What is a Hammer Toe?
There are small joints in each of your toes. A distortion to the middle joint of the second, third or fourth toe is a condition called the hammer toe. It is called a hammer toe because the toe is bent at the middle joint making it look like a hammer.
What Causes a Hammer Toe?
Some people are predisposed due to their family history to develop hammer toes. Other people may develop them by wearing shoes that do not fit properly. If the joint cannot straighten and stretch, or if a toe is held in a bent position for an extended period of time a hammer toe can occur.
Examination and Diagnosis
The first step towards diagnosis is to be examined by a qualified healthcare professional in musculoskeletal disorders and podiatric medicine. They will examine your feet, assess the mobility of your joints, and see if there is pain.
Conservative (non-surgical) treatment includes getting new shoes with a wide toe box to allow more room for the toes. If necessary, exercises can be prescribed to stretch or strengthen muscles. A medicated corn pad can also be used to reduce pressure on the toes. If non-surgical treatment fails surgery may be necessary.