Hammer toe develops when there is an imbalance around the joint and throughout the ligaments and muscles of a person’s toe. The middle joint bends into an undesired position and remains off balance when a hammer toe is present. The bent toe will rub on shoes and other toes and the friction can cause discomfort and redness. Toes which curl, usually the smallest toes, are also considered hammer toes. Women are more prone to the condition because of the shoes they wear, such as heels and pointed toe shoes. Those with poor circulation or diabetes can also be more prone to developing the condition and they can be particularly troubling. There are two forms of hammer toe:
The muscles in human toes work in connected pairs. When the muscles are imbalanced and can’t work together, a hammer toe can form. Pressure on the tendons and joints is increased and causes the deformity. The hammerhead shape is the result. The imbalance is traditionally caused by:
Signs or symptoms usually involve:
Changing to properly fitting shoes can help relieve the pressure on the joints and allow the toe to go back to a normal position. When the hammer toe is very severe, surgery may be required. Surgery will be employed when other therapies have not been successful. Typically, physical therapy and anti-inflammatory medication will be tried prior to a surgical procedure.