Published: Nov. 11, 2010
Updated: May 25, 2011
A hammer toe is a deformity of the second, third, or fourth toes. The toe is bent at the middle joint, which causes it to resemble a hammer.
Hammer toe can be caused by:
Symptoms of hammer toe include:
A physical examination by your doctor will confirm if you have hammer toe.
You should see your doctor if you have characteristic toe deformity and have persistent foot pain that affects your ability to walk properly and carry out other daily foot motions.
Treatment begins with new shoes -- shoes with soft, spacious, wide toe boxes. Avoid tight, narrow, or high-heeled shoes.
Your doctor may recommend simple toe exercises to stretch and strengthen muscles, as well as straps, cushions or non-medicated corn pads to relieve symptoms.
In severe cases where other treatments do not work, surgery may be recommended.
Surgery is typically done on an outpatient basis with a local anesthetic. The actual procedure depends on the type and extent of the deformity.
If the toe has some flexibility, the surgeon may make a small incision in the toe, releasing the tendon. If the toe is inflexible and rigid, the surgeon may cut or realign tendons and also remove pieces of bone to straighten the toe.
Watch an educational video about treatment for hammer toe.