Hammer toe is a common deformity of the foot that can cause pain, difficulty walking, and other uncomfortable symptoms. The foot and ankle specialists at Beacon Orthopaedics provide specialized treatment for hammer toe patients in Cincinnati and Dayton, Ohio and Northern Kentucky.
What is Hammer Toe?
Hammer toe, sometimes referred to as rotated toe or contracted toe, is a deformity of the second joint of the toe. This causes the toe to bend upward at the middle joint and the tip or end of the toe to angle downward. Both men and women can have hammer toes, but the condition is more common in women. This deformity most commonly affects the second toe, though hammer toe is also possible in the third and fourth toes.
Symptoms of Hammer Toe
The most common and obvious symptom of hammer toe is a deformed second (middle) toe joint. Other symptoms may include:
- Difficulty moving the toe
What Causes Hammer Toe?
Hammer toe is a progressive deformity that is caused by weakened muscles in the foot or leg that lead tendons or ligaments to pull the toe. Risk factors for hammer toes include:
- Wearing high heels
- Wearing shoes that are too narrow, fit poorly, or lack proper arch support
- Neuromuscular diseases
- Toe injury or trauma2
What Are the Types of Hammer Toe?
Technically, hammer toe is a bend in the second toe joint. The term “hammer toe” is often used interchangeably with “claw toe” or “mallet toe,” though these are different variants of the deformity.
- Claw toe: In patients with claw toe, the bend is in the first and second toe joints
- Mallet toe: In patients with mallet toe, the bend is in the third toe joint
Treatment for Hammer Toe
Non-Surgical Treatment for Hammer Toe
At Beacon Orthopaedics, our foot and ankle experts always prescribe the least invasive treatment necessary to alleviate a patient’s symptoms. In the case of hammer toe, non-surgical treatment is best performed in the early stages of the deformity when the toe joint is still flexible. Non-surgical treatment for hammer toe includes:
- Changing footwear: Look for flat shoes that have a roomy toe area and are one-half inch longer than the longest toe.
- Physical therapy and stretching
- Cushions, straps, or corn pads to help alleviate pain
Surgery for Hammer Toe
When the deformed toe joint is no longer moveable and non-surgical treatment has not been effective, our doctors can perform surgery for hammer toe. Hammer toe surgery is an outpatient procedure that may involve lengthening the tendons, tendon transfer, removal of part of the joint, or joint fusion.3
Contact Beacon Orthopaedics
If you suffer from the often painful symptoms of hammer toe, our orthopedic surgeons can help. To schedule a consultation with a foot and ankle specialist, contact Beacon Orthopaedics. We are proud to serve patients from Cincinnati and Dayton, Ohio and Northern Kentucky.
1 Mayo Clinic. Hammertoe and mallet toe. Available: https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/hammertoe-and-mallet-toe/symptoms-causes/syc-20350839#:~:text=A%20hammertoe%20is%20curled%20due,normally%20hold%20the%20toe%20straight. Accessed June 16, 2022.
2 Cleveland Clinic. Hammertoes. Available: https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/17038-hammertoes. Accessed June 16, 2022.
3 American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. Hammer toe. Available: https://orthoinfo.aaos.org/en/diseases–conditions/hammer-toe. Accessed June 16, 2022.