Hammer Toe

Hammer toe is a common condition that can be treated by a MaineHealth provider. We evaluate and treat hammer toe and all kinds of foot problems in adults and children.

What is hammer toe?

Hammer toe is when a toe is bent downward, often into a claw-like position. The second toe is usually affected by this, but it can spread to all toes. Sometimes you can be born with this, but usually it happens:

  • When you wear shoes that are too tight

  • When you wear high heels often

  • When children wear shoes that are too small

The most common cause of hammer toe is wearing narrow shoes that are too tight. This causes the toe to be in a bent position. The tendons and muscles become shorter and tighter in the toe.

Hammer toe symptoms

  • The middle joint of the toe is bent.
  • Often a corn forms on the top of the toe.
  • Sometimes a callus can be found on the sole of the foot
  •  End of the toe bends down into a claw-like shape.

Diagnosing hammer toe

Your healthcare provider will examine your foot. Your provider will check to see if you have pain and also how well you can move your toes.

Treating hammer toe

Hammer toe can be treated in children with physical therapy.

In adults, your provider might recommend that you:  

  • Wear shoes that fit you or shoes with a wide toe

  • Try not to wear high heels

  • Wear shoes with soft insoles so that there is less pressure on the toe

You could also try some simple exercises for stretching your toes. Sometimes surgery is recommended. 

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