Hammer Toes

Experiencing pain or irritation when wearing shoes?

A Hammertoe is a deformity that causes your toe to bend or curl downward instead of pointing forward. This “abnormal” position can almost be referred to a “normal” as so many people have them. We only become involved in their treatment when the toe position produces pain, infection or irritation within footwear. Women are more likely to get pain associated with hammertoes than men because of footwear.

Hammer Toe Overview

The most common complaint with hammertoes is rubbing and irritation on the top of the bent toe. Over time this rubbing irritates the affected skin that either produces a blister, corn are in severe cases a localised ulceration or sinus formation often resulting in an infection. Sometimes the position can cause irritation to the nail plate or its border producing ingrown nails, Subungual Exostosis or nail thickening (Onychogryphosis).

I am often told by patients that they are surprised something so small can produce so much pain, however, the problem can be serious and can stop people from walking so it is vital that professional, specialist help is taken.

Your toe contains two joints that allow it to bend at the middle and bottom.  A Hammertoe occurs from a muscle and ligament imbalance around the toe joint which causes the middle joint of the toe (the Proximal Inter Phalangeal Joint -PIPJ), to bend and become stuck in this position.

This deformity can affect any toe on your foot; however, it most often affects the second toe or 5th toe.

  • a toe injury
  • arthritis
  • a high foot arch
  • Wearing shoes that don’t fit properly.  If shoes are too tight, too short, or too pointy, they push the toes out of balance. Pointy, high-heeled shoes put particularly severe pressure on the toes.
  • tightened ligaments or tendons in the foot
  • pressure from a bunion (when your big toe points inward toward your second toe)

The correction of any foot disorder is dependent on the provider understanding the cause of that disorder. If you thing you have a hammer toe, please contact our rooms to arrange an appointment with Mr Edwards.

He will be able to perform a physical examination of your foot and your toe, X-rays may be required and a full explanation of your condition will be given.

Surgery is recommended when your toe is not moving in the flexed position and you have either:

  • Pain
  • Infection
  • Irritation in footwear
  • Painful corns on the toes flexed position

 Surgery options include surgically releasing the tendon to help lower your toes position and bone surgery to fuse the toe joint so that toe straightens.

Hammer toes can be caused by tight fitting footwear. Tight fitting hosiery, in-particular tight fitting “onsies” for infants can also harm the growing foot and cause toe deformities. It’s best to cut to young feet free and let cover them in cosy, loose fitting clothing. Other toe shapes are inherited and there is little we can do to influence their shape. In general, give your toes room to breathe, treat them like fingers rather than sausages and do your best to accommodate their shape rather than force them into spaces that are too tight.

Mr Edwards can discuss the surgical treatment options available for your Hammertoe during your consultation.

For further advice or to make an appointment, please contact one of our professional team, our numbers and contact details are listed on the Contact page.