Hammertoe is a deformity of the second, third, fourth, or fifth toes. In this condition, the toe is bent at the middle joint, causing it to resemble a hammer. Left untreated, hammertoes can become inflexible and require surgery. People with hammertoe may have corns or calluses on the top of the middle joint of the toe or on the tip of the toe. They may also feel pain in their toes or feet and have difficulty finding comfortable shoes.
Causes of hammertoe include improperly fitting shoes, muscle imbalance, pronation problems, arthritis, and some metabolic conditions such as Diabetes Mellitus.
Treatment for the condition typically involves wearing shoes with soft, roomy toe boxes and doing toe exercises to stretch and strengthen the muscles. Commercially available straps, cushions, or non-medicated corn pads may also relieve symptoms. Visits to the podiatrist on a regular basis can help improve the pain with debridement of tissue buildup and calluses.
In severe cases, hammertoe surgery may be recommended to correct the deformity.