Hammer toes are when the lesser toes of the foot begin to curl and deform. Sometimes the 2nd toe will cross over the big toe.
There are a variety of reasons hammer toes form, in general, they form because of an imbalance of the small muscles in the toes and foot. Some hammer toes can form from certain shoes. Trauma is another way hammer toes can form.
Hammer toes can be diagnosed in the clinic; x-rays can further help evaluate where the deformity of the hammer toe is concentrated.
There are several conservative options to alleviate pain caused by hammer toes. Pain is usually caused by the toe rubbing on shoes, or pain is caused by the hammer toes contact with the ground. Padding, offloading, buttressing and injections are common conservative options that can almost immediately alleviate pain.
Unfortunately, there are no conservative options that will correct the deforming forces of the hammer toe. Surgical options are available for permanent correction of the hammer toe. Surgery is aimed at straightening the toe and therefore, alleviating the pain caused by the hammer toe. There are several options available to accomplish this and it depends on how the hammer toe was formed.
X-ray image of a hammer toe of the second toe before surgery
X-ray image of a hammer toe of the 2nd toe after surgery