What are hammer toes?
A hammer toe is a deformity of the second, third or fourth toe. In this condition the toe is bent at the middle joint so it has the appearance of a hammer. Over time, the toe will often stiffen and become fixed in this bent position.
What are the symptoms of hammer toes?
A hammer toe will often sit higher than your other toes and it's 'hammer' shape will be easily noticeable. A corn or callus may appear on the top of the toe or at the tip of the toe as a result of it not sitting in alignment with the other toes and, therefore, being vulnerable to extra shoe pressure. Pain often is present as a result of the hard skin that builds up.
What are the causes of hammer toes?
Hammer toes happen either because of problems with the tendons inside the foot, or because the toes are squashed by poorly fitting shoes and/or socks. Hammer toes are most common in feet with bunions, and in high-arched feet.
What should I do if I have a hammer toe?
Seeking advice from a podiatrist is helpful. Your podiatrist can advise on appropriate footwear and identify whether conservative treatment is adequate or if a surgical referral is necessary.
What shouldn't I do if I have a hammer toe?
Wearing footwear that causes the awkwardly lying toe to be subjected to even greater pressure is not advisable, a deep toe box and wide fitting are essential to maintain comfort.
Are there any long-term effects from hammer toes?
The affected toe often does not have an aesthetically pleasing appearance. Surgery may eventually be required to correct and straighten a hammer toe where conservative treatment is not enough.
Podiatry treatment for hammer toes
Splints made of rubber or silicone may help control mild cases. Any pain from corns and calluses may be eased by having these removed with a scalpel blade by your podiatrist. Choosing shoes of a more generous fit or with uppers made from soft materials is advisable. A protective pad over the area can be provided by your podiatrist to help reduce symptoms.