A hammer toe is a toe that is contracted at
the PIP joint (middle joint in the toe), potentially leading to severe
pressure and pain. Ligaments and tendons that have tightened cause the
toe's joints to curl downwards. Hammer toes may occur in any toe except
the big toe. There is often discomfort at the top part of the toe due to
rubbing against the shoe.
Hammer toes are classified based on the
mobility of the toe joints. There are two types - flexible and rigid. In a
flexible hammer toe, the joint has the ability to move. This type of
hammer toe can be straightened manually. A rigid hammer toe does not have
that same ability to move. Movement is very limited and can be extremely
painful. This sometimes causes foot movement to become restricted leading
to extra stress at the ball-of-the-foot, and possibly causing pain and the
development of corns and calluses. Follow this link to learn more about
hammer toe products.
Hammer toes result from a muscle imbalance
which causes the ligaments and tendons to become unnaturally tight. This
results in the joint curling downward. Arthritis can also lead to many
different forefoot deformities, including hammer toes.
Treatment and Prevention
Changing the type of footwear worn is a
very important step in the treatment of hammer toes. When choosing a shoe,
make sure the toe box (toe area) is high and broad, and can accommodate
the hammer toes. A shoe with a high, broad toe box will provide enough
room in the forefoot area so that there is less friction against the toes.
Other conservative treatments include using
forefoot products designed to relieve hammer toes, such as hammer toe
crests and hammer toe splints. These devices will help hold down the
hammer toe and provide relief to the forefoot. Gel toe shields and gel toe
caps are also recommended to eliminate friction between the shoe and the
toe, while providing comfort and lubrication.
If the problem persists, consult your