A hammer toe is a deformed toe whose end bends downwards in a claw-like fashion. It usually affects the second, third or fourth toe. A corn may form on the top of the toe, and a callus may form underneath it. It may be caused by a muscle imbalance or poorly fitting shoes, when toes are unable to be fully extended. A flexible hammer toe can be manually straightened out, while a rigid hammer toe cannot be pulled straight.
A physical exam will confirm the presence of a hammer toe. An X-ray can show more about the patients specific condition.
Treating a hammer toe before it becomes fixed in position is essential. Orthotics, splints, or wearing shoes with roomy toe-boxes may help less severe cases of hammer toe. In severe cases, surgery may be performed.
Pain and walking difficulty may increase, and a permanent deformity may occur. Repeated friction to the tip or the top of the toe can lead to wounds and infection.
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