammer toe.
What are the symptoms?
Other than hammer-like toes, symptoms include:
- Pain at the affected toes when wearing shoes
- Corns or calluses
- Open sores
How are hammertoes treated?
It is easiest to treat hammer toes in their early and flexible stages before they become rigid. They won’t go away on their own. Treatment can involve:
- Footwear assessment and advice - good fitting shoes with a deep toe box is recommended
- Orthotics to manage the imbalance between the muscles and the tendons
- Splints to realign the toes
- Callus and corn care to alleviate pain if present
- Surgery as a last resort for rigid toes where alternative methods fail