Hammertoe deformity is a condition that occurs when the toe bends downward instead of pointing forward. It can affect any toe on the foot, but it is common with the second or third toes.
The toe has two joints that enable it to bend at the middle and base. A hammer toe is formed when the middle joint is dislocated. This dislocation is frequently caused by arthritis, severe toe injury, muscular imbalances, wearing ill-fitting shoes, tight ligaments or tendons in the foot, and pressure from bunions.
A hammertoe can be painful, making it difficult to walk. It makes it nearly impossible to stretch or move the affected toe normally, including simple movements like wiggling the toes.
In the early stages (while the toe is still flexible), hammer toe can be treated using conservative measures. These include:
Daily Toe Stretching
Toe Exercises. Example include towel crunches or picking marbles up off the floor
Custom shoe inserts from your podiatrist
Changing to footwear with more toe box space
Use of corn pads
Hammertoe surgery is recommended for severe cases, where the toe has become “fixed” (no longer flexible). Surgery is focused on repositioning the toe, fixing tendon alignment, and possibly removing deformed bone.
The best way to prevent hammer toe is by wearing low, supportive and comfortable shoes. If you must wear high heels, try keeping them under 2 inches. Shoes with high heels and no arch support create imbalances in the muscles and uneven stretching of the ligaments over time, placing one at greater risk of hammertoe deformity.