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Hammer toe (hammertoe) is a painful deformity of the foot that develops from an imbalance of the ligaments, tendons, and muscles around your toe joint(s). This creates an abnormal bend in the middle joints of the second, third or fourth toes. Mallet toe specifically affects the joint nearest to the toenail.

Two Forms of Hammer Toe

Flexible hammer toe- (an earlier, milder form of the disorder in which the toe joint can still be moved.) With the ability to manipulate the toe, there are more treatment options available at this stage. Rigid hammer toe- At this point, the toe tendons have become rigid and the toe cannot be moved. The toe is permanently out of alignment and the patient has fewer non- surgical treatment options.

What Are The Symptoms?

Aside from the obvious physical deformity of a bent toe:

  • Pain in the affected toe particularly when wearing shoes
  • Swelling
  • Burning sensation or redness
  • Inability to straighten your toe
  • Corns or callous on top of the middle joint of the affected toe (from rubbing against shoe)
  • (In severe cases) Ulcer or open wound on the toe

Causes of Hammer Toe

  • Footwear- high heeled shoes, shoes that are too small or tight in the toe box (the toes cannot lie flat)
  • Toe Length- if the second toe is longer than the big toe you are more likely to develop hammer toe
  • Trauma/Injury- A toe that has been broken, stubbed or jammed is more likely to develop the deformity
  • Disease- certain conditions, like arthritis or diabetes put you at greater risk for foot problems like hammer or mallet toe
  • Age- Your risk increases as you age
  • Heredity-There is evidence that hammer toe may run in families
  • Gender – Women are more likely to develop this condition than men

Hammer Toe and Mallet Toe Treatments

Left untreated, hammer toe will progress until surgery may be your only relief. If you have any of the above symptoms, call us here at Advanced Pain Relief Clinic. Our multidisciplinary team is ready to diagnose and treat your hammer toe while the toe is still flexible. Treatment options may include:

  • Manipulation
  • Physical therapy
  • Gentle stretching
  • Prescribed exercises
  • Lifestyle change recommendations