Hammer Toe

Also known as: mallet toe

What is hammer toe?

When one of the toes has an abnormal bend to its shape, this deformity is known as “hammer toe.” Hammer toe typically impacts the middle joint and is most commonly found in the second toe. It  can occur for a variety of different reasons. A hammer toe is usually asymptomatic however calluses can develop over time that may cause pain.

What might cause hammer toe?

Potential causes of hammer toe include the following:
  • Wearing shoes that don’t fit properly for a long time, such as high heels or shoes with a tight toe box.
  • An injury to the toe, such as stubbing, jamming or breaking it.
  • Imbalance in the muscles, tendons or ligaments that normally hold the toe straight.

What can you do about it?

You can prevent hammer toe or reverse the symptoms of mild hammer toe by wearing comfortable, proper-fitting shoes with plenty of room in the toe box and low heels. Also, look for adjustable shoes. Over-the-counter remedies can treat issues that accompany hammer toe, such as corns and bunions.

When should you seek medical attention?

If you notice a change in your toe position, have corns and calluses or experience pain, limited foot movement or difficulty walking, schedule an appointment with your doctor to discuss your foot problems.

Reviewed by: Verena M. Schreiber, MD

This page was last updated on: January 23, 2020 11:40 AM

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