Jacques Martin, D.S.S., B.Sc., C.Ped.
President, Footech Inc., Certified Pedorthist
A hammer toe is a deformity where the second, third or fourth toes are bent at the middle joint to resemble hammers. Hammer toes are initially flexible but if left untreated, can become fixed and require corrective surgery. The condition can cause pain in the toes and feet, and sufferers may have corns and calluses on the top of the middle joint of the affected toes.
Causes of Hammertoe
Hammer toes are most commonly caused by muscular imbalances or shoes that don’t fit properly. Overly narrow shoes can push the smaller toes into a flexed position, while a too-high heel can force the foot down and create pressure on the toes. Evenually, the toe is unable to straighten itself, even without shoes on.
Selecting the correct footwear is essential for correcting this condition and preventing the need for surgical intervention. Toe exercises are often helpful to strengthen and stretch stiff muscles in the region. Shoes with spacious, long toe boxes are recommended. Orthotics can be used to relieve pressure and the toes and allow the toes to gradually correct themselves. Calf stretching exercises may also help to relieve pressure on the toes.
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