Hammer toe is a treatable condition in which one or more toes become deformed and curl downward due to arthritis, a muscle imbalance, or ill-fitting shoes. Other causes include tightened ligaments in the foot, a high foot arch, or nerve damage. Over 200,000 cases of hammer toe occur in the U.S. each year. In some cases, newborn babies are born with this condition, but hammer toe usually develops over a long period of time.
A common visual symptom of hammer toe is the downward bending of the affected toe along with the inability to flex or wiggle the toe. There is also a certain amount of pain and discomfort associated with this condition when walking, putting on shoes, or moving the toe. A hard corn or callus may develop on top of the affected toe, which can cause further discomfort, and the toe joint can swell and turn bright red in color.
A doctor may conduct a medical exam including x-rays to see which type of hammer toe a person has and how much damage the toe has gone through. If a person can move their toe at the joint, then it’s a flexible hammer toe, which means the condition is in its early stages. If the toe cannot be moved at the joint, then the joint is not in alignment, which means the condition is in an advanced stage.
Flexible hammer toe is a mild form of this condition which is treatable with over-the-counter remedies like cushions, pads, insoles, pain medications, and muscle relaxants. Rigid hammer toe will require outpatient surgery to reposition and realign the toe and tendons. If one toe develops this condition and it’s left untreated, then the other toes are at risk of developing hammer toe, which is why it’s important to get hammer toe treated as soon as possible.Read More