If you have a hammer toe, the toe is bent at the middle joint, so that it resembles a hammer. At first, hammer toes are flexible and can be corrected with simple measures but, just like your mother told you when you were young, it'll stick if it stays that wayfor too long. And with hammer toes, they really will.
You may also suffer from a corn or callus on the top of the middle joint of your toe or on the tip.
Shoes that narrow toward the toe may make your forefoot look smaller. But they also push the smaller toes into a flexed (bent) position. The toes rub against the shoe, leading to the formation of corns and calluses, which further aggravate the condition. A higher heel forces the foot down and squishes the toes against the shoe, increasing the pressure and the bend in the toe. Eventually, the toe muscles become unable to straighten the toe, even when there is no confining shoe.
A hammer toe is a deformity of the proximal interphalangeal joint of the second, third, or fourth toe causing it to be permanently bent, resembling a hammer. Mallet toe is a similar condition affecting the upper joint.
Hammer toe most frequently results from wearing poorly-fitted shoes that can force the toe into a bent position, such as excessively high heels or shoes that are too short or narrow for the foot. Having the toes bent for long periods of time can cause the muscles in them to shorten, resulting in the hammer toe deformity. This is often found in conjunction with bunions or other foot problems. It can also be caused by muscle, nerve, or joint damage resulting from conditions such as osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, stroke, Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease or diabetes.
Dr. Fosdick can prescribe shoes and orthotic appliances to ease the toes into their proper shape as well as physical therapy to lengthen and strengthen toe muscles so that your toes will lie correctly. The doctor can also operate on the more extreme cases to provide you with the relief you need to correct the deformity.
If you suspect that you may be developing hammer toes or mallet toe, please make an appointment before you require surgical corrective action.