Brief Outline of Hammer Toe
Hammer toe get its name from the hammer-like or claw-like appearance of the affected toe. The toe bends upward at the first joint and down at the second causing this appearance. Ill-fitting shoes and muscle or nerve damage to the flexor muscle group may result in this condition. Corns and/or calluses may also develop due to the pressure of the toe against the shoes.
Anatomy and Physiology of Hammer Toe
The proximal phalanx of a toe (most often that of the second toe) is extended, and the second and distal phalanges are flexed, forming a hammer-like appearance. This causes pressure on the ball of the foot and causes the mid-toe area to rub against the top of the shoe. This could lead to corns or calluses. Diabetes, stroke, arthritis, or prior injury could also cause an unnatural flexing of the toes.
Cause of Hammer Toe
Ill-fitting shoes. Muscle or nerve damage in the flexor muscle group.
Signs and Symptoms of Hammer Toe
Hammer-like appearance of the toe. Pain and difficulty moving the toe. Corns and calluses may develop on the affected toe.
Complications If Left Hammer Toe Unattended
When left unattended, hammer toe can lead to other problems such as arthritis, painful corns and calluses, and flexor tendinitis. It may also lead to a complete inability to extend or straighten the toe.
Immediate Treatment for Hammer Toe
Switch to roomier shoes. Anti-inflammatory medication or injection.
Long-term Prognosis for Hammer Toe
Surgery may be required if the toe has become inflexible and other treatments do not work.