Hammer toe is a foot deformity that causes one or more toes on the foot to bend downward instead of lying flat and facing forward. While some people are born with hammer toe, most cases develop later on in life. This is a cosmetic concern for some people but for others, it affects the way they walk and can cause pain. Fortunately, hammer toe is a treatable condition. Let’s take a look at what the symptoms, causes, and treatments are for hammer toe.
What Are The Symptoms of Hammer Toe?
- One or more toes that bend downward (toward the ground)
- Corns or calluses
- Difficulty walking
- Inability to flex the affected toe
- Stiffness or pain when stretching or flexing the affected toe
Hammer toe can be caused by several factors, including:
- A toe injury that damages the middle joint of the toe. The damaged joint prevents the toe from sitting flat and forces the toe to bend downward at the affected joint.
- Arthritis causes degeneration of the joints and can affect the toe’s joint. This degeneration can cause the toe to bend downward.
- Wearing improper or ill-fitting shoes consistently can force the toe’s middle joint to constantly be bent out of form, which can lead to hammer toe.
- Other foot conditions such as bunions or tightened ligaments or tendons in the foot can increase the pressure on the toes (including the joints), which can lead to the development of hammer toe.
- A family history of hammer toe also increases your risk of developing the condition.
Hammer toe can be easily diagnosed through a physical exam with an orthopedic doctor. However, your doctor may ask for imaging tests to take a closer look at the inside of your foot. Because hammer toe can be caused by other foot problems, it’s important to address any other foot injuries or conditions that may have gone undiagnosed or treated. Your doctor will diagnose your hammer toe as mild or severe. Your treatment options will depend on the severity of your hammer toe condition.
Treating Hammer Toe
Mild hammer toe is typically treated by wearing proper fitting footwear and insoles or toe pads, if necessary. If your hammer toe is caused by bunions or corns, you will need to manage those conditions in addition to addressing the hammer toe issue. Gentle stretching exercises can also help relieve hammer toe symptoms.
If you have severe hammer toe, it typically means you cannot flex the toe at all. In this situation, you may need surgery to reposition the toe. Your doctor will discuss treatment options with you based on your medical history and the severity of your hammer toe condition.
Hammer Toe Treatment in Watertown, New York
If you have symptoms of a hammer toe, consider seeing an orthopedic doctor to get a diagnosis and treatment. The sooner you seek treatment, the easier it will be to manage the condition. To make an appointment with the experts at North Country Orthopaedic Group, call (315) 782-1650 or request an appointment online.