Hammer toes are a deformity of the second, third or fourth toes. The toe is bent at the middle joint so it actually resembles a hammer. Initially hammer toes are flexible and can be corrected with simple measures but if left untreated they can become fixed and may require surgery. They usually result from shoes that don't fit correctly or a muscle imbalance, usually in combination with one or more other factors, such as previous injuries or genetics.
Other than bent toes, the symptoms include:
- Pain when wearing shoes
- Corns or calluses on the toes
- Open sores
It is easiest to treat hammer toes in their early stages, prior to them becoming rigid or fixed. Hammertoe will not go away without treatment. Treatment for hammertoes generally begins with footwear advice. Properly fitted shoes with a wide/deep toe box are recommended. Visit your podiatrist to identify the exact cause and for advice on removing corns callous.
Custom orthotics can control the imbalance between the muscles and the tendons. To realign the toes, splints are often used. Surgery is only suggested for hammertoes when conservative options are exhausted.