Hammer toe is a type of deformity that causes the toe to begin curling or bending downward rather than pointing forward. This condition can impact any toe on the foot, but it happens most often with the second or third toes. While this is a deformity that could be present at birth, it will usually start developing over time from wearing shoes not fitted properly or the onset of arthritis. The good news is that hammer toe is a condition that is treatable in most situations.
Know the Causes
The toe includes a pair of joints that allow for bending at the bottom and middle. With hammer toe, the middle joint is bent downward or flexed. Some of the common causes of this condition include:
- Trauma or toe injury
- Unusually high foot arch
- Ill-fitting shoes
- Tightened tendons or ligaments in the foot
- Pressure caused by a bunion
Some hammer toe cases may occur with patients that have damage to their peripheral nerve or spinal cord.
Common Risk Factors
Some risk factors can increase the chances that hammer toe will develop, including:
- Constantly wearing pointy-toed or tight-fitting shoes
- Presentation of corns, calluses, or bunions
- Family hammer toe history
For many people, hammer toe will begin to cause a great deal of discomfort while walking. There may also be some pain when trying to move or stretch the impacted toe or the other toes on either side. The symptoms encountered with hammer toe may be mild or they could start to become severe. Notable mild symptoms include:
- Problems walking
- A downward-bending toe
- Calluses or corns
- Inability to wiggle the toes or flex the foot
- Toes that appear claw-like
When you see your podiatrist for hammer toe, there could be several options for treatment. Many people will start to see a notable difference simply by changing their footwear or using shoe inserts. There are different cushions or pads that your podiatrist may recommend. However, if you have a severe hammer toe and cannot flex it at all, then surgical intervention might be the only option available to restore movement.
If you or someone you know is dealing with the hammer toe condition, Mill Creek Foot & Ankle Clinic can help. Call Dr. Hall at (425) 482-6663 today! We can set up a time for an appointment that works best with your schedule.