What is a Hammer Toe?

A hammer toe occurs in the second, third, or fourth toes. The condition causes the toe to bend upwards at the middle joint, resembling a hammer, thus the name of the condition. Those with hammer toe may also experience corns or calluses on the middle joint of the toe, as well as on the tip of the toe.

What Causes a Hammer Toe?

Hammer toe is most commonly caused by improperly fitting shoes, and can also be caused by a muscle imbalance. If the toe is bent out of normal position for long enough, the muscles in the toe will tighten and not correct itself.

Shoes that narrow in the front are the main culprits of causing hammer toe to develop. By “stacking” the toes into a tight place, the toes rub unnaturally against the shoe’s sole, as well as against other toes, causing painful calluses and corns, which further aggravate the condition.

Treatment Options for Hammer Toes

Treatments for hammer toes often begin by reexamining the patient’s footwear, and recommending a shoe that has a soft, roomy toe box. What many are unaware of, is that the correct sizing for a shoe is one half inch longer than the tip of your big toe. Many shoe repair shops may be able to stretch a shoe’s toe box to make wearing them with a toe abnormality more tolerable. Sandals are also an option for those with hammer toes, as there is no pinching of the toes.

Hammer Toe Exercises

Performing stretches and exercises of the affected toes can also help correct the hammer toe. Physical therapy exercises like crumpling up a towel laid flat on the floor will help the muscles in the toe to strengthen and realign. In severe instances, surgery may be performed to correct hammer toe. This out-patient procedure will depend on the extent of the hammer toe and any other conditions that may be affecting the foot.

Hammer Toe Treatment in Chicagoland

If you suffer from any discomfort because of a hammer toe, it is best to speak with an orthopaedic surgeon to ensure you are on the best path to living a pain free life. As a board certified orthopaedic surgeon who specializes in disorders of the foot and ankle, Dr. Vora can expertly diagnose and treat a hammer toe. For more information about his office locations or to schedule an appointment, please contact Dr. Vora today.