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Health Library

Hammer Toe

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.

Common Causes

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.


The first step towards diagnosis is an examination 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.

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