When your feet hurt, it can be difficult to walk or even stand. A hammer toe is one of the most common foot deformities. Even though it feels painful, this is a very treatable condition. And the sooner you get to the doctor the more easily this condition can be fixed.
Diagnosis and Treatment at UVA Health
Hammer toe is easy to diagnose. You're most likely able to tell on your own. If you have a toe that's bent in the middle so that it looks like a claw, you have hammer toe. If you can still pull it straight, you have flexible hammer toe. Rigid hammer toe can't be pulled straight.
Depending on how your toe is arched, you may have also developed a corn, which is a hard callous.
Your doctor will talk to you about your condition. In particular, it's important to talk about how it's affecting your life, how it started, and your treatment preferences. There are several treatment options.
A splint can be used to keep the toe straight. This can also help remove any pressure points if you've developed callouses or corns.
Padding and Taping
Padding, especially around any corns, can help with the pain. Taping, like splinting, can help keep your toe straight. These two methods have helped many people manage hammer toe.
Ultimately, one of the most important things with any foot condition is making sure it doesn't return. Getting shoes that fit correctly with a wide, supportive toe box can help prevent food deformities.
If your pain is severe, surgery may be the best option for you. There are several surgical procedures that can be used.
Depending on the treatment, the shape and motion of your foot may be altered. Some procedures require fusing together the middle joint. Or removing part of your toe entirely.
What Causes Hammer Toe?
Some people are born with hammer toe. But more commonly, it happens later in life. Some of the reasons include:
- Poorly fitting shoes
- Frequent high heel wearing
- Having high arches
- A toe injury
Who's at Risk?
While anyone develop toe deformities, but some things make you more at risk.
- Regularly wearing poorly fitting shoes
- Family history of foot abnormalities
Because wearing high heels can be a cause, women are more at risk.
Can Hammer Toe Be Prevented?
Unfortunately, hammer toe can't always be prevented. But you can reduce your chances of getting it. Wearing shoes that fit is the best way to protect your feet. For children, be sure to check their shoes for fit regularly.